Supporting Our Veterans in the 21st Century

It is Remembrance Day in 2014.  It is the day we remember those who sacrificed for our country.  We remember those who gave their lives in the Great War of a 100 years ago.  It is a day we remember veterans like my father who served in World War 2.  It is a day for solemn and reflective thought for relatives many of us never knew because they never returned from places like Flanders or Korea.  This has been the tradition of Remembrance Day however the world of veterans has changed.

Uncle Pete military and scout master
Uncle Pete military and scout master

I am sad to say I have no military pictures of my father.  He was a gunnery sergeant and never spoke of his experiences until much later in his life.  The picture to the left is my uncle, my dad’s brother.  Their lives became forever intertwined, not just as brothers, but as veterans as well.  Today we remember both of them, now passed on.  We remember with the poppy but the meaning of the poppy has now gone further than Flanders Field.  To the new generation of veteran the poppy stands for remembrance more than a field of fallen in some faraway land and that is by no means meant to denigrate Flanders Fields.  These are the new veterans and Flanders was not exactly their war.

War has changed and the way it is reported has changed.  Veterans can no longer come home and not talk about it.  Or at the least not be questioned about it.  We no longer live in a time where the only reports we ever received on the war effort was the five minute “World News” segment before the movie started in the local theatre.  That was the way of World War 2 and the Korean War.  By Viet Nam mass media had taken over.  We were bombarded with it on TV.

And now we have “embedded” reporters traveling with the troops.  We get a front seat on the war from the camera’s point of view.  There is no privacy anymore for our veterans.  Hell we even have a highway to commemorate the fallen.  We receive national exposure every time a hearse travels the Highway of Hero’s.

The world of veterans has changed since my fathers day.  We can no longer deal with vets like we did in the 60’s and 70’s.  This is a brand new breed and society has changed.  There is no way our veterans should have to come home and engage in yet another battle to receive the services they fought to protect.  And yet this government continues to erode services for those most in need.

Yes veterans return home and re-enter their community successfully.  And yes many veterans requiring assistance receive it however many don’t.  A growing number return with disorders much more complicated that many of the vets from the past can even think of.

The technology of war has changed and with it the post-war disorders.  And yet, from all reports, veterans are coming home to engage in even more conflict just to receive the assistance they were told would be there for them.  We now have system that is governed by policy and regulations while being administered by gatekeepers.  Gatekeepers whose hands are tied by bureaucrats.  This is not care, this is production line processing.

And unfortunately, from all reports, it is also taking it’s toll on the veterans community.  This government is now pitting different veterans groups against each other.  Much of this conflict is generational which is a topic for a whole different article.  So I go back to my initial assertion that the world of veterans has changed.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is what veterans share, a brotherhood.  Although they may not all be in agreement with the current state of affairs, it is very important for the unity to remain among them.  It is so important for the brotherhood of veterans to stand strong.  They may not recognize many of the issues that are not common between different generations of veterans but one thing is certain…they are all veterans.

This Remembrance Day lets make them aware that every Canadian stands behind them and support their fight for services.  This Remembrance Day don’t just wear a poppy, send a message.  E-mail your MP and let them know that taking care of veterans is not a one day a year job.

Just one man’s opinion and let’s not forget!




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