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A Soldier's Book of Poems: Poems 19, Twenty and 21.

Updated: Jan 23

Canada at war

These next three poems marked my decent into a deeper depression. I started to get very dark after these poems.


Heal the Hearts of Friends


How can you heal the hearts of friends?

When their hearts are hurting,

From the loss of a loved one.


How can you fill that now empty void?

When you know that void

Is deeper than from just someone.


Time will reduce the sharpness of loss,

And the wonderful memories will start the healing.


Time will allow the void to adjust,

And wonderful memories will be full of feeling.


How can you heal the hearts of friends?

You cannot. Not completely.

But you can let them know that you care.


How can heal the hearts of friends?

You cannot. Not completely.

But you can let them know you are there.


A Better Father



The struggle is deep within,

Knowing when I should or shouldn’t give a hand.

I want to burst forward and help them,

But I refrain, does that make me a lesser man?


I want to offer guidance,

Give them a different point of view.

But what to offer my daughters?

When they are now adults, swimming in the new Social Media Sea of Blue.


Occasional words of caution or approval,

Are seemingly all I can say.

Sometimes they recognize,

Sometimes my words find a way.


But it fills me with both pride and fear,

Too see my little girls these days,

Who once said “Daddy/Dad/Hey, what about this”?

But now say, “I/We got it, thanks anyway”.


I have a hard time not wanting to do things for them,

I just want to be a better father.

Each blossom blooms as it will,

We as Father’s, must never forget,

To interfere with nature: human or otherwise,

Is something you may come to regret.


Each petal unique, yet similar to you,

But also, a piece of your wife,

Another piece soft, yet another far less cuddly,

Do you hug them, or run for your life?


Kidding aside, there is just no escaping,

Those wonderful Angel/Demon/Mix off-spring were partly your making,

Did you take the time, the opportunities, the responsibility?

To talk with them; not at them, let them know your love was true.


It can be hard, when you are working and serving your country,

Often away, and missing important times; yet never forgetting,

Their incredible smile, so unique to one-another,

Each time I see them again, my love is renewed.


I tried to do the best I could,

I just wanted to be a better father.

A soldier bidding farewell to his son before departing for war, evoking a poignant moment of separation.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Hard to Connect.


Being a father is not easy,

Being a mother is not either,

However, being that I am a male,

I can only express how “I” feel.


I truly admire the pain,

a woman is willing to go through,

 just to have a child,

Even knowing it may go wild.


But this poem is from my point of view,

Take from it what you will,

In front of my Family, I kneel,

And my feelings expressed here are real.


Not having a role model made it difficult,

To understand how hard parenting would be,

Even knowing one may go wild,

Left me frightened yet beguiled.

Do I regret becoming a father?

At times, yes, I do.

When they look at you with disdain,

Because you are ruining their life yet again.


Makes it hard not to want to throttle,

The live that you created.

But they did not ask to be born,

So how dare you not want to adorn.


When they just stay silent,

And give you that look,

You see the hatred being contained,

You do not speak your mind, you refrain.


Be forewarned, as your daughters reach that age,

they begin that hormonal change,

Do not over-react to their new devil’s horn,

Even though you feel nothing but their rath and their scorn.


Do I regret becoming a father?

Usually and normally, absolutely not.

The birth of each daughter, an incredible event,

You will come out all smiles, and emotionally spent.


When they call you Daddy,

And give you that look,

You melt at the smile in their eyes,

And you feel like you have won the prize.


All those wonderful hugs

All their wonderful smiles,

Seemed to wipe away their past intent,

And almost makes you give consent.


Some fun times with Disney,

Then aged up to Universal,

We began to cruise under the skies,

Family travel became our lullabies.


As my daughters grew older,

And my rank and workload increased,

I began to lose touch with the adults they were becoming,

And to my work I was succumbing.


Less time with my daughters,

More time spent away,

Gave the occasions to sit and reflect,

Each time I went home, I would feel a disconnect.


