Monday, November 11, 2013

[RANT] Remembrance Day has new face.

Thank you for your service.
Today, if you turn on the news channel, or look at the front page of a paper, you will likely see the by-now familiar image of grizzled WWII or Korean War veteran, in a dress uniform, possibly a wheelchair, with a single blood-red poppy accenting their medals and insignias.  These old soldiers did their part.  We appreciate them for it.  They remind us that our freedom, our culture, our very way of life, is a debt we owe to those who have fought and sacrificed for us.

This Remembrance Day, and those after it, needs a new image, however.

Bruce Moncur
Meet Corporal Bruce Moncur.  During Canadian operations in Afghanistan, Moncur was involved in a "friendly fire" incident involving an A-10.  One minute, Moncur was sitting down, eating his breakfast, the next minute he was laying on the ground with the grey matter of his brain exposed thanks to a piece of depleted uranium the size of a bottle cap.

Thankfully, Bruce Moncur survived this incident, and is now making a slow recovery.  5% of his brain has been damaged, and he suffers from short-term memory loss and PTSD.

A Canadian soldier, risking his life, gets wounded in a combat zone.  Canada owes Moncur a great debt, no doubt about it.  According to the New Veterans Charter, that debt is a mere $22,000.  No pension, no long-term payments.  Just a lump sum of $22,000.  If Moncur had lost a limb, the payout would have been greater, but, for some reason, getting shot in the head with a 30mm depleted uranium bullet is classified under the same category of "headaches".

This is all kinds of wrong.

Bruce Moncur is a hero, no doubt, but he is also a victim, one of many.  A victim of a convoluted bureaucracy that puts more value on bottom-line budgets then the people who need help.  He is a victim of a political system that encourages politicians to brag about supporting our troops, but only gives lip-service to those who actually serve.

Military service should not be entered into lightly.  Those who serve should do so knowing, that if they get called into battle, that battle ends when they return home.  They should not have to fight a faceless bureaucracy for hard-earned benefits.  They should not come home only to fight an entirely new battle.

What makes this all the more upsetting is that Canadian troops are being booted from the military just shy of their 10 year mark.  The ten year mark is when a member of the Canadian Armed Forces qualifies for a full pension.

Why are these soldiers getting the boot?  A loophole allows for a medical discharge if that member is no longer capable of being deployed into a combat zone.  Nevermind the fact that these troops are incapable of deploying to a combat zone due to injuries they sustained in a combat zone.

Rick Mercer puts it succinctly:



Troops that serve are not some disposable commodity.  They can't be thrust into service and then discarded when they of no more use.  These are real people.  They serve their country some sacrifice their lives, while others sacrifice their physical and mental health.  

If you meet a veteran, of any war, thank them.  Do more than that, however, fight for them.  Offer them your support.  Write your MP.  Speak out.  Supporting our men and women in uniform requires more than wearing a plastic poppy and keeping our mouths shut on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.  Don't be quiet.  Speak out.

Lest we forget.

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