Lest We Forget

By Catherine Dickinson, Federal President

We have chosen November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that marked the end of World War 1, to honour those who have served our country in armed conflicts.  We remember those who have died; more than 100 000 Canadians have given their lives in service.  This is not something to be taken lightly. However, as peace activists, we should be asking why aren’t we doing more to build a better, more peaceful world, and ensuring that phrases like “never again” on Remembrance Day are truly spoken, rather than just recited in lip service to our honoured war dead.

We should be using this day not only to remember, but to recommit to supporting and improving the lives of veterans who, while they may have returned home, have sustained wounds both visible and invisible.  The hypocrisy of the current government is that it has fetishized the military and our war history more than any government in recent history, and yet still manages to dismiss and disrespect veterans through the policies and actions of the government and its representatives. Recent examples reported in the media include issues such as veterans’ pensions, barriers to accessing veterans' burial funds, and the lack of real supports for veterans living in poverty .  These are only a few of the ways in which our government is failing to care for our veterans.

Veterans and their families deserve our gratitude for their sacrifices - not just on Remembrance Day, but every day through government policies that make sure that they are cared for, supported, and treated with dignity and respect.  New Democrats are committed to this and have recommitted to this.  At our federal convention in Montreal in 2013 we passed a 12 part omnibus resolution updating our policy position on veterans affairs including:

  • Replacing the Veterans Review and Appeal Board with  a medical evidence-based peer reviewed process for disability benefit applications in consultation with veterans and veterans’ organizations;

  • Improving, reviewing, and updating the New Veterans Charter including the lump-sum payment to injured veterans;

  • Applying the principle of One Veteran, One Standard to all federal government programs and services for veterans.  Eliminate the current program approach that unfairly establishes “classes” of veterans and family members and offers benefits based on where or when the veteran served and the type of service;

  • Better support for those suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) for currently serving Canadian Forces and RCMP members and veterans;

  • Expanding the role of the Veterans Ombudsman to provide independent analysis and reports to Parliament;

  • Ensuring veterans programs and services are kept current, quickly respond to identified gaps in veterans’ care, and continually update programs to ensure needs of veterans and their families are met.

Let’s do more than wear a poppy and have a moment of silence today; let’s speak up for our veterans and their families to ensure that they have what they need to live with dignity.

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Showing 3 reactions

commented 2013-11-12 02:50:17 -0500 · Flag
Okay, for those that were thinking I’m crazy because I couldn’t see the Share to Facebook or Tweet buttons, it turns out AdBlock Plus thought they were ads. Oops.
commented 2013-11-11 19:45:51 -0500 · Flag
Is there a way that articles can have Facebook share buttons added? For now, I’ll just copy and paste the link but it’d be great if we had it setup to share to Facebook and Twitter right away.
commented 2013-11-11 19:43:12 -0500 · Flag
Good article except for the reference to peace activists. I don’t really consider myself a peace activist and I don’t think all New Democrats are although it depends on how the term is used.

I certainly want to see more peace in the world but sometimes you have to stand up to bullies (like in WW2 and the Taliban in Afghanistan). That’s not to say that atrocities haven’t been committed in both conflicts but people like Hitler can’t be reasoned with. In fact, Britain and other European countries tried that approach and ended with war anyway, and one in which the enemy already had an upper hand.

In any case, I totally agree that we need to do a lot more for veterans than we do. No veteran should have to live in poverty and all veterans should be treated equally including those in the merchant marines who risked their lives protecting convoys delivering supplies to Britain and its allies.