Edmonton soldier who lost legs in Afghanistan quits military
"As a person who is wounded ... I have an inability to be promoted or posted. So in a sense, although I am retained in the military, my career is kind of stagnant," Franklin said Thursday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.
"So for myself, it's a choice of do I want to keep doing the exact same things I'm doing or do I want to progress?"
Franklin's last day in the military will be in mid-November. He plans to focus on his speaking engagements and continue his work on the Franklin Fund, the charitable foundation he set up in association with the University of Alberta to help improve the quality of life of amputees.
In January 2006, Franklin survived a roadside explosion in Afghanistan that killed Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry and injured two other soldiers. After months of recovery and many operations, Franklin learned to walk on prosthetic legs.
In his interview Thursday, Franklin was upbeat but reflective on how the military has changed its treatment of severely injured soldiers since he was hurt more than three years ago.
Franklin credited former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier for changing attitudes and ensuring soldiers like himself were kept in the military and not "pushed off to Veterans Affairs," as Franklin put it.
"That, for all the wounded, and all the injured, did amazing things for us," he said.
While Franklin said there are still people in the military who don't think he should have remained in uniform, there are signs attitudes are continuing to change.
On Wednesday, a Quebec soldier who lost a leg in a roadside bomb attack in 2007 told CBC News he is returning to Afghanistan.
Capt. Simon Mallioux, a soldier with the Royal 22nd Regiment at La Citadelle in Quebec City, is returning in November to serve as a staff officer at the Forces' Kandahar Airfield headquarters, making him what is believed to be the first Canadian soldier to return to a combat zone after an amputation.
On Sunday, one of Franklin's friends, Master Cpl. Jody Mitic, completed a half-marathon in Ottawa.
Mitic lost both his legs below the knee after stepping on a landmine during a routine patrol in Afghanistan in January 2007. Mitic wants to return to combat duty as a helicopter gunner in Afghanistan but must pass two fitness tests first.
"We have this big label on all the wounded's heads that we're 'unfit.' That we're military 'unfit.' ... And now the question is, is this man unfit?" Franklin asked. "Can we even use that term 'unfit'? Are they medically incapable of doing their jobs? And yet any time he's been tested, he's been able to do the job."
Franklin said he is hopeful Mitic and others will push the envelope in the Canadian military.
"Now it's time for me to pass the stuff that I've done on to others so that they can go that next step."