Editor: I am of the belief, as in all likelihood most of you are, that most political people have little if any idea of the breadth and scope of the problem our veterans find themselves in at present. Unless they have close ancestors who served in our nation’s military forces and may have some comprehension of what it means and meant to serve and become a veteran, they just don’t get it.
Many see it as an expense to have to fund any honourable care, or long-term care for our veterans and have even gone so far as to abolish the Veterans Act or Pension Act and replace it with a New Veteran Charter that was purported to bring sweeping new changes for our veterans. Changes for sure, less and less support for those Canadians that have voluntarily dedicated a portion or most of their lives to the defence of freedom, human rights and democracy. For some 670,000 veterans and their families, this is not a joke, it has never been a joke yet the care and the well-being of our veterans and their families may as well be a joke and it has been that way for 20 or 30 years or more! The last decade has been a complete fiasco, definitely nothing to live, love and laugh about.
Year after year, government after government, it not only appears but seems to have become apparent that there is almost a delight in the atrocities perpetrated against a minority. Less than two per cent of Canadians are veterans (an unseen minority), yet one would be lead to believe the majority of the costs and debts of this nation are as a direct result of Canada’s troops, our veterans.
Those who had the courage and conviction to “volunteer” to serve and did so wherever and whenever required, many at great cost to their physical, emotional and psychological well-being and some with their lives. This also plays a substantial role in the well-being of their families, yet instead of an honourable and suitably substantial support mechanism to aid and support veterans and their families, the once honourable Veterans Act or Pension Act for Veterans was done away with and replaced with an insurance type ploy to toss the damaged goods a few bucks and the policy terminated.
Government after government has made the life of a veteran and their family worse and worse until we are now at a point where the life of an injured and or disabled veteran is a living hell, in fact it has been so for going on a decade.
So I would ask does anyone that wants to discuss the political turmoil, the hardships and distasteful acts introduced in a so-called better way to treat our veterans.
There is one very well versed statesman out there who has been pounding the beat for veterans and their families in an effort to eliminate the “claw-back” of veterans pensions when they turn 65. Peter Stoffer, MP, has repeatedly pointed out that it is an injustice to claw back veterans’ pensions at age 65 while members’ of Parliament pensions have been made “claw-back proof.”
A man of great repute and integrity, John Labelle has pointed out the Veterans’ Pension fund of some $52 billion was used to pay down the national debt and in return, they still have their pensions clawed-back and in a paltry gesture of care, Veterans Affairs threw a measly $4.1 billion towards the care of veterans, are you ready for this, over the next 50 years.
Let’s do a little math here. If the $4.1 billion over 50 years works out to be about $82 million a year and that was evenly applied to 670,000 veterans that would be about $122 a year each, and that would be assuming that all of them lived for the full 50 years. One hundred and twenty-two dollars! And that too is the reality of the type of care at present being allocated to our nation’s Veterans.
Is it any wonder that honourable men and women like Pat Stogran, Harold Leduc, John Labelle, Dale Dirks, Jacques DeWinter, Mike Blais, Billy Willbond, Dennis Manuge, Louise Richard, Sean Bruyea, Eileen Steele, Michelle Lesieur, Rob Gallant, Laurie Dirks, and many more have with integrity, courage and conviction taken up the torch in support and defence of the fair and honourable treatment of veterans and their families.
Veterans love their country and are proud to call Canada the greatest nation to live in the world. They have volunteered to don the uniform in defence of freedoms. . . . freedom of speech, democracy and human rights, yet, as a minority, these same veterans who have done so much for the majority; regrettably are seen as a drain on the public purse, all $122 a year.
By David W. Palmer
Dave W. Palmer, CD, of Nepean, Ont., a graduate of the Canadian Forces School of Administration and Logistics, received the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals for outstanding work with veterans. He is also a Paul Harris Fellowship winner awarded by Rotary International.