We cannot continue to hide from the truth. We broke them; we owe them. No amount of re-framing will change that fact. If these veterans made it home from a war, then we should be able to stop them being further casualties.
They have demonized Lionel Desmond as a typical example of male entitlement and bemoan the media portraying Lionel as a victim - when the lack of mental health services is central to this tragedy. Lionel was trying desperately to get help. Lionel was denied that help. The Desmond family is now dead.
I call the areas that used to have an office "Veteran Dead Zones" and encourage any soldier who will have to rely on Veterans Affairs to avoid living in these areas. The frustrating experiences that soldiers have to endure at the hands of an overworked understaffed offices only serves to exasperate soldiers further, resulting in a refusal to seek the services required. In essence, the government saves $5-million in operating costs, but the savings in providing the services will be in the tens of millions of dollars.
For Canada's veterans the Throne Speech was a big flop. It devoted a total of 10 sentences to vets, and only two of them said anything about Harper's plans. The other six were self-congratulatory backslapping: meaningless rhetoric from a government which appears to think supporting veterans is as simple as saying those words over and over.
Retired Corporal Dennis Manuge is the driving force behind the SISIP class action lawsuit over pension clawbacks. Last year, Manuge revealed that, in 2009, the Minister of Veterans Affairs was briefed on private details of his medical conditions and finances. Now, the former mechanic with the Royal Canadian Regiment says VAC also breached the privacy of his brother, Anthony.
There are many cases of privacy violation at Veterans Affairs. Those that have gone public have two things in common: they have all spoken out about VAC policy and they are all veterans. Some can prove the Minister was given their information. Some can only prove that Ministerial staff was reading their files. Why is this happening?
Though the Department of National Defence is cutting 1,000 jobs for austerity, some 157 employees will be sharing $2 million in bonuses. The whole bonus tradition in both public service and the private sector should cease. None of us has any control over what the private sector does, but government employees get enough perks as it is without extra money for doing the job they are paid for.