Monday, September 21, 2015

Mulcair to Spend More Than Harper on Veterans.

My stomach churned a little bit when I saw the photo of Tommy with some old, bemedalled vets rolling out his platform of hundreds of millions more in funding for Canadian vets. That's when I knew those vets were mere props in Tommy's campaigning.

You don't offer money to disabled war vets. That's what Harper did. Mulcair is simply upping the ante.

Money is something you provide, not something you calculate for maximum political benefit. Money is whatever these vets need as the decades pass. As I've written before, my first six decades were spent living with a horribly wounded WWII vet, my Dad. He was a magnificent athlete before he boarded that troop ship in Halifax. It wasn't the same man who came back.

Still and all, my Dad did well after a few years finally getting re-established. This ex-foundary hand found an executive spot, first in chemicals, later in specialty steels. He made a lot of money and he paid a lot of taxes.  My older brother was the first in either family to attend and graduate from university. All three of his sons would wind up with bachelors' and professional degrees.

Dad did well by his country. He made good money and he never balked at paying equally good taxes. It was my Dad who made me understand that taxes were not a universal obligation, that the most advantaged got the most advantages and it was fair that they pay higher taxes.

Anyway, he was a great citizen; a real, no matter how ordinary, a real Canadian. He thought of the wrecked body he brought home and his friends who remain over there, underground, as an investment in the country. He had to find some way to rationalize his nightmares. He grew a belief in this country that he'd never have had tripping a steam hammer in the forge.

As he got older, his conditioned worsened - an immensely strong but equally old man who has to relent. Mom was dead and he was living alone, his closest son a hundred miles or so distant.

Dad's last few years of life were tough on him physically. Three times I spent several days with daily briefings from his doctor at the time about how, surely, he must be dying. "Prepare yourself. Make your travel arrangements. He'll probably never see you again."

Twice they were wrong. Dad staged what they found to be unbelievable recoveries and they decried the slightest ability to account for it medically. The third time was when, a few days before, he stopped eating anything, even refusing water.

Then he was gone.

I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that he would not have had that last ten to fifteen years without the incredible support of what he always pronounced the "D-V-A." I know what, in his heart, he meant. I dealt with these people on his behalf as he became enfeebled.

I can also say that, without the support of these people and successive governments, my Dad and Mom would not have been able to so enjoy their last 20-years together.  After so many bad years, all the loss and sacrifice, they were rewarded at the end. How did that happen.

Decent governments didn't talk money, except for budgeting, as obviously they weren't limited to some funding regime. If my Dad needed it, it was his. If he deserved it, maybe even just a bit more was his.  Seriously, they were about as committed a bunch of people as I've ever encountered. They even had a woman come in twice a week to give him a proper bath. When I needed their help on his behalf they never shirked. They talked me though everything for what I wanted to do and even what I needed to do afterward. The focus was never on cost or resources so much as it was on preserving the individual's dignity.

What's wrong with a fixed term compensation system.

Plenty. It's actuarially corrupt. It refuses to see that, as a wounded vet gets older, his wounds may treat him differently, even worsen catastrophically. It's nothing for wounds you sustained before 1945 to come back to claim your life 70-years later.

When government's approach is to impose a contractual, "take it or leave it - only we can force you to take it" approach, it's an affront to basic, human decency. I have only to imagine my own father, at the ridiculous age of 92, falling to the brutality of Harper's plan.

Mulcair says he'll pump $400+ million more into veterans spending. That's a political game and shame on any politician who emulates Harper.

Veterans spending? You spend what it takes. If that's more than you would prefer to spend, tough.  You send these kids into harm's way to be killed or mutilated on our behalf, then it becomes our obligation to ensure you don't dishonour us and, far worse, them.

You pay what it costs. You spend what it takes. You can't begin to compensate them for what they've done, what they've lost and yet most of them would do it again tomorrow if only they could somehow be made whole again. You can rarely provide value for what they have sacrificed. They're not looking at it that way. Why are you?

You pay - every last dime - of what is needed in funding. You don't defend this generosity and kindness for none is required. You sure as hell don't boast of it or exploit it in politicking.

In my Dad's six decades as "Dead Eye"  I saw how government's concern about the welfare of our wounded and the dead's dependents was directly proportional to the public's awareness of them.  Oh, by both Odin and Freya, trust me - when you're out of mind, you are in trouble.

The worst I ever saw was when legitimate claimants, who might have spent a decade or up to three, psychologically never fit to return to civilian life, were leaving the alleys to find a way back and getting swept aside.

You don't ask, you just pay. You get these people and you bring them in and you give them the best possible chance they might ever have to find their way back to all of us. The devil take us if we say we don't want to pay it and would choose instead to burn that bridge.

There is no budget for this. Anyone who prescribes any number is a charlatan.


Scotian said...

This is not aimed at the partisan political shot here but everything else:

I could not agree more! I was raised around vets from WWI and WWII as well, not as a parent, mine were born at the beginning of WWII, but both my grandfathers were doctors in that war, as well as many other relatives of that generation, and I saw the scars such service wrought as well as the profound faith in our nation and society, which is where much of what has driven me over the last decade to oppose Harper in such intensity came from. For those that know their military history of this nation this should help underscore part of this...the relative I was always the closest to for my first three and a bit decades of life was someone with the security clearances and the need to know always when our convoys left Halifax Harbour before their departure, among other equally important things, like whenever Churchill came trough here to meet in secret with the PM. One of the reasons I have been so profoundly angered by the various dishonours the Harper government has brought to us connected to the military (handing over prisoners to torturers being one of them) as well as vets is because of this relationship and others within my family. I would have done my own service had I not torn my knee apart less than two months after I came of age making me medically unfit, much to my frustration after several years a cadet.

So I take a lot of this more seriously than merely which team I am favouring or not, and the story you tell Mound I have heard/seen with my own eyes in my life many times. What we have become on this issue as of late sickens as well as infuriates me beyond words. Those that suffer hard in our uniform deserve all the care they need to have a dignified life once out of it where such service has limited their abilities to do so for themselves, not the most expensive or catered to life, but dignified. Anyone that does not grasp why that is so important, well either you get it or you don't.

Anonymous said...

Anyong said: Simply said... Where are the Seniors in all of this? Any consideration at all? Nope.