On September 18, 2006, a suicide bomber traveling on a bicycle detonated a bomb 30-km west of Kandahar City. This incident killed four Canadian soldiers and injured a number of others – including innocent civilians and children. Amidst this carnage, three seriously wounded Canadian Military Engineers lay wounded and dying.
Across Canada, notification teams were activated in the wee hours of the morning to deliver the news to the Canadian Soldiers families. One such team made its way to the family home of 20-year old Sapper Mike McTeague, a reservist deployed on his first overseas mission. His wounds were serious and life threatening. He and the others were rushed out of Afghanistan and sent to a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany where wounded soldiers received outstanding medical care.
Back in Canada, notification arrived that Mike was in critical condition and there was a real fear that he may not survive as a result of the injuries sustained. Mike's father was rushed to Mike's side accompanied by Mike's Unit Chaplain. Mike's younger brother and the Assisting Officer joined them the next day.
The trip to Germany was an emotional one as concern for Mike and the family along with the other Canadians grew. While there, the hard work of the dedicated medical staff, and the outstanding care provided to our soldiers, was quickly apparent. That said, it was also clear to see that our troops needed â€œa little more of Canadaâ€ to assist in their recovery. They had little in the way of personal items and electronics to pass the time and, as such, the idea to fill the gap quickly gained the support of all involved. From this experience, Wounded Warriors Canada was founded.
In 2006, the Fund was formally incorporated as The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warrior Fund and original Incorporation and establishment of the funds charitable status was completed. The original intent of the fund was designed to support all Canadian Forces members wounded on operations and to improve the general morale and welfare of the injured soldiers and their families. Care packages were rapidly replaced by the Padre's Comfort Fund in Landstulh, which until December 2013, directly supported the soldiers and their families during their stay in Germany.
Mike has had a miraculous recovery and regained his mobility. His stays at Sunnybrook Hospital, the esteemed St. John's Rehab Centre in Toronto, and his ongoing therapy have all played a part in Mike's recovery. Today, Mike is transitioning to the next phase of his life.
Just as Mike has grown healthier, so too has the fund. Since its inception in September 2006, it has become the beneficiary of the nation's empathy towards Canadian soldiers. The outpouring of support from individual Canadians and Canadian businesses has been overwhelming. Wounded Warriors Canada is a success story borne out of a horrible tragedy that continues to support those in need.
Today, we continue our legacy of care and compassion as the nation's leading, wholly independent, Veteran's charity focusing on mental health. Our innovative and wide-ranging programming, which will exceed 1.8M in 2017, is changing the lives of ill and injured Veterans, First Responders and their families. This is only made possible as a result of the compassionate trust and support of individual Canadians and Canadian businesses, enabling us to carry forward our guiding ethos: Honour the Fallen, Help the Living.