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Mike Lacroix

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Mike Lacroix

For Mike Lacroix, the decision to join the Canadian Armed Forces Army Primary Reserve was a collective one.

"Five of my friends and I had gone as far as we could go in Scouts Canada," explained Mike. "We were at the senior level in Scouts. The next logical step for us seemed to be joining the Canadian Armed Forces. "

So in November 1988, with a career in law enforcement also in his future plans, Mike joined the reserves at the age of 20.

"I knew I didn't want to be in the army on a full-time basis," Mike said. "I was enrolled in the Law and Security program at Sheridan College at the time."

Shortly after joining the Toronto Scottish Regiment, Mike was offered a position in Germany with the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. The only issue was that he would be unable to enroll in his second year of college. Mike felt the opportunity was too great to pass up and he soon found himself overseas.

While in Germany, the new infantry soldier took part in a Cold War army training exercise known as Fall Ex. For six weeks he was involved with allied forces as they conducted military manoeuvers.

When Mike returned from Germany in the fall of 1989, he had no job and was no longer enrolled in college. In the coming months, he took jobs as a line cook and in retail supply to pay the bills. However, the Canadian Primary Reserve was providing him with some very unique opportunities.

"I completed my machine-gunners course once I returned from Germany," Mike said. "The following summer I completed a reconnaissance course and in the summer of 1991 I completed my leadership course."

While his involvement in the reserves was part time, he was very dedicated and put in extra hours whenever he was needed.

"Due to flexibility in my schedule I was able to work with the Army on a full-time basis during the summer months and then return to part-time hours the rest of the year," Mike said. "I always made myself available when called upon. It didn't matter if they needed someone to clean stoves, clean weapons or help new recruits assemble their equipment - I was there."

In 1994, Mike took a job as a full-time Army Reserve recruiting sergeant. It was a position he held until 1998, when he began working as a highway truck inspector for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation. The job was one he enjoyed, but a chance meeting with a now retired member of the York Regional Police once again changed his career path.

"I was helping with an Army Reserve recruit course one weekend when I met Superintendent Eugene Kerrigan," he said.  "He asked me, 'Why don't you join the police?'"

Mike explained he had several reasons for not wanting to pursue a career in law enforcement at that time. He had a good job, he worked close to home, the pay was good and it didn't seem like an appropriate time to be making major life changes. Despite his protests, the superintendent repeatedly asked him why he didn't want to join York Regional Police.

"His question never changed even though my answers did," Mike recalled with a smile. "I realized I didn't have much of a choice. I am the only member of York Regional Police to be drafted."

Mike began his career working as a Uniform Patrol officer at #4 District Headquarters in the City of Vaughan, after which he joined the Traffic Unit.

While it is sometimes difficult to juggle his commitment to the Army and his career with York Regional Police, Mike said both organizations are understanding and flexible when it comes to meeting demands.

"A lot of reservists go through times like these," he said. "A reservist will start a new job or have a young family and there is a need for flexibility."

While there have been many memorable moments in his military career, Mike says the most recent was his eight-month assignment to Sierra Leone in Africa.

"I was the task force sergeant-major for a multi-national task force," he said. "It was an advisory and training mission. The training aspect was scaling down when I arrived, however, the advisory component was still active. My specific roll was to be the sergeant-major of the base, the camp and the personnel."

During his time in Africa, Mike helped run a school for senior leadership training, ran a drill instructors' school, a machine gun instructors' school and acted as a mentor to the Sierra Leone force's sergeant-major.

While being away from his family for eight months was hard, Mike said they made the best of it. They utilized Internet-phone technology to talk face-to-face and went on a family vacation to Florida when he was four months into his tour of duty.

"I can't speak for them," he said. "But it didn't feel like I was away at all."

After he returned home, Mike received a new appointment. He became a brigade sergeant-major of 32 Canadian Brigade Group. In his new role, Mike is responsible for advising the Commander on policy that affects the NCM Corps. and he is in charge of career management for the sergeants and warrant officers within his brigade.

In addition to his duties as a York Regional Police officer and member of the Canadian Forces, Mike also hosts his own podcast show to share veterans' stories in their own words. The podcast may be found at