There is a tragic article in the news feeds this morning regarding the plight of many of our modern era veterans. Homelessness, usually brought about by alcohol and drug addiction has attacked many veterans.

There has been a ground swell of veterans supporting veterans like the Veterans Emergency Transition Services Network in Halifax

York University's Stephen Gaetz, director of the Canadian Homelessness Research Network says that "It's absolutely wonderful that the vets are looking after their own. But at the end of the day, we need a different way of dealing with homelessness that would ensure that the second you touch the sector, all of a sudden you're plugged in to the services and supports you need in a seamless way,"

Michael Blais of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy speaks out on the cuts to Veterans Affairs Canada's budget:

He explains the cuts to veterans pensions and what the fall out is and will be.

In a Montreal Gazette article on this topic, the Legion has decided to take on a more forceful role as a veteran's advocacy group.

The article explains that the Legion had decided to support the New Veteran's Charter which has had the effect of modern veterans looking at the Legion as an ally of the government instead of being and advocate for their issues.

Being Quote:
In theory, at least, the Legion — Canada’s largest veterans’ organization — has the muscle to have an impact. With more than 340,000 members, “you have a bit of a voice,” White acknowledges. “And we want to use that voice to better the veterans.”

The problem is many modern veterans don’t consider the Legion an effective advocate, says Mike Blais, founder and president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, which organized Saturday’s protests by veterans on Parliament Hill and across the country. The goal of the year-old group is to improve the quality of life of Canadian veterans.

“There’s a perception out there that the Legion’s not for the modern veteran, that it traditionally focused on World War Two and Korea,” says Blais.

Much of the disillusionment stems from Legion’s qualified support for the New Veterans Charter, implemented in 2006 by Paul Martin’s Liberals.

The charter is deeply unpopular with many modern veterans, who rail against its shift to lump-sum payments for injuries instead of the tax-free disability pensions older veterans receive.

“There’s no debate on whether the New Veterans Charter is better than the Pension Act, because it’s not,” Blais says firmly.

The Legion was one of a number of stakeholders that advised the government before the New Veterans Charter was adopted. And since then, it has served on an advisory group. For some, that makes it an ally of government, not an advocate.

White says the Legion knew the charter was imperfect, but gave it qualified approval because the government promised it would be a “living charter,” with ongoing updates. Instead, there were no changes until this past spring, when Parliament finally made a few improvements. “It was like it was cast in concrete,” White complains.
End Quote
As the debates back and forth continue, our modern veterans are returning home, many will be reduced to a lump sum payment for their injuries instead of a pension that will assist them as they advance in years.

This Remembrance Day we need to remember that ALL veterans deserve our support, our thanks and our HELP. Not just lip service - we need to make their plight a NATIONAL issue and we the Canadian Taxpayers need to get behind our troops who will be the next vets affected by this New Veterans Charter.

These people left their homes, their families and put their lives on hold for this country with many of them putting their lives on the line. As Canadian citizens who enjoy a relative freedom and peace it behooves us to get behind our troops and our veterans now - otherwise, when the next conflict arises we may not have very many men and women signing up for the role of protector. Our country and it's freedoms could be put at risk. If we are willing to ask them to fight for us in conflicts around the world, then shouldn't we be fighting to protect our freedoms and rights here? Should we not be advocating for our veterans to receive a decent pension?

In an era where the Harper government wants to get tough on crime by building new prisons etc, should we not be demanding that before we build more prisons - we need to be building safety nets for our vets, not reducing the Veteran's Affair Budget?

Perhaps our politicians should be asked to give up their life long pensions - no ask isn't the right word - we the Canadian Tax Payer should be demanding that the monies needed to secure a future for our veterans come out of the pockets of the politicians. While many a politician sees what they do as being of service to our country, I feel that what they are doing in many cases is lining their own pockets, their own futures on the back of every Canadian and more importantly on the back of every veteran. Why do I say that? Well - according to Discovery Finance from May 7, 2011- we taxpayers are on the hook for 4.9 million dollars in pension payments and 4.3 million dollars in severance for the 113 MP's who were defeated or didn't run in the last election. And yet the VAC budget is being cut by $226 million dollars.

Where does any of this make sense?

According to an article in the Star dated May 4, 2011, Begin Quote: MPs qualify for a pension if they keep their seat for six years. They are also entitled to a lump-sum severance payment equivalent to 50 per cent of annual salary if they leave office before hitting age 55. Even those who don’t last six years in office are still eligible for the severance payment.

Forty-three Bloc MPs were shown the door Monday by Quebec voters, but they will get a good chunk of change to blunt the blow to their political egos. For those who have not been around for six years and do not qualify for a pension, they will get $78,866 just for showing up.

In the end, Bloc MPs who qualified for lifetime pensions will cost Canadian taxpayers roughly $38 million. End Quote
You serve six years in parliament, eat well, are treated well and you get a life time pension - you serve in Afghanistan, put your ass on the line every day, are injured and disabled and you get a lump sum pay out that will average $140K?

In my humble opinion, while it is wonderful to see many Canadians get out and support the repatriation services to say thanks, to support causes like Red Friday and others of a similar vein- we need to protect these people's pensions. If they are physically injured, if they come home with PTSD, they deserve to be looked after. Period - end of story...

This Remembrance day I want you to look around the cenotaph, I want you to see the men and women of this, the modern era, who have served this country in a different light - imagine Canada without them - what kind of country, what kind of world would we have if it weren't for them? Look at them and ask yourself - are they not worthy of being taken care of? After all, they took care of us.

I welcome your comments and opinions on this topic - talk to me - on Facebook, Twitter, here in this blog or in our forums - let's have some honest dialogue about our veterans and what their service to this country means.

There are many other stories in the news feeds today that may be of interest to you as a rider, take a few minutes to visit where we sift through the news so you don't have to.

Have a fantastic Monday,

Belt Drive Betty,
Editor & Rider

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