Feature Story                                              

Thursday, Feb 1, 2018

Veterans

Their Oath Has No Expiry Date

The "Unremembered" explains how vets feel on super annuity

By L. Tex Leugner

 

R

              egarding the Cochrane 

              Eagle story in which Councilors Nagel and Reed outlined a plan to have the new bridge named to honour Canadian veterans and those whose lives have been lost in combat, I commend these gentlemen for their idea, but what about Canada’s living veterans?


I am disgusted and disappointed that for years, Canada has been building memorials across the country to honour soldiers who have died in combat, yet almost nothing is being done by Canadians to help our living veterans who are suffering from post traumatic combat stress and serious physical injuries.

 

Until 2006 when the Government of Canada implemented an inadequate New Veterans Charter, all injured veterans were supported financially under the old War Allowance Veterans Pension Act. This lifelong support disappeared under the NVC when almost all of the veteran’s benefits were replaced with a one-time cash payout, inadequate taxable (clawed back at age 65) pensions and a “thank you for your service handshake” then these veterans were thrown away like old boots! 

 

First Conservative and now the Liberal government have both fiddled with the Charter and made some minor improvements to support our injured veterans, yet the Sacred Obligation for lifetime care offered by Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden during WWI has never been properly fulfilled by Canada.

Canada does in fact owe a sacred and moral obligation to its veterans and their immediate families; The War Allowance Act clearly defines that covenant with the following words: The provisions of this act shall be liberally construed and interpreted to the end that the recognized obligation of the people and Government of Canada to those who have served their country so well and to their dependants may be fulfilled.”



Consider the following facts; 158 soldiers died in combat in Afghanistan, but by the end of 2015, 54 Afghanistan War veterans had committed suicide. Total numbers are inconclusive but many more (including some who were still serving), have committed suicide, are homeless, helpless or have turned to drugs or alcohol to dim the memories of the horrors of combat and Canada literally does nothing.

On 18 November 2017, a group of concerned Alberta veterans held a fundraiser to raise funds to support veterans and first responders suffering from PTSD. Although it was well publicized in the Calgary area community by volunteers, not one local television, newspaper or radio station ran any coverage of this event.

A news conference was held at the Military Museums on 23 September 2017 and not one news outlet that had been informed of the date and time showed up! Without the sight of “body bags” in evidence this fundraising event to help “our unremembered veterans” was apparently no longer news.

In 2016, the Alberta government under Notley carried out a despicable act of ingratitude and cancelled funding for the Circle of Mental Health and Addiction, the legacy project established by Alberta’s former Lt Governor, Colonel (Ret’d) Don Ethell, to help Alberta veterans suffering from mental health issues.

Several years ago, 6 seriously injured Afghanistan veterans began a class action suite against the former Conservative government of PM Harper in an attempt to obtain adequate support for their injuries. Recently a BC Court of Appeals has overturned an earlier ruling of the BC Supreme Court regarding this suite. The Courts claim that there is no legislation that creates a social contract between military members and the
Government of Canada, or in simplistic terms; “the government (Canada) has no obligation to care for its military and veterans!”

Canada continues to build meaningless monuments honoring soldiers who died in combat with no knowledge of this gratitude, while ignoring those veterans still alive and suffering. I guess there remains some truth to the statement by an old soldier who told me recently; “better to die in battle than to have to go to war with our government”.

L. (Tex) Leugner, KStG, CD, Warrant Officer (Ret’d), Vice President, Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers Association of Western Canada, Cochrane Alberta

 


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