An Okotoks veteran has received a national commendation.
Todd Martin has been bestowed the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.
The commendation is awarded to Canadians who provide "outstanding volunteer service to Veterans, their communities and their country."
In Martin's case, his work with The Royal Canadian Legion and Wounded Warriors was highlighted.
Martin is an active member of the Okotoks Legion Branch 291 and currently heads up their banner committee.
He's also raised thousands of dollars for Wounded Warriors Canada, an organization dedicated to supporting veterans, first-responders, and their families.
Martin's support for Wounded Warriors has seen him participate in multiple Battlefield Bike Ride fundraisers in Europe, and he even gave local first responders a workout during an awareness event hosted in Westmount School.
Mental health support is Martin's focus when it comes to his work with Wounded Warriors, and though volunteering for veterans can encompass many different services and supports, he sees a particular need for mental health funding,
"The fact that there is a need for privately sourced money to support veterans for mental health support and programming, to me says there's something wrong in the system. This should be funded by the federal government, there shouldn't need to be a privately funded service for mental health training, but the reality is that there is. As long as there is that need, somebody has to do something, and if I'm able to do something, I'll try to do it as long as I can."
The commendation has actually been a work in progress for some time, with Martin's wife Sharon and close friend Wayne Krause submitting the nomination nearly two years ago.
The process involved gathering information from the Legion, Martin's time in the military, and his volunteer work for Wounded Warriors.
Martin says he was recently aware of the long and concerted effort from the two that ended up being delayed several times.
"It sat with Veterans Affairs Canada for about six to eight months and then it was supposed to be presented last fall, but with the pandemic and the way things were going, the Minister of Veterans Affairs wasn't going to be doing any in-person presentations, then an election got called and ended up pushing it to where the official announcement didn't come out until November or December of last year."
Even then, the presentation was just held in March.
Martin's drive to do what he does stems from a few places.
"Having served in the military, you see people and how things affect them. There's that comradery and drive towards having the back of your brothers and sisters in arms, that's a driver and that's been instilled in me from as long as I can remember, from my grandfather's service."
He also wants to set an example for his son of what can be accomplished by taking an active role in the community.
"If there's a need in the community and there's something I know I could do to help, why wouldn't you do something? One person may not be able to change the world, but certainly, one person's effort may ignite somebody else's. At least you're doing something."
To that end, Martin is also known in the community for his ReCycle program, wherein he would refurbish bicycles and donated them to local kids, and for being one-third of the band Haggis, who are performing at a Ukraine benefit concert on April 15.
For Martin, what touched him more than anything else was the fact that his loved ones went through the effort they did to even nominate him.
"Just being nominated alone, just for the task the nomination process was, that would've been validation enough for me, it really would've. That was a significant effort on their part to submit it. To be one of the recipients, it's humbling beyond comment."