Gulf War vets want Nov. 11 recognition

Last Updated: Monday, November 11, 2002 | 8:16 AM ET

CBC News

 Some Canadians who served during the Persian Gulf War say they’re bitter that another Remembrance Day will pass without Ottawa including them in official ceremonies.

Many of the former soldiers are also waiting for financial help as they cope with various conditions – from multiple sclerosis to post-traumatic stress disorder.

They believe exposure to toxins in the conflict more than a decade ago made them sick.

But Ottawa doesn’t think the illnesses are related to past military service, so the ex-soldiers say they’re denied basic medical coverage and financial compensation granted to other war vets.

The physical pain is accompanied by anger, and, on Nov. 11, by deep heartache. The men and women say they’re not invited to join in parades or to have any official role at cenotaph services.

“I feel cheated,” said Louis Lamarre. “I feel betrayed by my government, because they turned their backs on us.”

“I was willing to die for my country, and the least that I ask for is that we be recognized for that sacrifice,” said Sean Bruyea.

Veterans Affairs Minister Rey Pagtakhan said he thought the Gulf War veterans’ concerns had been addressed. Pagtakhan recently said he would be willing to meet with them again.

In Ottawa, some Gulf War vets have decided to go to the national Remembrance Day ceremony and lay a wreath on their own. According to official protocol, however, they’ll have to wait until the ceremony ends before stepping forward.
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