Rick Mercer: Injured Veterans Are Being Tossed To The Curb

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Rick Mercer believes Canada's last three defence ministers should take off their poppies — and stab themselves in the head with them — over the way injured veterans are being treated these days. (CP)
Rick Mercer believes Canada's last three defence ministers should take off their poppies — and stab themselves in the head with them — over the way injured veterans are being treated these days. (CP)

Rick Mercer believes Canada's last three defence ministers should take off their poppies — and stab themselves in the head with them — over the way injured veterans are being treated these days.

In a blistering rant Tuesday night, the CBC comedian accused the government of "throwing soldiers out of the service" when they are just months shy of the ten years of service required to qualify for a fully indexed pension.

The government has done this, he said, when such soldiers are no longer eligible to deploy overseas.

"And why can't they be deployed overseas? Because they are missing limbs, they are blind, they are deaf, they are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder," he said. "We sent them to Afghanistan, they came back broken and our government has found a loophole to throw them to the curb, so no pension for them."

Mercer argues the government has broken faith with the men and women who defend this country, while MPs and cabinet ministers are assured a pension after just six years.

"Not that being a cabinet minister is not a dangerous job. Most of them gain two suit sizes for every year they serve," Mercer quipped. "The threat of adult onset diabetes is real."

The comedian said the treatment of wounded veterans goes beyond politics, and instead to the heart of what we stand for as a nation.

"We ask these men and women to defend us," he said. "If we harm them, when they can no longer defend themselves — we stand for nothing."

Mercer's rant comes after stories of gravely injured troops being booted from the military before they qualify for a pension, despite assurances to the contrary from the Harper government.

Late last month, Cpl. David Hawkins, a former reserve combat engineer, was let go on a medical discharge because his PTSD means he is unable to deploy overseas.

Hawkins was about a year shy of being eligible for an indexed pension and had begged to remain until hitting the 10-year mark.

Cpl. Glen Kirkland will be discharged from the army in March, 2014. Kirkland was left with PTSD, damaged hearing and other injuries after a 2008 Taliban bombing that killed three of his comrades.

Though he received assurance from former defence minister Peter MacKay last June that he could stay until September 2015, Kirkland has chosen to leave rather than receive special treatment.

"I joined as a member of a team, as a family," Kirkland told a reporter last month. "So, when I was offered an opportunity when no one else was, it just goes against everything I joined for."

This is the second year in a row Mercer has dedicated a rant to the treatment of Canada's soldiers in the lead-up to Remembrance Day.

In a wildly popular rant last November, Mercer said Tory cuts to Veterans Affairs prove "lest we forget" is now meaningless.

With files from The Canadian Press

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