I hope my message today finds you well and that those of you who are snowbirds made it back to Canada safely. In these difficult times, I am thinking about you and your families. You are an important part of our RCMP family, and I want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe.

As we respond to COVID-19, I have been encouraged by the resilience demonstrated throughout the RCMP. Everyone has rallied together to respond to this unprecedented event, balancing our commitment to our mandate with the one to our communities, keeping them safe.

Often, it is easier to look at all the, sometimes overwhelming, challenges during a crisis; however, ironically, I see so many good things coming out of this for our organization. Our Business Continuity Plans are solid and now they are being tested. Commanders are coming together like never before and are stronger knowing that they have the skills and confidence to deal with such a multi-faceted event.

This has been a great opportunity to solidify our relationships with the various government agencies, partners and unions, especially with our new regular member union, the National Police Federation. Neighbours are helping neighbours and it’s nice to see a break in the action, with call volumes down…a great time to push the reset button!

We all have a role to play to slow down the spread of COVID-19, but because you, as vets, are squarely in the most vulnerable age group, it’s especially important that you take precautions. Unfortunately, these tiny viruses are too small to slap a pair of cuffs on, so we have to fight them in other ways.

As we know from our friends at Public Health, respiratory viruses spread through contact. There are some changes to our regular behaviour that we can do throughout our day that can help reduce the risk and “flatten the curve”.

Make sure you know the symptoms of COVID-19, follow the guidance of local health authorities and maintain social distancing. The best thing we can do is stay at home. Until we hear otherwise, avoid gatherings and limit your exposure to people and public locations. You can get reliable information on symptoms and precautions by calling 1-833-784-4397, or visiting canada.ca/coronavirus.

Now more than ever, we need to look after one another. The weeks ahead will be very fluid. They will have real implications for you and your family. Situations like this can be difficult, making us feel worried, uncertain and fearful. This is natural, and it’s where the veterans’ community really comes into its own as a support network. Reach out to each other, stay in contact, and keep the family strong.

If you, a colleague or a family member needs urgent support, call Veterans Affairs’ Talk to a professional hotline at 1-800-268-7708 to speak to a mental health professional right away, any time, day or night. This is a confidential and free service available 24/7 to veterans, former RCMP members, their family members, or caregivers.

Many Legion branches are also providing assistance to those in need with emergency help and grocery delivery during this time. Please contact your local branch for information or Dominion Command Service Officers via phone or email at 1-877-534-4666 or veteransservices@legion.ca.

To help you keep up to date with what is going on in the organization, we have launched a new COVID information page with my broadcasts to RCMP employees, our public updates and helpful links. It is growing every day with new information, so check back often at http://www.rcmp.gc.ca/en/covid-19?fe.

If you have any other questions, the RCMP Veterans’ Association executive (https://rcmpva.org/contact-en/ or call 1-877-251-1771) will be in close contact with my Corps Sergeant Major throughout this time. Together, we will make sure we find answers for you.

I know many of you will want to know what more you can do to help. You spent your career handling all kinds of crises and now our country needs that kind of experience. We are investigating more ways for volunteers to assist, and I will let you know soon about new processes and options we are putting in place.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you again at your Annual General Meeting. Once it is safe for you to come together, whenever and wherever you decide to hold it, you can be sure that I’ll be there.

You have built an incredible legacy of keeping Canada safe. We’re stepping up and meeting the challenge of preserving that gift. We’ll continue to take care of Canadians, just like you did. We’ve got this. We’ll make you proud.

I leave you with a final thought that I received from an RCMP vet who was self-isolating as a result of international travel: “The truth is, it is not so boring at home, however, it’s interesting that one bag of rice has 7,456 grains and another has 7,489!”

Stay well!

Brenda Lucki