I have gone so far to argue that my experience in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban was equally as damaging to me mentally as the fight I face every day on the home front in Canada, with Veterans Affairs Canada. The ineptitude that the department operates under led to my first blog post and I can attest that I am not the only soldier who feels they have not been taken care of when coming home. Documentation of these abuses will be our greatest asset, because as the system gets inundated with the claims for sanctuary trauma, along with them will come testimonies of veterans about the glaring deficiencies within VAC.
General, might I offer up that, at the heart of the problem of suicide in the Forces, is that soldiers feel trapped and with no way out? That the widespread stigma against mental injury and illness, that the attitude you present -- that helping is coddling, and that your condescending attitude exemplifies the problem which soldiers face?
I hadn't planned on posting any sort of response to the Minister, as I've found it's best not to favour such accusations with comment. However, one of those individuals I referenced in my article wants to respond to the Minister's "corrections and clarifications" regarding how the Conservatives are supporting veterans.
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.
There continues to be a constant barrage of misinformation regarding Canada's Veterans. In total, our Government has invested almost $5 billion new dollars that has been put towards rehabilitation, re-training, and medical and financial benefits. I will continue to seek to fully pay homage to the depth of sacrifice of Canada's Veterans.
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.
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.
Every year, we put on a poppy, read a few feel-good stories about the surviving Second World War veterans, and maybe observe a moment of silence on the 11th. But veterans' news stories disappear almost immediately and are replaced with tales of holiday consumer-orgies. We should not be so quick to forget them.