Cheryl Elston - "Rwanda changed me"

Running time
2 min 7 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


It was, obviously, something that helped me discover that that's why I joined the army. We live in such a great country and I'm able to, one, protect our way of life and that. But also, because we do live in such a great country and we do have so much opportunity and such a great way of life, if I can go overseas and assist other people in getting through adversity and setting up their country and helping them to recover from be it a natural disaster or a conflict, or something like that, then it's what I joined for.

It's something I'm glad I have almost done 30 years now, doing that, and I wouldn't change it for a thing. Rwanda changed me. It made me more grateful for what we've got and what I had as a child and my lifestyle, but it also humbled me in the fact that you don't need a lot to be happy. Family and safety is probably the two biggest things. I think it made me a better soldier. I had become very protective of my soldiers after that.

When we did deploy, my main concern was that they didn't have bad memories like I'd had. I didn't want them to have bad dreams that I had. So I wanted to protect them from that, so I guess that I probably overprotected them, and I didn't want them to be exposed to what we'd been exposed to, so they didn't have the bad dreams that you can have and things like that. But I'm grateful for it, and I'm proud to have been and been part of that small group that went."

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