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