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Member of the Far East Welfare Team receives Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal

By: Paul Jenkins, Volunteer, Coordinator BC & Yukon History Project

What does our Safety and Wellbeing program have in common with the Canadian Red Cross Far East Welfare Team that was sent overseas to support the Canadian Army during the Korean War?

“A lot, actually,” explained Paul Jenkins, Coordinator of the Canadian Red Cross - BC & Yukon History Project.  “Our Safety and Wellbeing teams support psychological wellbeing in times of crisis. These teams work in communities to provide emotional support to those affected. The concept of such support is not new and was one of the strengths of the Canadian Red Cross team that went to Korea.”

One member of the Far East Welfare Team was Jacqueline Van Campen, now a resident of Victoria, BCOne member of the Far East Welfare Team was Jacqueline Van Campen, now a resident of Victoria, BC.  She was recruited by the Canadian Red Cross in 1953 when she was working on her Master of Social Work at Laval University. She spent a year in Japan and three months in Korea near the front, where she worked in various Maple Leaf Clubs. These were Canadian centres set up to provide rest and recuperation (R&R) for Canadian and Commonwealth soldiers.

Jacqueline served as a Welfare Officer, providing much needed emotional support to the soldiers.  “In many ways, we acted as a sister or cousin to the boys”, says Jacqueline. “We would read to them, discuss the news, play the piano, help them to write home and listen to their stories, which included the loss of fellow soldiers in combat and “Dear John” letters.”

She chose not to return directly home after her time with the team in the Far East was finished.  Instead, she took four years working her way back to Canada through such countries as Australia, India, South Africa and England. She eventually got her M.A. in Linguistics at Simon Fraser University and went on to teach at Royal Roads Military College.

Jacqueline was previously awarded two medals for her service in Korea, the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal for Korea and the UN Korea Medal.  You can see them on the cover of her book “Medals on My Kitchen Wall”.
 
Jacqueline Van Campen, pictured centre receiving her medalShe has now been awarded the Korean Ambassador for Peace Medal, given by the Republic of Korea to those who served in the Korean War and UN Peacekeeping operations. The medal was recently presented to Jacqueline by Pat Quealey, Vice President BC & Yukon at a ceremony in Victoria, BC.

“This is a very unique occasion,” said Pat. “Jacqueline’s story is full of compassion, a sense of humor and adventure.  These are still attributes that we look for in Red Crossers today, and Jacqueline exemplifies that as a shining example.”
 
Let’s give the last word to Jacqueline, who said “I gained a great sense of my country which has never left me. Et voilà – a wonderful episode of my life.”
 
For more information about the Far East Welfare Team

To contact the BC & Yukon History Project, email BCYukonHistory@redcross.ca
 
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