Michael Major: Why we must support our Canadian veterans
We are the people who send representatives to Ottawa to decide on our behalf the direction this country’s policies will go. When our MPs vote to send our soldiers to fight, then their war becomes our war. When our soldiers walked off the back of that plane in Afghanistan how many of you could find it on a map? Did you know who the Taliban were? Did you know the Russians had fought there in the ’80s? Did you really understand why we were going there to fight? Like it or not, even if you did not even bother to vote, the wars our politicians get involved in are your wars.
Soldiers have a sacred contract with government. Soldiers volunteer to be the tip of the spear. They will bear the brunt and horrific acts of war on behalf of their Queen and country, including laying their lives down. All that our troops ask in return is that when they return broken that their country takes care of them.
We lost 158 of our best to Afghanistan—more were wounded and too many came home with broken minds. Posttraumatic stress disorder is destroying the lives of our troops and their families so much so that some of our soldiers believe the only way to stop the pain is to end their lives. Did any of you think about this when the first soldiers set foot on Afghan soil? What did you think would happen when they got home?
Being a veteran I had no delusions that no one would get hurt or that everyone would just come home and get on with life. I’m sure that most veterans and soldiers thought the same way I did. Soldiers know the risk; they signed up because they know they are the only ones who can stand between you and all the evil that lurks in the dark. Their job is to protect you with their bodies and their lives. Being a soldier is the only job where there is an expectation that you will be ordered to die and even training for war is a dangerous, sometimes-deadly affair.
War is an ugly, horrific, and destructive business. I’ve seen the scars it leaves behind as a peacekeeper in Bosnia. There truly are no winners—just survivors—and the unspeakable horror we tell our soldiers to endure in our name is burned into the minds of so many of our young men and women. They are the best of us, we told them to fight for us, and now it is our job to take care of them. Like it or not, we are all responsible for breaking them.
The problems with Veterans Affairs are not secret, the treatment of our veterans is very public, and the solution is so universally simple. Take care of our veterans today because tomorrow you may find there are not any soldiers to protect you. After all if the government breaks their end of our sacred soldiers contract why would anyone become a soldier?
Write your MP and tell them that they must listen to the people and the veterans, or come next election they will be unemployed. We are the power in this country. It will take half an hour of your time. Just write your MP. It is the very least you can do.