Language selection

Veteran success story: David Fraser

Major-General (Ret) David Fraser, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan, has excellent advice for those about to transition from military service.

Share this article on:

Retirement doesn’t mean doing nothing

Corporate executive, bestselling author and financial mentor at one of Canada’s leading business schools, Major-General (Retired) David Fraser could be called one of the most successful Veterans in life after service. But his post-military career also focuses on helping guide fellow Veterans and current members of the Canadian Armed Forces through various post military activities.

Continuing education

David Fraser served with the Second and Third Battalions in Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He served with the Reserves both at the unit level and as chief of staff for the Alberta District. His operational command experience also includes tours in Bosnia, Cyprus and Afghanistan. He commanded the Southern NATO Coalition forces in Afghanistan and led Operation Medusa.

Education has been a continuing theme in David’s career. He joined the CAF after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University in 1980. He graduated from the CAF Command and Staff College in Toronto in 1990, and earned a Master of Management and Policy from the Royal Military College and Queen’s University in 2001. He went on to Command the Canadian Forces College in Toronto, implementing distant learning and rewriting the National Security Program for CAF leaders.

After retiring from the CAF in 2011 as a Major General, David went to the Ivey Business School. Upgrading his financial education gave him knowledge he put to work in the private sector. His first post-service job was Chief Operations Officer (COO) for then-new Blue Goose Pure Foods, provider of certified organic beef, chicken and beef.

From 2015 to 2016, David was COO of INKAS Armored Vehicle Manufacturing, which designs and builds armoured vehicles such as executive SUVs, cash transit vehicles and special purpose sedans.

In 2018, with Brian Hanington, David published the bestselling Operation Medusa: The Furious Battle That Saved Afghanistan from the Taliban, a detailed account of this crucial part of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan.

Today, David works with Bank of Montreal, helping provide financial education and products for military members and their families. He is a mentor at the Ivey Business School and advocates for Veterans in the workplace, sitting on the boards of Open Text Corp., RouteOne and the biotech firm Plan Form.

He is also an ambassador for Wounded Warriors’ Couples Overcoming PTSD Everyday (COPE) program, which involves the Veteran’s family in treating post-traumatic stress injuries. With their life partners, Veterans attend a retreat to learn how to face operational stress injuries as a team, and how to set goals as a couple. The couples are then assigned professional family coaches who call them once a week for six months to help them stay on track.

Funding from the Veteran and Family Well-Being Fund allowed Wounded Warriors Canada to add four COPE programs to its schedule, serving an additional 20 couples over the winter of 2019. COPE continues to be supported by Veterans Affairs Canada.

Paying back

As a COPE Ambassador for the Toronto area, David gives speeches and keynote addresses to Veterans’ groups, the media and business contacts. He highlights the work of Wounded Warriors and its programs. He also gives keynote addresses for Wounded Warriors Canada’s fundraising events. “It is interesting how many times in various non-related conversations, that I can insert the great work that WWC does and direct people to find information and help.”

Making a successful transition

David Fraser has some advice for making the transition to life after service. First, start planning your release well in advance. “Prepare yourself mentally for a big change. I started 18 months ahead for a different kind of life. This is more than another posting. If you start when you retire, you’re too late. Members also need to take stock of skills that are transferable to non-military jobs, and the skills that they will need.

“Secondly, this is hard. All of a sudden, you have to look after everything yourself: housing, finding a doctor, a dentist, a job. And the longer you’re in the military, the harder it is. But it is doable and you are not alone.”

Canadian Armed Forces members can take advantage of career transition services available. “The transition program can help members find employers that are empathetic to Veterans’ needs.” He also recommends seeking out programs such as Wounded Warriors or other community based services designed to help Veterans.

David also recommends that members give themselves the time they need to transition. “Take as much as six months off before starting your new life to unwind. Take time to unwind and start enjoying life again.”

And just as important, always stay in touch with colleagues and friends from the CAF and Veteran community. “Sharing your experiences in the military and your current life is very helpful.”

Date published: 2021-05-11

Date modified: