Canadian army

Afghan veteran ‘honored’ to lead Queen’s York Rangers

Matt Lennox was inducted as commander of the Aurora-based regiment at a time when the Canadian Armed Forces are ‘reinventing themselves’

Matt Lennox became the new commanding officer of the Queen’s York Rangers of York Region during a changing of the guard ceremony at Fort York last Saturday.

The ceremony was presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and the Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon.

Lennox, who is now a lieutenant colonel, joined the regiment in 2002 and served in Afghanistan for parts of 2008 and 2009.

Like many teenagers, he wasn’t sure where life would take him as he attended Twin Lakes High School in Orillia.

Lennox eventually became a novelist after earning his master’s degree at the University of Guelph.

“I don’t know if I had separate goals at that time,” Lennox, 41, said. “It was kind of a hobby and I was lucky to have published a few articles.”

Despite some success as an author, Lennox found the prospect of being a full-time novelist in Canada unrealistic in terms of income. To make money, he bounced back from being a bartender, working in construction, and doing various odd jobs.

In 2002, he discovered that joining the military as a part-time job would allow him to partially reimburse his college tuition.

“I thought it would be a good way to offset the price of my schooling,” he said. “I also found that I liked the work.”

When he enlisted, he did not believe he would ever serve overseas. However, in 2007, there were plenty of opportunities for reserve service members to deploy to Afghanistan, and Lennox decided to throw his name into the mix.

“It was certainly a very eye-opening experience,” he said. “It was the bulk of the years for combat operations and Canadian casualties.”

Many servicemen were wounded or killed in action during his time abroad. He witnessed heartbreaking ramp ceremonies where dead soldiers were loaded onto planes to be sent home.

“I had a few friends who got seriously injured in some fights,” he said. “I knew a few people who were killed in fighting.”

Lennox had a fairly secure job in Afghanistan as a staff officer at headquarters. After returning unscathed from his 10-month deployment, he joined the military full-time.

While working with the Queen’s York Rangers for 20 years, he rose through the ranks of officers and landed in the role of Commanding Officer.

“It’s an honour, yes,” he said, “but it’s also a great responsibility because we’re at a stage where the Canadian Armed Forces (are), in some ways, in the process of reinvent.”

At the same time, it’s an uncertain world right now. Army reserve personnel are constantly deployed on international operations, he said.

“There’s a very real responsibility to make sure we’re well trained and well looked after before, during and after any type of deployment,” Lennox said.

National operations such as responding to natural disasters and situations like the COVID-19 pandemic might also require the deployment of military reserves, he explained.

“We need to have our employees who are primarily part-timers and foster a culture where they are well-trained, well-equipped and ready to go at relatively short notice,” Lennox explained. “There are a lot of unknown situations that could arise.”

His goal is to ensure that he will hand over a unit in the best possible condition when his successor takes over in about three years.

“For any member of my regiment who is deployed on an operation in the next two years, I want them to go home and say that whatever hardships they faced while deployed, they knew they were there. was well taken care of by his home unit,” he said.

Lennox hopes to continue as a novelist one day. However, between his military career, being the assistant director of the Roméo Dallaire Center for Peace Studies, and being the father of three young girls and the husband of Natalie, who is a human rights lawyer, the resident of Etobicoke says there aren’t many spare hours at the end of each day.

He and his family enjoy spending their free time visiting loved ones, enjoying the family cabin in Parry Sound, and hope to travel.

“My family is very supportive of me, which is essential for the work I do,” Lennox said. “It’s not something you could do without an extensive family network behind you.”

Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.