Now I can apologize for my question yesterday. It was biased and incorrect.
It’s not that there are demented old vets running the Canadian Legion
. It’s that the organization has become nothing more than a social club filled with NON-VETS, who don’t have a clue about what a vet experiences or what a vet stands for. How could this once proud group of Canada
’s heroes/heroines fall so far from grace?
At the end of the WW II
, there were millions of new Canadian veterans, but over the years, these numbers dwindled as the role of the military became less important and secondary to Canadian political strategies. First, the Government downsized in a move to merge traditional military divisions. The Army, Navy and Air Force became one under the Canadian Armed Forces
. Personnel morale plummeted. So did the pride of Canadians in their military. The first one-for-all uniforms were a joke. The proud achievements of Canadian peacekeepers went unheralded by the public. Even media attention faded because military stories weren’t sexy enough to hold readers.
I was introduced to the disservice of our soldiers in 1994 on a magazine assignment that took me to Rwanda, just after the genocide. I experienced government neglect of our troops and challenged the then Minister of Defence David Collenette
to board a cargo plane and follow the relief supply lines as I had for nine days. I guaranteed he would never look at life the same way again. As it was, he rarely showed up for meetings with the DND
let alone became interested in the people serving and protecting our country. He took them for granted as most Canadians did, and to a large degree still do.
Today we are lucky to have 60 to 70 thousand in the military, and they are maxed out in committed combat missions and peacekeeping or disaster relief assignments worldwide.
In the intervening years, as the number of veterans dropped, branches of the Canadian Legion lost members. Yet, even then, it never occurred to me to join the Canadian Legion because I never felt my status of Navy Reserve
entitled me to that privilege. I did not see myself as a true vet.
I was unaware that, to keep from closing its doors and to meet its quota of voting members, the Canadian Legion changed its requirements and offered associate memberships to anyone related to or involved with a vet, including children and grandchildren of vets. As the WWI
, WWII and Korean vets died off, the membership grew with people who have never suffered the rigors of basic training, never been in combat, and never confronted with the inhumanity of tyrants and butchers in foreign lands. This drastically changed the make-up of the Canadian Legion.
At this point, I believe the Canadian Legion CEASED to be the VOICE OF VETERANS. But the general public did not know that. Our service members did not know that. They assumed the Canadian Legion represented them as it had historically.
The government, however, did know the dynamics of the new Canadian Legion. After all, it encouraged the subtle shift. To keep its stature as a privileged social club, the government provided the Canadian Legion with many perks at government expense, and when Veterans Affairs approached the Canadian Legion to endorse the New Veterans Charter, it counted on those investments to back them up. The ploy worked. The Canadian Legion did what served them best and did not look out for our veterans’ needs. Indeed, it is questionable if any who signed off the NVC have even been on a military base
or visited the wounded returning from Afghanistan. They committed to a conspiracy of silence that forced veterans to suffer: unheard, unrepresented and unprecedented.
Until now. The vets’ vow of silence is broken. It is broken because, over the years, our governments have treated the military as convenient lab rats. They have not protected them from all kinds of atrocities, from exposure to Agent Orange
, depleted uranium in weapons used, toxic anti-malaria
drug, to name only a few. As a result, military personnel who have served in good faith have suffered an array of terrible diseases and cancers, not to mention the worst combat wounds and spirit-breaking traumas ever treated as a result of modern weapons technology and collateral-damage tactics on innocent civilians caught between warring sides.
Our veterans have been betrayed. By their own government and by the Canadian Legion. How our original Legion vets would rise from their graves to defend them, if they could!
Since they can’t, our vets are defending themselves against a system bent on taking advantage of them. They have coalesced to form the Canadian Veterans Advocacy.
David meet Goliath. You know who won that war.