How much is enough for vets?

Muriel-6

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

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

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.

 

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5 thoughts on “How much is enough for vets?

  1. This is a huge problem here in the States, as well. It is very difficult for vets to get real help, but another part of the problem is that many vets refuse to seek what help they can get or even admit that they have issues. I guess they don’t see admitting to having PTSD as “manly” or whatever. A good friend of mine’s husband is a Vietnam war vet. Definitely has PTSD, depression, anger issues, you name it. Absolutely refuses to go the V.A. and talk to anyone about anything, or to admit that his war experiences might be part of why he feels so bad and has the various problems he does. Fortunately, he is not homeless, but still, he is a victim of the war, the system, and his own reluctance to get help. Very sad, any way you look at it.

    • Muriel, You said you were not a Warrior,I disagree but in a different way from the Vets. with what you have been through and starting and running BADD for many years.
      I also agree with you about the Vets.

  2. I agree, Muriel. I’m glad the press is giving both PTSD, and support in general for Vets, the attention it deserves. Veteran Affairs is acting kind of weird about it. Its probably hard for vets to admit they “couldn’t hack it”. I think its in too much of our male culture (and our culture in general), and is probably there in a more extreme way in the armed forces.
    I guess none of us are that comfortable with the reality of our vulnerability: illness and mortality and the vulnerability of life itself. In a “doing” culture, we are uncomfortable with the “non-doing” aspects of life.

  3. Elizabeth said she would read your article on ‘How much is enough for vets’ because she takes our cat often and sometimes thinks the vets overcharge her.
    So she only read a sentence or two – but I read it all and was interested to learn that it seems to be pretty much the same in Canada and the US as in UK despite government promises. I’m almost a pacifist but I read that by and large the junior ranks of the military (not the high-ups) get a raw deal when they leave the forces, and I think they should be looked after wello. I agree we need them, and they did a great job in Africa during the Ebola epidemic and during the civil war in Sierra Leone (let’s not talk about Iraq or Afghanistan).
    By the way, ex military personnel are sometimes called ‘vets’ in the UK now, but don’t tell Elizabeth!!

  4. Muriel,you wrote a a very moving and heartfelt blog. We have a similar problem in the US. Vets have to wait months for appointments and receive less than the best care. We replaced the director of vet services and the new guy hasn’t really improved things and I think he should be removed too. I am actually surprised that vets in Canada have a similar problem. Vets need to be treated with dignity. Love, Brian

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