Quickly becoming young, capable women,

With visions of their own futures in their eyes,

I stopped understanding the tune they were humming,

Stopped understanding the women they were becoming.


And as their wings spread,

So too did their independence,

And my advice they seemed to reject,

Made it hard to connect.


With the previous blog, I left at the point where I had just been accepted for the Commissioning From the Ranks (CFR) program in 1998. As mentioned earlier, the CFR program is not an application program. You must be recommended by your Chain of Command. The program allows for a set number of positions throughout the Canadian Armed Forces, and the files compete against each other to determine the selected Candidates. For my year, there were 25 CFR Candidates. During the 1990’s, the Military went into as Force Reduction phase, initiated by Liberal Party funding reductions. As a result, there had not been a CFR program 5 years.


It is my personal belief that the selected individuals for the CFR program should be treated with the respect and dignity that the minimum of 10 years of Military experience required to be recommended for the CFR program has earned them, rather than be treated like new recruits, with bedside inspections and marching through the basement passages. Unfortunately, the only thing new I was taught on my Basic Officer Training was Sword Drill. Upon graduation, I was Commissioned as a Lieutenant (Lt). Normal Officer rank progression within the Military was to start as an Officer Cadet, then be promoted to Second-Lieutenant (2Lt) upon completing Basic Officer Training. However, as all CFR Candidates had a minimum of 10 years of experience, the minimum rank CFR’s graduated with was Lt. Sergeants (Sgt’s) graduated as Lt’s, Warrant Officers and Master Warrant Officers graduated as Captains (Capt), and Chief Warrant Officers graduated as Majors.


Below is the rank structure within the Military at that time. I say at that time because the Canadian Armed Forces has since reverted to pre-unification Rank. Under a Liberal Government, and in an effort to save money, the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Royal Canadian Navy amalgamated to form the Canadian Forces. The Armed descriptor was dropped because the Liberal Government felt that it was too aggressive. The Military has since

With Basic Officer Training complete in December of 1998, I headed to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, Ontario in January 1999, for my six-month Basic Intelligence Officer Course (BIOC).  I left my Family in Victoria, British Columbia, with the understanding that upon completion of my BIOC, I would be sent to 1 Canadian Brigade Group (1 CBG), where I would be posted to the Intelligence Section of 1 CBG Headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta.


Now being told you are going to a certain location isn’t cast in cement, as you would hope. No, rather than being posted to Edmonton, where I wanted to go, I was posted to Ottawa, to J2 Imagery, located in Tunney’s Pasture. This posting was in fact my fault. During our Course familiarization visit to Ottawa, we also paid a visit to J2 Imagery. Coming out of the building after our tour, I made the mistake of saying “What a dingy location, I wouldn’t want to work here". So, of course where did I get posted, J2 Imagery. At least that is what I was told and what my posting message said.

The Canadian Military (Department of Defence) is one of the first Government Departments to have their budgets reduced when a Liberal Government is in place. Normal procedure for attending a Course is to send a member on Temporary Duty (TD), which comes with a monetary amount paid at a daily rate for each day away. This is meant to make up for the cost of being away from your Family, for being without all your personal effects, and for purchasing things like internet. A six-month course can get expensive for TD funding. So, the military thought it would save money by posting the BIOC Students to CFB Borden, rather than sending personnel on TD. When members are posted from one location to another, they receive a Posting Allowance to make up for the cost of cancelling local memberships and having to re-initiate everything at the new location. However, the military thought they would pull a fast one on the BIOC Candidates by not paying the posting allowance or TD. Thankfully, we the Students of the BIOC had been in the Military long enough to know our rights and what should have been paid. So, we redressed (put in a complaint) their decision, and the Military was forced to pay us the posting allowance.


