Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Price of Service

I admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the men and women who serve in our country’s military.  They voluntarily choose a life of service because they believe that they can help protect our country.  They are often sent to  help people who live in countries that don’t have the same freedoms that we enjoy.  Sometimes they enter these countries in roles which put them in clear and present danger.
The men and women in my family who answered the call to service did so during the First and Second World Wars.  They left their families and loved ones and travelled across the ocean to fight on the fields of Europe.  The endured unspeakable conditions, poor food, little pay and harsh discipline because they felt it was important.  Not all of them came home.  It’s the same for today’s military.  The equipment may be better and perhaps even the food, but they still put their lives on the line when asked.

Recently in the news, there have been stories about Veterans who have been denied benefits they requested.  They weren’t asking for vacations in sunny locations or new cars.  They were looking for things like foot care.  Home workers who could help them maintain a reasonable standard of living in their homes.  Treatment for PTSD.  These men and women gave of themselves to maintain Canada’s status as one of the best places on Earth to live.  They help to represent to the world what is best in us as Canadians.  They often do this at the cost of their peace of mind, their families and their health.  When they return don’t they deserve help?

To make matters worse, when these Veterans are denied benefits, the letters they receive are often unclear as to why the decision was made to deny the claim.  If someone goes off to fight for me and my country and then returns and asks for help, I believe they should get it – few to no questions asked.  I’m not saying that there don’t need to be checks and balances to the system.  Not every claim is high priority and often we have to trade off the greatest good with what we are able to do in an economically responsible manner, but let’s have some common sense when it comes to helping these people.  Don't they deserve to at least understand why their claim may have been denied?  If we don’t give our Veterans the help they need and deserve on their return, how long will it be before we can no longer find people willing to go to place themselves in harm’s way?

I can’t help but think of a bumper sticker I saw a few years ago.  It put things into terms that were perfectly clear – If you don’t stand behind our Troops, You’re welcome to stand in front of them.

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