The War Amps celebrate a century of service
A hundred years ago, amputee veterans returning from the First World War started The War Amps to share concerns and assist each other in adapting to their new reality as amputees. They never dreamed that this unique Association would become a household name to Canadians and that it would still be profoundly changing the lives of amputees, like Rob Larman, a century later.
Larman lost his right leg at the age of 14 after friends dared him to jump onto a moving train. He was enrolled in The War Amps Child Amputee (CHAMP) Program, which provides financial assistance for the cost of artificial limbs, peer support and regional seminars to young amputees.
The months following the accident were a low point in his life, but joining CHAMP was life-changing. “I went to my first CHAMP seminar convinced that I was the only teen in the world dealing with an amputation. Seeing so many other young amputees succeeding turned my life completely around,” Larman says.
As a young adult, Larman began working at The War Amps Key Tag Service. It was originally launched in 1946 as a sheltered workshop so that amputees returning from the Second World War could not only work for competitive wages but also provide a service to Canadians that would generate funds for the Association’s many programs. Today, it continues to employ amputees and people with disabilities.
The war amputee veterans Larman worked alongside with took him under their wing and shared their lifetime of experience with amputation. “It moves me greatly to think of how these remarkable First and Second World War ‘amps’ enabled me to overcome my amputation, and I have been proud to, in turn, help the younger amputees who have come after me. With each new generation, this legacy is passed down again,” says Larman, who is today the Director of The War Amps Playsafe/Drivesafe Program.
The War Amps is entering its second century with the theme “Still Much to Do!” “Our work has expanded to include a diversity of issues, from financial assistance for artificial limbs, to providing a voice for amputees’ rights, to our role as the centre of excellence in living with amputation and more. Although the Association has developed many innovative and unique programs over the past 100 years, there is still much to do to ensure amputees have the artificial limbs they need to lead full and active lives,” says Larman.
Celebrating 100 years
The War Amps innovative programs have grown over the past 100 years from assisting war amputees – whom they still serve – to all amputees, including children. Today, the Association’s commitment remains to continue to improve the lives of amputees by:
• Providing financial assistance for artificial limbs
• Holding regional seminars for child amputees
• Advocating for fair treatment of war amputee veterans, as well as all amputees
• Continuing as the centre of excellence for living with amputation
There is still much to do to ensure amputees have the artificial limbs they need to lead independent and active lives. With the public’s continued support of the Key Tag Service, The War Amps programs for amputees will carry on long into the future.