Being posted to CFB Borden also meant that our post-course Posting Messages had each member of the BIOC Posted from CFB Borden to their new location, not from our previous locations where our Family, Furniture and Effects remained. The Military in their wisdom, thought they could get away with that, in addition to the Posting Allowance issue. Thankfully, more logical minds prevailed, with pressure applied by both the Intelligence School and the Intelligence Branch Colonel-Commandant. Who might I add, on our Course Graduation Day, pulled his cheque book out and offered to pay for my posting. I was the only Student on my Course that was affected so drastically, as the others were either being posted to a Unit at their current home location or were single with no kids and minimal personal belongings. The issue was resolved the next day.

To make my situation even worse, during the last 2 weeks of my BIOC, I had developed Colitis and was so sick that I had to take additional Imodium just to get me through the Graduation Ceremony. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

With the funding of my posting resolved, I and my Family packed up and moved to Ottawa in July of 1999.

The Military uses letters to designate various environmental elements: A is Air; G is for Ground; J is for Joint; and N is for Naval. Additionally, numbers are added to each environmental letter to identify what role within the Unit personnel are working. 1 is for Personnel; 2 is for Intelligence; 3 is for Operations; 4 is for Logistics; 5 is for Future Plans; 6 is for Communications; 7 is for Training; 8 is for Finance; and 9 is for Policy.  

For my posting above, I was posted to the Joint Intelligence Unit that specialized in imagery and imagery analysis. In addition to describing the working Environment within a Unit, Personnel assigned to these Units are also given a position designation. For example, the most senior member in Rank within the Unit is also assigned a position designation. The Unit J23 would be the Intelligence Operations Officer, responsible for all Intelligence Operations and all personnel working within Intelligence Operations of the Unit.

In addition to using the letter and numbering system, at times Units are give a name, such as J2 Imagery, that would be an Intelligence Imagery Unit; or J2 Strategic and Regional Assessments (J2 SRA), which was an Intelligence Analysis unit.

I reported for work at J2 Imagery and spent my first few days clearing (reporting/registering) into various administrative locations within National Defence Headquarters (NDHQ). While at NDHQ, I was clearing into the Military Police Section when the Officer working as the NDHQ J2 Ops, (J23), a full Colonel, responsible for all Canadian Armed Forces Intelligence Operations, and Units responsible for providing Intelligence support, such as Imagery or Analysis of current and future Operations. The Administration Assistant, who just happened to be down at the Military Police Unit assigned to National Defence Headquarters, noticed my name, and asked where I had been, as NDHQ J2 Ops was expecting me to report into him. I said that I had reported into J2 Imagery, as per my Posting Message, and was in the process of clearing in. He said the that I was supposed to be reporting into J2 Strategic and Regional Assessments (J2 SRA), a Navy Commander, not J2 Imagery.


The next morning, I reported into J2 Ops, who informed me that He and the Commanding Officer (CO) of J2 Imagery had made a deal to send me to J2 Imagery, in exchange for 2 Intelligence Officers to go to J2 SRA. However, the CO of J2 Imagery thought he would pull a fast one, and kept those 2 Intelligence Officers, and got me as well. J2 Ops informed me that since J2 Imagery did not send those Officers, he considered the deal to be cancelled. So, I now belonged to J2 SRA, and was assigned the position of the Southeast Asia Intelligence Analyst.  J2 Ops also informed me that I should not listen to the rumours that 4 personnel from with J2 SRA were on Medical Leave because of Heart Attacks. I was informed that it was not 4 Officers, it was only 3, because the fourth Officer had his Heart Attack during a different medical condition. Of course, that tidbit of information did not make me feel better.


Back at the Private Military Quarters (PMQ’s) that I and my Family had moved into, my wife informed me that someone from J2 Imagery had called and asked where I was, as I had not reported in that morning. My wife informed him that I had reported into J2 Ops, as ordered. I then informed her of where I had been assigned, and about the heart attacks within the Unit.


I had most certainly begun my career as an Intelligence Officer in an unusual way.

As noted before, I did not place my name and date of completion with my earlier poems. However, all of the poems from my book are copyright protected.

E.J.R. Hardy.

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