We are just a month shy of Remembrance Day, and now that Canada’s role in Afghanistan has a much lower profile, the problems of our military veterans are out of sight, out of mind for most of us.
Hats off to Murray Brewster of the Canadian Press for continuing to remind us that our government in Ottawa is not much of a friend of disabled vets, if there’s money to be saved.
It’s a complicated tale that goes back to 1976 and affects more than four thousand former Canadian soldiers. In a nutshell, the government clawed back disability benefits from these men and women for decades. Recently a tribunal of federal judges ruled unanimously that the clawback was illegal, and the government has decided not to fight the matter any further.
To remedy this injustice, and properly compensate the men and woman who are still living, or their surviving relatives, will cost $600 million or more. And the tab for fighting this loser of a legal case ? Would you believe more than $750,000?
Even if the clawback had never happened, these people would not have been living in anything resembling luxury. They face a variety of very serious ailments, physical, emotional and psychological. Relatively few of them were able to find employment afterwards in civilian life. They’ve been plagued by problems with addictions and relationship difficulties.
There are countless tragic stories that began with young people who once thought of no finer calling than wearing a Canadian uniform, and trying to make the world a better and safer place.
Over the past decade they have been pushed to the limit and beyond in that hellhole known as Afghanistan. Asked to comment on how long it might take to achieve a final settlement for disabled veterans, a spokesman for Defence Minister Peter McKay said “the care of our injured personnel is the minister’s number one priority.”
Somehow it makes you want to vomit.
I’m Roger Currie
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