Oh Canada, what happened to you?

Kenneth Young brings us another set of questions to ponder . . . questions we all need to ask. BONNIE

Dear Editors, Veterans and MPs,

I have been trying to find the words on this subject for some time now. It is a subject which even I tend to get emotional and upset about and often find myself on Remembrance Day wishing that more such presentations could take place, even though I feel that the money could and should be better spent. Most times it is more designed as photo opportunities for politicians rather than anything else.

One sentence written by Sean Bruyea in a recent article, “How to Make Positive Change for Serving and Retired CF, RCMP and Their Families?” gave me the words which I was looking for: “Memorials, ceremonies and vigils have their place but they do not carry a message of much-needed change. They instead carry a message of continuing status quo; as long as participants remember, we need not change anything.”

I doubt that there is a single soldier, police officer or veteran who today would say that they joined the military or police to preserve the rights and ceremonies, wreaths, headstones, monuments — let alone the opportunity of a great photo for any MP. I doubt that even one could be found who would be willing to die so that some flowers could be placed on a piece of stone and even fewer who would be willing to be blown up by an improvised explosive device (IED) so that a MP could get another great photo shot with the Military or Police as backdrop. Many of them would tell you outright that they joined to protect Canada, our government, our ideals and our way of life.

So, if both veterans and police joined the units in their chosen careers to protect to serve the people, why is it that Ottawa in our names spend millions to glorify and remember the fallen, while there still remain homeless, hungry, undiagnosed and medically untreated veterans living on our streets in Canada?

Why is it that politicians all seem to be able to find a camera on Remembrance Day, yet most can’t be found when a Veteran has questions? Why do they all have speeches galore on November 11th ( in fact it is often hard to shut them up) but have twice now refused to even debate the pros and cons of the lump-sum payouts within the, “New Veterans Charter (NVC),” once when it was introduced and once again when it was amended by Bill C-55?

Something is wrong here. We spend tons of money remembering the military who died so that everybody can go to bed comfortable and cosy, while we allow many of the people who are still living and helped to give us these rights to go hungry, homeless and without medical care, clawing back every cent possible and now because of the NVC they are left without pensions.

But, what bothers me most is that nobody seems to care except a few Veterans Advocates, a very few MPs, some veterans who bothered to learn the truth, and a precious few civilians.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I would like to believe that if I was one of the soldiers buried in Flanders Field, I would today be turning in my grave because everything I fought and died for is gone. The fat cats get fatter; the poor get even more poor, and the people who fought for our rights and freedoms go uncared for and ignored.

Oh Canada! …. what happened to you?


My wife tells me that when she read my last letter it sounded as if I wanted to rob Peter to pay Paul . . . you know, have the Remembrance Day money diverted to the homeless and hungry Veterans. Let me assure you all that nothing could be further from the truth. It is just that I find it hypocritical to glorify those who have paid the ultimate price while neglecting the very principles which they fought and died to maintain.

There is no doubt that the broken, disheartened and no longer useable soldiers left behind are a greater financial burden on society than the departed and maybe the bureaucrats who told Col. Pat Stogran (former ombudsman) that it was less of a financial burden if the soldiers died in the field rather than came home injured, was correct. But, if Canada’s politicians wish to play with the big boys militarily, it takes money and lots of it, not just for equipment and bribes but also to care for our wounded. If Ottawa feels that we can’t afford the after-cost of war, maybe we shouldn’t be going to war.

In either case, I do not begrudge the Fallen their ceremonies nor the attention they receive once a year. They deserve every minute of it. But it sure would be nice if the government were to make sure they didn’t die in vain, by improving the ideals for which they fought and properly caring for the ones left who fought to beside them.

Kenneth H. Young CD

Canadian Veterans Advocacy
Agent Orange Association of Canada



About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
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2 Responses to Oh Canada, what happened to you?

  1. Murray Scott says:

    You would have thought that after being 44 years a disabled Vet. that I would have learned that it is truly us against them. Having said that, I believe that in my heart of hearts there are many people if not the majority working for VAC who truly work for the benefit and good of the Disabled Vet trying to get by on a day to day basis.
    However; every once in a while there are people who resent the Canadian Veteran and their attempt just to get by and make the best of the cards they have been dealt.
    On March 9th. 2011 I had a medical done for my pensioned condition. I had not had one done since 1988. I was previously graded at 35% and my Case Manager who is one of those people that for lack of better words bust her butt for the Veterans, suggested I have a review as my condition has got worse and although I felt a little nervous about a review my Case Manager assured me that things have changed and that the medical was more holistic and would be to my advantage.
    My appointment was for 10:00 am. and I was there at 9:30 a.m. as the traffic in downtown Edmonton was usually busy at that time.
    When I got there I signed a couple of papers and was placed in the Doctors office at 10:00 a.m. At approx. 10:15 the Doctor came in and appologized for being late. He said “I was watching the news about the Veteran who had his legs blown off. We practically rebuilt his house and everything is new, it would have been cheaper to buy a new one for him. I can’t believe that he is back asking for more. It seems like the more we give the more they want.”
    Well as you can imagine this conversation was not off to a good start. Then he went on to say he was with the Regular forces and and noticed I was or had been injured while on Special Duty with the Reserve Forces. He said he left the Regular Forces and then when he was asked to do medicals again he went back as a Reserve Force Officer.
    He then went on to say that he and his family immigrated from Germany and that his Father was a German Soldier. He said we don’t know how lucky we were to get all the benefits we have and that all the Germans Soldiers who were injured had nothing compared to us.
    Well as you can see this is not what I expected to hear and be treated like during my first medical since 1988.
    When I started to write this letter I was afraid that VAC would hold it against me. That still remains to be seen.
    My medical review was for a lower back condition which was fused several times and screws put in and over the last few years everything they told me would happen as I got older has happened and things are just not good.
    The part that bothers me even more then the comments was at 10:45 a.m. the Doctor started asking me the questions on the medical and at 11:00 a.m. he said he had to move on as his next appointment was there. In all he only took 15-20 min. to do my medical. As most of you know the medical for the lower back is one of the most extensive medicals and reports to fill out.
    After reading some of the comments on this site about DVA watching what is written and the comments by Veterans, I keep asking myself who his watching DVA, who filters out the people working for DVA that hold resentment for Veterans like myself.
    I was Grandfathered in to the new system at 35 % so there was really nothing to be gained by the medical review I had.
    All in all I feel degraded and put down by the system. I also know that one bad apple does not represent the whole of the Group.
    The way I get through the pain of this medical and the poor treatment is to focus on the hard working people that are really there to help us and who extend themselves for us. I just can’t paint everyone with the same brush. I also know that some day Veteran Organizations will get their point across to the public and the various political figures and we will see changes that represent the good part of Canada that we love.
    All the best
    Murray Scott
    A Veteran with hope….

    • A big hug, Murray. It is heartwarming to read that despite what you have endured you can still praise those who do work hard on behalf of our veterans. It is the bad apples that tarnish the whole bushell. And interesting to see the background of the doctor and how it shaped his opinion re: your case. Perspective is the culprit in most problems.


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