THE BLOG

Why Our Veterans Are Not Disposable

11/08/2013 12:39 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Canadian Soldiers are being treated as disposable if they get injured in the line of duty. This practice has to stop immediately.

In an apparent effort to save costs, the federal government is discharging injured veterans before they have enough active years of service to be eligible for a pension.

There are two soldiers from my riding of London-Fanshawe who have been affected by this unacceptable and callous practice -- Corporal David Hawkins and Corporal Andrew Knisley.

In the case of Cpl Hawkins, who suffers from PTSD as a result of military service, he was declared "unfit to deploy" and discharged last month after nine years of service and just shy of the 10 years required to qualify for a pension. Despite his pleas to reach the 10-year mark, he was rejected.

Veterans and Canadian Forces personnel from London have told me that this practice is creating a legacy of disgrace and shame that all Canadians will share for decades to come. It is the Federal Government's duty to care and provide for these brave men and women through the years of hardship and rehabilitation that awaits them. They are not columns on a ledger; they are not excess baggage; they are the very best of what Canada represents.

Just months ago, the Minister for Veterans Affairs stood in a Legion in London, Ontario and promised members that soldiers would no longer be cut loose. Clearly, that practice continues. I am calling upon the government to stop giving weak excuses and apologize to these Canadian heroes who have been dismissed because of the Conservative government's efforts to balance the budget.

Our soldiers deserve better and we must do all that we can to rectify this disgraceful situation.

Whether it is honouring the promise to injured soldiers that the Canadian Forces would find a place for them to continue to contribute, or modernizing the rules so that instead of closing long-term care beds at Parkwood Hospital, we are making those beds available to modern-day veterans who have served our country in uniform, our military personnel and veterans deserve respectful treatment.

These brave men and women sacrificed so much for our freedom. We must ensure they are always taken care of -- in service and retirement. And we should continue to honour them by promoting the values of peace and justice for which they fought. This Remembrance Day, let us all promise to do more for past and present Canadian Forces and RCMP personnel. We will remember them.