There is a stark contrast between what Veterans want and need, and what the Harper Government is presenting. Veterans need benefits, pensions, enough money to live on, and assistance accessing programs. Veterans are in crisis across Canada -- mental health crisis, financial crisis, family crisis resulting from both -- and deserve help. Decorated Veterans are suing Canada for not providing for them; a shameful situation which decent people would settle quickly. What has Harper offered? No jobs, more expensive health plans, more emphasis on the depersonalized VAC web service.
Type 1 diabetes was once lethal but thanks to the Nobel prize-winning research conducted at the University of Toronto in 1921-22, had become a controllable condition through daily injections of insulin derived from cattle and pigs. My father's story reminds me about the importance of universities as places that create the space for big "what if" and "I wonder" questions.
I was not the least bit surprised when I read that Ellen Richardson was banned entry into the U.S. because she suffered with depression and had a history of attempted suicide. That was unconscionable, but I do have a suggestion that may help prevent this for others. The police explained that many, if not all, contacts with them end up in their database. Regrettably, it is too late to help Ellen Richardson but others who may be in a similar situation and who may be travelling to the U.S. should check with their own police departments to find out what may have been entered.
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.