THE BLOG

Are People Enlisting in the Military to Help Their Country or Help Themselves?

09/19/2014 05:54 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 01:01 EDT

This topic has been brewing within me for quite some time. I tackled the topic somewhat when I wrote about PTSD, and the fact that Canadian society focussed mostly on its impact in regards to those who suffered as a result of military service overseas (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/sandra-charron/ptsd-in-non-soldiers_b_5487092.html). This post in no way is meant to minimize what our Canadian troops do for Canadian citizens on a daily basis. As the daughter of an Air Force member and the wife of an army member for 12 years, I understand the struggles families go through having to live a life in which you never know when your loved one will have to leave in order to fulfill his/her duty to his/her country.

While we were married, my ex-husband did a tour to Somalia, Rwanda, and two tours to Bosnia. After our marriage, he was in a unit which had him doing military operations in Afghanistan regularly. So I know and understand the anxiety and fears associated with your spouse/partner leaving for a war torn country, with very little reassurance that he/she will be home in the same mental or physical shape that he/she left in, if he/she even returns at all.

However, with the experience and knowledge I have of the stresses associated with deployment, I am also aware of the financial compensation for the military member's time abroad. During my marriage to my ex-husband, because of his tours, the "danger pay" we received, and his tax-free wages while he was overseas, we were able to afford brand new vehicles, trips all over the world for our family, and a down payment on a house. Despite the constant worry, there was always the knowledge that our time apart, not to mention the severe danger that his life was in, did benefit us financially if he returned safely.

My sympathy for those members who return broken, or worse, who don't return at all, is sincere. However, once again, it needs to be mentioned that for many members, not all, but many, tours are greatly sought after because of the financial compensation, and sadly, the consequences are not at the forefront of their minds as they envision the lives they are providing for themselves and their families.

That having been said, for those who have suffered as a result of their service for their country, words cannot express the sadness at the life they must attempt to rebuild for themselves. It could and is argued that their compensation and the help they receive from our government upon their return are not nearly sufficient to make up for their loss, be it mental or physical.

Consequently though, every member setting foot on that plane which will take them to an extremely unsafe area of the world, is aware of the situation. And as previously mentioned, I personally know several members who volunteered for their first tour of duty, or returned for their second and third time because of the financial gains. Does this exempt them from government subsidies, job retraining, and other assistance upon their return should they return injured? Absolutely not.

Countless people in our country are victims of tragic crimes daily. Women and men are raped, beaten, shot; not to mention countless other disasters. Yet these people will not be offered programs, subsidies, or job retraining in order to help with their recovery. Numerous people in our country have been injured due to their jobs. Countless people have lost their limbs, their mental capacity, and their lives to the workplace. But in order to even qualify for continued pay, they must first pass all of the required tests provided by Workman's Compensation, and provide beyond a shadow of a doubt that their injury is not a "pre-existing" one.

This means that even a fall while on the job causing a break in one or more limbs, is not considered an actual case until Workman's Compensation has ruled out all other possibilities. For example, a person whose wrist which was osteoarthritic prior to the fall, will not be worthy of further financial support from Workman's Compensation because this osteoarthritic wrist, although fully functional before the fall, but now requiring a surgery to fuse the wrist due to the pain, will lose wrist mobility. But because the wrist was osteorarthritic because the accident on the job, Workman's Compensation considers this injury "pre-existing," Military members, no matter how large or small the condition, are not subject to such scrutiny.

Although comparing a broken bone to an amputated limb is not at all analogous, a civilian who loses a limb to a workplace injury is not provided anywhere near the compensation for such a tragedy as would a military member, who in all cases, is fully aware and prepared before deployment of the dangers involved in their jobs.

And yet, young men and women are still enlisting despite the rising dangers in our world. Although I still swear my allegiance to my country, I question how many of these military members are enlisting in order to serve their country or to serve themselves? And following this thought, a reevaluation of the compensation our injured civilian sector receives (or doesn't receive!) would be worth taking as seriously as we do the tragedies which befall our service members.

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