Don’t abandon our troups

Brenda Schimke
ECA Review Journalist

A group of more than 4,500 physically and mentally injured Afghanistan war veterans sue the federal government for disability benefits, and win. The year is 2012.  The federal government considers appealing the costly ruling, but decides not to.
Instead their Omnibus Budget will mandate millions of dollars be cut from Veteran’s Affairs even as the recently-ended Afghanistan war will add approximately 41,200 new veterans.
Hollywood is good at glorifying war. Politicians use war to rally patriotism and the photo ops are PR candy.  Arms manufacturers rub their hands in glee.
But the cost of war, after the fighting stops, is hugely expensive.

The United States estimates that 10 per cent to 25 per cent of returning soldiers may experience mental health issues and post-traumatic stress.
The estimated future bill for Canada to take care of our harmed and hurting veterans is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $11 billion, according to  David Perry former deputy director of Dalhousie University’s Centre of Foreign Policy Studies.
It’s hard not to feel shame and anger towards a government that willfully took away benefits from veterans and then spent our hard-earned tax dollars to fight them in a court of law.
In his ruling, Justice Robert Barnes wrote the federal government’s action “wholly deprives disabled veterans of an important financial award to compensate for disabling injuries suffered in the service of Canadians.”
Red poppies have been worn since 1921 as a tribute to fallen soldiers, inspired by John McCrae’s 1915 poem.  As we wear our poppies and attend Remembrance Day ceremonies on Sunday, November 11th, let’s take the time to reflect on and pray for those veterans whose return has been anything but pretty.
War is horrific.  Post-traumatic stress and mental health problems are real for those who serve our country in active combat.
Our government, on behalf of all Canadians has a moral responsibility to these men and women.  May our veterans never again face the shame of a nation taking them to court to deny them their need for care.

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