Do you remember when we used to look across the border to the United States and shake our heads at their social disgrace of Viet Nam vets abandoned and homeless on city streets? Well, that smug attitude has now come home to haunt us.
Guess what? We have homeless vets right here in Canada, and they are victims of our ten years of combat service in Afghanistan—the same country that defeated and devastated the former Soviet Union’s forces.
Yes, our commitment to NATO’s intervention to rid the world of a home base for terrorists has been noble, and we have achieved a proud combat record, one that challenges the American Stryker brigade taking over Canada’s operation in Kandahar.
Yet, we took on the mission without understanding the full impact on our troops or the extended time we would be expected to serve.
This short-sightedness has affected the U.S. and all NATO forces committed to the “War on Terrorism.” None of us has sufficient troops to serve on continual combat duty without fresh reinforcements. Instead, the same soldiers have been rotated on minimum six-month tours at least four times during ten years of fighting Taliban insurgents.
The result of repeated exposure to adrenalin-pumping conditions has set off unprecedented numbers returning home with operational stress injuries as well as physical disabilities never experienced before because today’s wounded would never have survived their injuries in past wars. Our casualties would have been many times higher than the 158 recorded, and the last two are suspected suicides rather than actual combat deaths—a warning in itself about the aftermath facing our homecoming vets.
The Toronto Star’s three most high-profile columnists—Rosie DiManno, Oliva Ward and Paul Watson—are peeling off the public’s blinders to see the true picture of our proud achievements and grievous shortcomings in Afghanistan.
Olivia’s story—Troops home but battle just beginning—follows combat engineer Wayne McInnis, 24, in his search for programs to help him work through his post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from helplessly watching his friend burn to death after an IED attack on their vehicle.
How many of our returning troops will tell you . . . “a big part of me died over there?”
Too many, folks! And these are the haunting words that are and will be the stigma of our generation of homeless vets unless we step up to the plate and answer their plea for help.
Already I have received an email message from a returning active soldier seeking guidance on where he can go for effective treatment of his PTSD. I’m concerned this is the first drop in a big flood to come.
Do we ignore this crying need or do we answer the clarion call to action?
Some already have but they are struggling along on their own. It’s the same old story. People don’t want to be touched by the shame of homelessness. They don’t volunteer to help. They don’t make donations to those willing volunteers who help their fallen comrades. They just give a cursive nod. (More on this in my next posting.)
This is why the Canadian Veterans Advocacy has launched its Pennies for Veterans Campaign. Go to the CVA website to see how you can participate.
SILENT AUCTION FOR A FREE SIGNED COPY OF NOVEL and FREE T-SHIRT FOR PENNIES FOR VETERANS CAMPAIGN
Homeless vets need you now!
As part of the “homeless vets campaign” in Niagara Falls at the Canadian Veterans National Rendezvous this weekend–July 9-10, I will be one of the authors signing copies and presenting my novel, The Consummate Traitor, a spy tale set in World War II based on true events. Two women stand in the way of a nuclear disaster. What happens to them is about loyalty betrayed, loves lost and secrets buried in a chain reaction of double crosses that affect the ultimate outcome of World War II.
Rally Discount price $10.00 per copy.
At my booth, I will also be conducting a SILENT AUCTION for the Pennies for Veterans Campaign. The one who donates the highest bid will receive a free signed copy of The Consummate Traitor, Book One in the Trilogy of Treason, and a free T-shirt.
Hope to see you there!