It is all to common to only show love to war Veterans in this country on November 11. The rest of the year, we basically ignore all they have done over the years to keep our freedom, and the freedom of democratic countries all over the world. And that would be welcome by most Vets today rather than the shaft they are getting from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino and the Harper government.
On Tuesday, a delegation of ex-soldiers and Vets from across the country gave a final plea to Minister Fantino to not close 8 regional Ministry offices that would seriously compromise the ability of Vets, many of whom are in the 70’s, 80’s and older, to seek help with benefits and treatments. The same benefits and treatments that was promised to them when they signed up to serve our country so many years ago.
To be be fair, the Prime Minister has reassured our vets that technology is in place to help those who can’t make it to the more central offices and some office staff will even make house calls to make sure that no Vet is left behind. Admirable, but some things may not have been thought out carefully enough.
How many 70 and 80 year olds do you know are tech savvy enough to return e-mails, do live video chats, and text on their smart phone? Not many I assure you. I’m also distrustful of the bureaucracy that surrounds most civil service and can only imagine those “home visits” will be end up being yearly or worse. Our Vets, the ones that we promised to take care of in their golden years for their service to this country, deserve much better.
The Minister of Veteran Affairs could have been more empathetic to the Veterans who traveled to Ottawa to speak with him. As he left the meeting to attend another meeting, he told the group of ex-soldiers that decisions were final and that the government had “found alternate accommodations that we feel will adequately address Veterans and their needs.” Obviously not all Vets feel the same Minister Fantino.
Here’s a thought. Why not help the ones in our society who ensured that we’d be a free and prosperous country rather than push them out the proverbial door. That unfortunately would go against the unspoken agenda of our Conservative government. Whether it’s by choice or by accident, the government has been disrespecting our fighting men and women for a few years now. First it was sending our troops into battle without the proper equipment following them into a Middle East theatre of war. Then when our soldiers came home, it was to make sure that those who were injured physically and mentally were discharged before pensions would have to be honoured and left to fend for themselves. Now they close shop on 8 offices that would make it easier for all our Vets to continue getting the help and care they require and deserve. And such is the process of systematically dismantling the services that were promised to our service men and women by Prime Ministers Borden, King and St. Laurent.
Money must be saved, and budgets must be balanced. I get it. But why must it be on the backs of those that ensured our democracy so many years ago. Our Vets deserve much better.
One last thought on this… with the cuts and disrespect that this government continues to press upon our Veterans, I would suggest that the Prime Minister and Minister Fantino think twice about laying wreaths at Cenotaphs this upcoming Remembrance Day. It could be seen as quite insulting.
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