In seven days, Canada lost four soldiers to suicide. They died of despair. Suffering mental wounds from their service, able to foresee the end of their careers but unable to see how they could survive after, they succumbed to their injuries and took their own lives. We might give it fancy clinical names, like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Operational Stress Injury, but that doesn't change the condition: broken mind.
Forget the homeless Veterans. Forget the lawsuits, and how the Harper Government says they are not obligated to provide for Veterans. Forget the closure of VAC Offices, the cuts to staff and the consequent loss of service to Veterans. Forget the Veterans kicked out of the Forces before they are eligible for pensions. Forget the families of poor Veterans, denied funeral expenses.
Some argue that combat is what defines a veteran. Think about that for a minute and you'll realize that such a definition overlooks all the logistics, support, medical, and other personnel. Think about all the aircraft mechanics required in WWII -- are they not veterans? Of course they are. Look around. Pay attention to the veterans walking among us every day.
In the process of legally enforcing the court order last Thursday, the RCMP officers were met with violence from some members of the Elsipogtog community. The so-called Elsipogtog "protesters" were found in possession of improvised explosive devices that were modified to discharge shrapnel which used a fuse-ignition system. And they possessed a cache of knives and guns. No Canadian citizens or residents are above the law. I hope the full force of the law will be brought to bear on those perpetrators of these violent acts and on those who have aided, abetted, and assisted in these violent acts.
Obviously, the Minister didn't intend that every person who dies or is injured in service to the public is a veteran. But what he did was imply that injury or death is required for one to be considered a veteran. That may be a convenient definition for a government intent on saving money on the back of our veterans, but it's a silly notion for nation that requires a military.
Dear Steve: Ordinarily, I'm not in the habit of writing to sitting prime ministers. But even I have to pause and wonder what the heck is going on with your gang up there in Ottawa these days. Have you all been starting cocktail hour at lunchtime or smoking all that excess B.C. bud confiscated by the RCMP?
After a string of reports over 10 years, government legislation Bill C-42, and more recently a report by the Senate Defence Committee providing 14 recommendations for change, our offices continue to receive emails from RCMP staff. The emails provide a grim look into the past, and offer little hope for the future. They are from people at the end of their ropes. Reassurances from Ottawa, they tell us, have little impact on their daily lives and they are looking for real change. Those who have publicly spoken out have been chastised for doing so, but most of victims still love the organization and want to lend a hand fixing it. They are asking us: "what's actually changed?" and more importantly, "what's next?"
You can't watch the police riot at the G20 summit or the killing of Sammy Yatim in the bus on all those smartphones and surveillance cameras without believing that maybe, just maybe, the era of the thin blue line endlessly protecting its own might be ending. Not because the cops have cleaned up their act. But because now they're being watched.