The Canadian Press
September 14, 2016
The government had already sparked outrage after it sent Stark a cheque for 1 cent in “release pay” for her dead son in February 2014 — prompting then-defence minister Rob Nicholson to apologize for what he called “insensitive bureaucratic screw-up.”Soldier Justin Stark, 22, killed himself after serving a 7-month deployment in Afghanistan. The Memorial Cross shows the military finally recognizes his death as service-related.
Justin Stark's mother, Denise Stark, says she is stunned and overjoyed to know the family's fight over whether her son's death was service-related is over.
(COLIN PERKEL / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The mother of a Canadian soldier who killed himself after serving in Afghanistan will finally be honoured with a Memorial Cross this weekend, ending a long battle to have the military recognize his death as service-related.
In an interview ahead of the ceremony, Denise Stark said she was both stunned and overjoyed when told the family’s fight over the death of her son, Cpl. Justin Stark, was over.
“I just sat there and cried — tears of joy and what not, a whole mix of emotions,” Stark said of the call that came earlier this year. “The next day, I went down to the cemetery, so I could tell Justin the good news.”
Stark, 22, a reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, served a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan. In October 2011, 10 months after his return to Canada, he killed himself at the John Weir Foote Armouries in Hamilton.
A board of inquiry concluded more than two years ago that his tour in Afghanistan did not cause post-traumatic stress disorder — PTSD — which contributed to his suicide and his mother and family would not be honoured with the Memorial Cross — frequently called the Silver Cross.
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