Minster Of Veterans Affairs Canada
From: Robert Simpson
However, the flashbacks of being covered in blood haunt me to this day. I see myself covered in blood all the time; as well I relive that battle and others which happened during my tour. Sadly my wife has had to see me suffer from the flashbacks and nightmares of this tour of duty. Also we found a dead family of six including about an 18-month-old little girl whom I carried out of the house near OP Irish Bridge.
I’ll skip forward to the last two weeks of my tour. On the way out to the East line, we heard what sounded like firing. My Sgt. yelled, “Sniper. engage! ” To my horror, there was a young boy approximately six-years-old with a cap gun just 30 feet away. I had taken up first pressure and my rifle was then in effect on a hair trigger. Somehow I managed to not squeeze off that shot. I would not have missed at that range. In early 1991, I lost a son who was just eight years and not quite a month old. For the last three years of his short life, I saw that child via the sight of an FN C1 rifle. What a way to remember your dead son!
I was also shot in January 1979. Luckily it was a spent round and only pieced my arm a slight distance in. Once more lucky.
What I am trying to tell you, Minister, is that the wound of PTSD is horrible in its effects on us. We fight each day for self-control so as not to lash out at those around us, to control ourselves in a crowd. We are always on alert for sudden movements or sounds. During our waking hours, we suffer flashbacks and also sleep is often not a blessing nor restful. We know not of peace and quiet, but the constant vision of war.
The effects of all of this can cause massive heart attacks, which rob us of the chance to work. Suicide is what some of us turn to to end the hell. As well we turn to booze or drugs to stop the torment. This I call tell you offers but a few hours of peace while we are passed out. It only get worse when we awaken again.
We only receive little income, yet we suffer as much as a person who loses a limb. I’d like you to try to live on less than $1,400.00 per month. I use to make $25.00 per hour.
I would not wish this hell which I go through on my worst enemy. They say they cannot make it go away. All I ask is that you at least let me live in comfort, above the poverty line. I kept my part of the deal Minister… I served where you sent me, under the conditions of that area of operation. It was a war zone, not a special duty area. The deal was I do what you order me to do and if I can no longer do my job, you would take care of me. I kept my part of the deal. I served in a hell hole. When will Ottawa keep their part?
PTSD is living always in hell with a continuous running of that hell which we served in. I with unloaded rifle was forced to use only my fists and boots and a pick handle against armed troops. As well we did not receive any UN pay. It was split between the Turks and Greeks. Minister, I was shot in Jan 1979. I feel that I paid for the bullet which violated my body. When it came time to receive my medal, it was tossed to me by a hungover officer after double duty on OPs ( 16 hours), not pinned on my chest like the majority of my unit. Many wrongs have been visited on me, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. I did not see any Peace during my tour, only war, and I don’t know any now. It will end when I die…. I hope.
We don’t ask for much, just what was promised: a proper amount of pension for the rest of our lives, treatment for our wounds and respectful treatment of us.
I am more than willing to come to Ottawa to speak to any Veterans committee hearing or even you. I am more than willing to speak about PTSD and its effects as well as the treatment I receive. Also the lack of pensions. Please understand, Minister, I am thankful for all the help Veterans affairs Canada has given me. I would point out that Colleen Garlough of the Windsor Office has helped me so much. I am lucky to have had her looking after me. From others, I hear of VAC workers who are not as helpful. To best serve a Veteran, you need to have Veterans manning those VAC offices.
Canadian Soldiers are the best in the world. While the new charter has done some really good things for Veterans, it needs to be changed to lifetime pensions for us and at a decent level of income. More treatment centers like Parkwood are needed.
In closing, I’d love to see my pension fixed to a lifetime pension and improved treatment for the hellish wound called PTSD. I did as Ottawa commanded. Please in return give us livable pensions and good treatment for our wounds, both the physical as well as the terrible wounds to our minds. Help Canadians before helping other countries. We are owed that courtesy.
Also minister I speak not only of myself… but for the 10s of thousands of men and women of the Canadian Forces who have and do serve this great country called Canada. The people of Canada walk everyday in peace and safety far from the horrors of war and strife. Why? Because we left these shores to ensure that war never visits this country’s shores, but is fought many miles away.
We served and kept our part of the deal. It’s time Ottawa keeps their part. It is a national shame that Canada’s Veterans live in squalor without a roof over their heads or food to eat. We suffer greatly. Too many have died at their on hand because the was no treatment or that treatment was slow to come. As well, because we were unable to work, there was no money to keep us fed and housed in comfort, which we earned the right to. We freely served only to be left without the means to live with dignity for the rest of our years. It is time to right this wrong, here now, today.
God Bless Canada and her Soldiers and Veterans!
cc MP Bev Shepley