Maybe You Have A Thought Of Your Own? 

Maybe You Have A Thought Of Your Own?

It’s interesting, that every time we try to improve our given predicament we are challenged as to whether or not we have done what is right. I am speaking right now on how the veterans who have overcome battlefield disables and injuries to compete in the Olympic style setting of the Invictus Games. Some question whether our government is using the games successes as political fodder to support or hide its lack of commitment to the myriad of issues that it fails to resolve with regard to veterans. It seems regardless of political party in power, or how many years go by those problems linger on without resolution. Would or does Canadian Government use recovering veterans to promote its political agenda? Um…ya of course it would and does, but from a solution perspective should that matter?

Morally yes of course, at present there are a couple of court challenges surrounding veteran’s pensions and care. Issues surrounding controls of care and treatment, culpability, proof of injury, wait times, not to mention the redundant appeal process, have been circling veterans and their care givers for decades. If anyone spent even a little time in any one of these grievous areas investigating or reading the complaints, arguing the question quickly becomes moot. There is a reason so many are “pissed off” and vocal on the subject, and why so many criticize government for the mere appearance that it would gloss over its own roll in veterans health (or lack of it). Perhaps the better question is what can be done about it. Well other than court challenges and demonstrations which are already being done and largely ignored it is a good question considering the issues have been ignored for so long. But even that is changing.

Media (CBC and the Globe in particular) ran national coverage on the Mefloquin and Somalia inquiry protest on Parliament Hill, on the 19th and 20th of September. I was shocked to see coverage nationally to be truthful, but also very grateful to see change coming in the coverage of these types of issues. It seems not only government but veterans are repeating history. Post World War 2 veterans in the face of an apathetic government formed what we now know as the Canadian Legion. It was their answer to an unanswered call for help. Flash back over the past 25 years and the ignored needs of veterans as a whole and much has not changed.

Oh, we recognize the Afghanistan veterans and their plight with suicide, but  not the suicides of the Gulf War, Rwanda, Somalia, Bosnia/Yugoslavia/Croatia, nor do we vocally oppose or stand up to be accounted for when addressing the loss of pensions to the veterans that were injured post 2006. In direct response to these and many more topics related to veterans and their care many veteran advocate groups have sprung up. Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE), True Patriot Love (TPL) (both of which I am proud to have been connected to and received support from in an incredibly significant way) but there is also Wounded Warriors, Veterans Transition Network, and many, many smaller start ups like the Not for Profit Veterans House, that I am also involved with.

In fact the larger groups have been “attacked” or criticized for expenses, although the critics have at least so far been fair enough to admit the resulting benefit to the veterans is significant. The truth is the cost to provide services is very high, and most people have no concept as to the extent of that cost. I can attest however in my own testimony the impact these encounters have. Veterans House it’s self is the product of the POE Boot Camp program partially funded by TPL. Even my posts over the past several weeks were inspired by my participation on TPL’s Douglas Expedition just this year.  Operating with a clear mind and blogging may not measure up to the expense of The Douglas Expedition in some people’s minds, but in my mind following 25 years of recovery, it is gold.

The problem I see in the framework of the present model is, the competition for funding dollars and the many worthwhile beneficiaries competing for those dollars. I can’t help but think it’s time for the veteran communities to unite. Can you imagine one very large strong vocal message united in a vision of how veterans should be treated, funded, and served in their transition from military service (whether injured or not) into civilian life. There is a forum which runs annually, The Canadian Institute for Military and Veterans Health Research (CIMVHR) which now dominates how veteran’s health is researched, governed and implemented. Perhaps it’s time to open a new forum for veteran’s organizations? A forum that unites our voices and represents all the small and large organizations. Then, we the veterans can dominate how; we the veterans are involved in our own role of recovery and integration into civilian life. Just a thought, maybe you have a thought of your own?

 

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