Posted on November 1, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Augustana student Cpl. Matt LeBlanc has served three tours of duty in the Middle East. He will speak about his experiences and Canada’s role.

By Chantelle Olson

Think about the balding old men with ragged scars, some missing limbs or eyes – or faces.

Veterans, men who fought at the Somme or against Hitler’s army in Europe and North Africa, are our grandfathers or perhaps our fathers. They are a part of our history to be revered and remembered. However, there is at least one veteran who walks our campus and sits in our classrooms. His eyes are a little older, perhaps, but you would never know he was a veteran by looking at him. He is a student just like the rest of us.

Matt LeBlanc is a student at Augustana. During the past seven years, he has been on three different tours to the Middle East, two in Afghanistan and one in Dubai. After getting home from his most recent tour this spring, Matt decided to return to school full time. When a professor mentioned to the Augustana History Club that Matt would be willing to talk about his experiences in the Forces, Anna Kuntz and the rest of the executive jumped at the opportunity.

“Most of the time, when we think of history, we think of events that happened fifty, two hundred, or a thousand years ago,” says Anna, president of the club. “We thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to bring current history to our campus – history that is being made right now – from someone who has been a part of it.”

LeBlanc is eager to share his experiences with his school and the community. “It’s a matter of awareness,” he said. “Most Canadians are given only the media perspective on the Afghanistan conflict and Canada’s involvement. Without a firsthand account, they cannot form accurate opinions on the issues at hand. It is also important to those we lost that we who survived tell the true stories. It is essentially our unspoken duty.”

Anna Kuntz agrees: “The goal of this event is to inform students and people in our community about what our Canadian soldiers are doing in Afghanistan. The majority of what we hear is about the deaths that occur or someone messing up. We don’t hear about the reconstruction missions.”

Cpl. Matt LeBlanc will speak in room C014 on November 8th at 6:30 p.m. He has a short presentation prepared, complete with pictures and possibly video of his tours to Afghanistan, explaining why the Canadian Forces are there and what they are doing. There will be ample opportunity to ask any questions you want. All who are interested are welcome to attend.

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