Kenneth Young is an articulate and persistent advocate for the rights of disabled veterans and their families. Today, Kenneth drafted profound commentary on the current lack of debate at the public and national level as to how veterans and their families are being (mis)treated (see below).
I am honoured that a single line of my article posted on VeteransofCanada.ca and VeteranVoice.info inspired Kenneth to write his highly appropriate and pointed commentary.
VeteransofCanada.ca June-July 2011 Newletter
I believe that Mr. Young’s commentary also points out how debate has been suffocated by employing the highly false accusation that open debate somehow smears the memory of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
However, debate and remembrance are two completely different issues. Indeed, we all would likely wish to believe that debate is guaranteed in Canada because more than 100,000 men and women have sacrificed so much protecting the sacred right of freedom of expression as well as other fundamental rights.
As such, it is reprehensible that each and every day the living must endure the painful burden of their sacrifice being muzzled by government supported by a select few leaders of some very prominent veterans organizations. Government and these few leaders have bullied disabled veterans and families into silence. They justify preventing debate by accusing those disabled as well as healthy veterans wishing public discussion about their living destiny that such debate somehow smears and disrespects the dead.
The truth is that muzzling debate disrespects all for which the dead gave their lives.
This is, how Mr. Young adeptly points out, priorities have been so distorted as to allow those few to benefit from ignoring the suffering of so many.
Certainly remembrance of the ultimate sacrifice is a necessary touchstone for any society. However, just as important and completely separate is the indisputable need to honour and care for those who survived. Except the latter also necessitates active and consistent attention whereas remembrance of the traditional kind has been ignobly sentenced to one day per year.
Care of the living requires remembrance each and every day of the year. That requires open discussion and debate directly involving those who require living care. Anything less than direct participation of the living in deciding their own destiny is a clear statement that such a society preventing debate no longer deserves to have others sacrifice on their behalf.
As Kenneth Young writes…”Oh! Canada…what happened to you?”
thank you Kenneth.
(Commentary from Kenneth Young)
Dear Editors, Veterans and MP’s,
I have been trying to find the words on this subject for some time now. It is a subject which even I tend to get emotional and upset about and I often find myself on Remembrance Day wishing that more such presentations could take place, even though I feel that the money could and should be better spent and that most times it is more designed as photo opportunities for Politicians rather then anything else. One sentence written by Sean Bruyea in a recent article, “How to Make Positive Change for Serving and Retired CF, RCMP and Their Families?” gave me the words which I was looking for, “Memorials, ceremonies and vigils have their place but they do not carry a message of much-needed change. They instead carry a message of continuing status quo; as long as participants remember, we need not change anything.”
I doubt that there is a single soldier, police or Veteran who today would say that they joined the military or police to preserve the rights and ceremonies, wreath’s, headstones, monuments let alone the opportunity of a great photo for any MP. I doubt that even one could be found who would be willing to die so that some flowers could be placed on a piece of stone and even fewer who would be willing to be blown up by an IED so that a MP has a great photo shot with the Military or Police as the backdrop. Many of them would tell you out right that they joined to protect Canada, our government, our ideals and our way of life.
So if both Veterans and police joined the units in their chosen careers to protect to serve the people, why is it that Ottawa in our names spend millions to glorify and remember the fallen, while there still remains homeless, hungry, undiagnosed and medically untreated Veterans living on our streets in Canada? Why is it that politicians all seem to be able to find a camera on Remembrance Day, yet most can’t be found when a Veteran has questions? Why do they all have speeches galore on November 11th., ( in fact it is often hard to shut them up) but have twice now refused to even debate the pros and cons of the lump-sum pay-outs within the, “New Veterans Charter (NVC),” once when it was introduced and once again when it was amended by Bill C-55?
Something is wrong here. Remembering the military who died so that everybody can go to bed comfortable and cozy, while we allow many of the people who are still living and helped to gave us these rights to go hungry, homeless and without medical care, clawing back every cent possible and now because of the NVC they are left without pensions. But I think that worst of all or at least what bothers me the most is that nobody seems to care except a few Veterans Advocates, a very few MP’s, some veterans who bothered to learn the truth, and precious few civilians.
I may be wrong but I would like to believe that if I was one of the soldiers buried in Flanders Field, I would today be turning in my grave because everything I fought and died for is gone. The fat cats get fatter the poor get even more poor and the people who fought for our rights and freedoms go uncared for and ignored.
Oh! Canada…. what happened to you?
Kenneth H. Young CD
Canadian Veterans Advocacy
Agent Orange Association of Canada