Robyn Benson, PSAC

"Why do we as veterans have to beg?"

Aylward Veterans Press Conference.jpg

In a last-ditch effort to save regional service offices from closing, veterans from across the country made a direct appeal to Veterans Affairs Minister James Fantino yesterday, at an Ottawa news conference we were privileged to organize and participate in.

A face-to-face meeting with the Minister later yesterday did not go well. Veterans said they were treated with disrespect, and called for Fantino’s resignation.

Meanwhile, in Sydney, Nova Scotia, more veterans staged a sit-in. This is hardly a group that one normally associates with that kind of direct action. But they’re desperate.

These offices, and the services our members provide, are vital to veterans. Without them, they would have to travel long distances at their own expense to access those services. Many, suffering from a variety of battlefield injuries, will simply not be able to make the trip.

One office has already been closed. Another eight are slated for closure at the end of the week. The savings to the government are all of $3.7 million—far, far less than the costs of the government’s incessant Economic Action Plan ads. Aren’t those who were sent into battle and who returned, scarred physically and mentally, worth this small amount?

The Leader of the Opposition, Tom Mulcair, rose in the House of Commons today to speak on behalf of the veterans. But all Canadians owe our support to these brave men and women, no matter what our politics. It’s a matter of keeping a solemn promise made to our troops on the eve of the battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I, by the Prime Minister at the time, Sir Robert Borden.

“You can go into this action,” he said, “feeling assured of this, and as the head of the government I give you this assurance: That you need not fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country and Empire in what you are about to do and what you have already done.”

That promise is being broken as I write this. “Why do we as veterans have to beg?” asked Roy Lamore, a WWII veteran from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

A damn good question. Why indeed, Mr. Harper?

[Photo Credit: CTV News]

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on January 29, 2014 9:28 AM.

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