Derek Shelly of Post Media News invited an array of bloggers from across the country to participate in an on-line election project called "the Real Agenda;" in which we could raise the issues we think our politicians should be talking about on the campaign trail. This is Whatever He Says' submission.
I was in my car, listening to an interview on CBC radio with a Canadian soldier and his wife. He was home from the war in Afghanistan; sort of. He was home in body, but the man who came home was not the same man that left—not on the inside. Their story was of a lack of understanding, financial support, and resources for returning vets.
I reached my destination, but found myself gripped by the interview. I grew up in the 1950s, the daughter of a veteran of World War 11. He never spoke of what he experienced until just before his death. He drank too much; was prone to rage and was distant emotionally, except when drinking.
We didn’t know the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) back then, but now that label explains a lot. He was suffering, and not just with the old shrapnel wound in his leg. He had wounds that no one saw but which were just as real as those you could. And he was just doing the best he could with the wounds that were never acknowledged. I wish I had been able to tell him that I understood all that before he died. Too late I realize just how brave he was and that he would have been so different had he not been through the unimaginable trauma of the battle field.
Men and women of my generation—the Baby Boomers--know the impact a war had on our parents---we lived with the scars and it isn’t hard in hindsight, to connect the dots.
With current knowledge and awareness, we should do a better job of understanding and supporting veterans who are physically or emotionally disabled as a result of active duty, but, according to the interview, it seems that the help they and their families need, is just not there.
The men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces represent the people of Canada when they go to keep peace or wage war. They do a job that puts them in harm’s way. I am proud of their bravery, sacrifice, and the difference they make for less fortunate countries while representing Canada.
Canada is known internationally for the way it honours its fallen soldiers, but surviving soldiers are heroes too. We must not abandon them in their hour of need.
As we embark on a federal election campaign in Canada, I would like to hear from the leadership candidates about their party’s plans to honour all of our returning veterans, ensuring we make life better for them and their families.