Editorial cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday, March 6, 2014
Dead Hamilton soldier’s mom sent one-cent cheque
A Hamilton mother whose son killed himself after serving in Afghanistan was devastated when she received a federal government cheque cut for him in the amount of one cent.
“It just tore her heart out,” said Keven Ellis, speaking on behalf of Wayne and Denise Stark, whose son Justin died Oct. 29, 2011 at the John W. Foote VC Armoury on James Street North. “It was just horrible.”
But rather than wallow in pain after receiving the cheque last Friday, the couple set out to make sure it does not happen to other families.
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek New Democrat MP Wayne Marston — who called it “inexcusable” — raised the issue in the House of Commons Tuesday and Defence Minister Rob Nicholson agreed, calling it “absolutely ridiculous.”
The minister pledged to take “immediate steps” to ensure “this never happens again,” and he also offered the Stark family an apology.
“I extend the apologies of everyone in the government to his mother and we thank this individual for the service that he gave his country,” Nicholson told MPs.
Justin Stark was a corporal in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders when he killed himself in his barracks on a Saturday evening. He was 22.
He served in Afghanistan for seven months, starting in May 2010, after being associated with the military since 2006. His duties included patrols around Kandahar, where Canadians had their main base.
His death was the subject of several tribunals to determine whether it was related to his tour of duty, but Marston understood it was finally ruled not work related. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)