Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day; but politicians forget

On this day of remembrance, it is unconceivable that Canadians do not take some time to examine the financial plight of our veterans. Over the years governments of every stripe have been responsible and responded to the call to arms with when required. Our young men have been thrown into the battlefield on several occasions to respond to attacks by our enemies. World War One and Two come to kind but we must not forget the other campaigns of Korea, and more recently the two wars in Iraq, and the continuing one in Afghanistan.

Despite President Obama’s stupid declaration that “the war on terror is over”, we shall continue to have skirmishes and perhaps even greater conflicts in the future.  The bigger issue that we should consider, on this day, is not only how we honour the heroes of the past but how we treat the survivors of all these wars. It is apparent that once these heroes return home they are quickly ignored and left to their own devices to survive in a world which they sometimes feel they do not belong due to mental and physical illnesses suffered on the battlefield.

Today with advances in medicine there are more survivors, but alas many of them survive without limbs and mental problems. Today we acknowledge ‘Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’ which once was diagnosed as ‘shell shocked’. Yet we still do not do enough to re-integrate these great men into normal life.

In addition, governments try to ignore the financial plight of these men. We talk a lot about their bravery but we do little to compensate them adequately for their service. This is not a partisan issue as governments on different political spectrum treat these men with the same disregard. The Conservative government in Canada and the Democrat and Republican leadership in the U.S share the same blame.

We remember these men’s and women’s sacrifices, but we do not compensate them appropriately. Yet governments get bigger and salaries and union wages keep growing and increase the taxpayers’ burden. But we do not find enough funds to make sure that these heroes have a future life devoid of the financial loads they face.

For the past couple of months we have seen the Senate travesty of politicians defending the alleged misuse of taxpayers’ money by three Senators. We debate whether they should retain their health benefits and pensions, and yet we do not debate how we can better look after our soldiers.  Mental health is difficult enough to treat, but financial help should be easier. It takes only a change in Legislature and Congress to remedy the situation.

On November 11 of each year we have ceremonies around the world to honour the fallen, but the following day we do not discuss how to look after the survivors. New generations are reminded:  “Lest we forget’, but it seems that politicians of all stripes do forget what we owe the fallen and the survivors. Politicians should cut the rhetoric and provide the survivors of all wars with adequate support.

Marcel Latouche