Sunday April 20, 2014

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Lest we forget

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As our thoughts and prayers turn to remembrance in the coming days, we all need to stop, pause and reflect on those we have lost and those who continue to be in harmís way to ensure our freedom.

Nothing could be more important than our veterans and making sure they are honoured for their sacrifice. But is enough being done for our older veterans and new ones recently returned from overseas conflicts?

The answer appears to be no.

This week, a B.C. solider from Port Moody was among a group of Afghanistan war vets who filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government seeking better lump-sum disability payments.

The vets are contending that under the new Veterans Charter, which came into law in 2006, funds are not paid out over a lifetime period, rather as one lump sum. In the case of Kevin Berry, the Port Moody vet, heís been given $87,000 ó his compensation for life. Under the old rules, he would have been eligible for $625,000 by age 79. He suffered permanent injuries to his knees and continued serving while hurt. He also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

What he is seeking is not unreasonable. All he wants to see is the soldiers of today get the same compensation as those who served in the past in the Second World War and Korean War. And this is a fight that Berry and others like him should not be fighting. Havenít he and others fought enough? Isnít the fact that they put their lives on the line and sacrificed themselves for our freedom enough?

But it gets worse. This week the Royal Canadian Legion also sent out a news release to Canadian media outlets saying that Canadian funeral directors are obliged to cover the costs of funerals for Canadaís most impoverished war veterans. Is this not another example of how the federal government is showing a clear lack of recognition for the sacrifice that veterans have made?

In 2010, the Royal Canadian Legion passed a resolution calling on the minister of Veterans Affairs Canada to take any and all necessary action to increase the veteransí funeral and burial program services allowable from $3,600 to an equivalent level already established of $12,700 for the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.†To our knowledge, the federal government has not made any movement whatsoever on this resolution.

So why is our government treating our veterans this way? Veterans who are willing to give up their lives for this country should be honoured, respected and taken care of. They should not be fighting for more compensation to live their lives in some peace and comfort or fighting to have a proper burial.

Lest we forget, indeed.

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