Archive | January 2016

How much is enough for vets?


This here’s a rant. Photo: Timothy Stark

Some of us are warriors. Some are not. I’m definitely not. We are who we are and that’s that. I can’t say I’m totally anti-war either because there are individuals among us who hunger too much for power, money or both, and are not concerned with how many people die as a result. Countries need to be prepared, plus o ur military also helps during fires, storms, floods and other natural disasters. We owe them.

Our politicians involve us in wars far from home where we send our

canadian-soldier Afghanistan

Canadian Soldier in Afghanistan

sons and daughters to fight. If they survive, they come back. How we treat our veterans when they make it back says much about us.

Numerous Regional Veterans Affairs Offices were closed during the recent years the Conservatives were in power here, making it even more difficult than ever for needy veterans to get help. (Our new Liberal government has promised to reopen them. the sooner the better.)

Homeless in Canada

Homeless in Canada

Nobody knows for sure, but in some quarters they believe about 2,250 vets are homeless. Since figures are far from complete, that’s probably an underestimate. A more realistic figure is thought to be about 15,000 – 20,000. Some shelters guess about 2.7% of shelter users are vets, but most don’t ask. Analysts say vets don’t ordinarily use shelters anyway, they just go homeless. These men, who have served us and our country, are completely on their own to deal with PTSD, alcoholism, broken families, often made worse by mental disorders. How can we neglect them?

A friend who knows more than I do says 70% of injuries which were not treatable during the Vietnam War are now being successfully treated and are survivable. Advances in medicine make it possible to save lives, but then turning veterans, no matter how severely damaged, out to fend for themselves when they so desperately need our help is unacceptable.

Throughout history there have been disabled warriors unable to maintain themselves. This is nothing new, but how we deal with the problem will go down in history and tell future generations what we are made of.


Louis XIV of France, 1638-1715

Back in 1659, French King Louis XIV decided to build ‘Les Invalides’ for the care of the severely wounded and the lodging of old soldiers. (Louis wasn’t known as the Sun King for nothing.) His edict, dated Feb 24, 1670, in part says ‘to construct a royal building of sufficient size and space to receive and lodge all officers and men who are crippled or old and frail and to guarantee sufficient funds for their subsistence and upkeep.’

Les Invalides-Paris

Les Invalides, Paris

This wasn’t a brand new idea either. Other monarchs before him wanted to do something like this — Henri III, Henri IV, and Louis XIII. The difference? He’s the guy who achieved it.

Construction began in 1670, was ready for the veterans to move into by 1674, and Louis XIV greeted the first new arrivals himself. (Just as Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcomed new Syrian refugees in person.)


Napoleon Bonaparte

It was Napoleon’s tomb which first drew me to “Les Invalides’.  That’s where it is and I wanted to see it. Nonetheless, the tomb’s location has created a degree of dissension among French thinkers ever since it was placed there. The arguments continue….

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one wanting to see Napoleon’s

Adolf Hitler, 1889-l945

Hitler, 1889-1945

tomb. Hitler, a great fan, visited it on June 23, 1940. What, I wonder, was he thinking as he stood in silence before the impressive tomb of a man he so admired? Was he hoping he could, like Napoleon, crown himself emperor of all of Europe one day? Did he see his own tomb sitting in that place of honor in the future? In a gesture of respect, Hitler arranged for Napoleon’s son’s ashes to be returned to France and placed near his father’s. (Napoleon II died of tuberculosis at the age of 21.)

Those who fought and died during World War II gave their blood, limbs and lives to save us from Hitler. Those who fight for us today, likewise, deserve respect, care and the help they need. According to statistics from our Canadian defence department, suicide claims more soldiers than those killed in Afgan combat. (Toronto Star, September 16, 2014.)

No matter what country you live in, this is not okay. Write your politicians. Make some noise about the issue.



Hey, take care of yourself out there

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

Hey everyone, I’ve already declared to anyone who will listen that I’ve ‘ordered’ a good year for all of us. Would the gods dare contradict me? Do help it happen — take care of yourself in 2016 because if you read this blog, I care about you.

Do I know anything about taking care of oneself? Not really, but there are others who do, so here’s some of what I’ve read. For even better ideas, see your own doctor, have regular check-ups and take your medications regularly.

When did you last visit your doctor?

When did you last see your doctor?

They suggest you grab your dog, a pal, or your sweetie (okay, even someone else’s sweetie??) and get out there. Moderate exercise, like steady walking for about 30 minutes is said to be enough if you do it regularly five times a week. While you are on the go, you can tell off-color jokes, discuss brilliant ideas, and gossip about the nasty neighbors.

guys talking

guys need friends too

It is said women communicate more easily, but you fellows need companionship too. A friend to talk to is a good thing. If there isn’t one around, reach out and find somebody — you deserve it. The more satisfied you are with your life, the better.

Maintaining a decent weight has been a lifelong battle of mine, so I know

fat guy on scale

Oh, oh!

it ain’t easy. Nutritionists suggest we adopt healthy eating habits we can live with for life and avoid crash diets — easy for them to say. The Arthritis Society says the loss of only one pound is equal to about three/four pounds less stress on knee joints. Think about that. Lose five pounds and your knees consider it to be 15/20! Not bad….

take a walk with your friends

Take a walk with some friends

If your doctor says you should lower your cholesterol, take his/her advice and do what you can to help things go in the right direction. Eat well and have fruits and vegetables every day — they’re good for you. And, should you, heaven forbid, be one of those few still smoking, this is a good time to quit. It’s a New Year. Breathing is important and smoking is a killer.

two a day is it

two each day

Now, not to ruin your fun altogether, but with alcohol, as with many things, moderation is the key. Apparently, if you keep it to two beers, or cocktails, or glasses of wine each day, that’s okay. (I didn’t make this up. It’s in the book.) Oh, and it means two in TOTAL per day, not two of each. Sorry about that. Besides, if you’re reading this, you matter a lot to me, so please don’t drink and drive.

However, all of this effort is wasted if you drive recklessly and don’t bother using your seat belt. Do mind the speed limit and buckle up.Too many drivers are still using cellphones in spite of all the accidents caused by this dangerous practice. But, you wouldn’t do that, would you? Am I beginning to sound like an old fuddy-duddy? Well, that’s what I am!

You don’t drive? Well, pedestrians concentrating on cellphones are in danger as well. Be safe, put it away. And, when you walk after dark, please avoid wearing black, it makes you hardly visible to drivers. (Nag, nag, nag…)

Surely, you get the general idea, don’t you? I want you to be safe and well this year.