Remembrance Day 2012: An Open Letter to Canadians from the Veterans Ombudsman
Ottawa – November 9, 2012
We come together during Veterans’ Week to pay tribute to those who have lost their life in service to our country. We recognize the more than 750,000 Veterans in Canada who have served our country honourably – as part of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP – both here and abroad, in times of peace and times of conflict. And we acknowledge the men and women who continue to serve today.
As the Veterans Ombudsman and a Canadian Veteran, I want you to know how significant and meaningful your act of remembrance is to Veterans and serving members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP. For many Veterans and their families, Veterans’ Week, and particularly Remembrance Day, brings to the fore painful memories; your expression of gratitude is a source of pride and great comfort to them. It is an acknowledgement of their personal sacrifice, resilience and strength.
On Sunday, Canadians will pause in silence to remember the Fallen. We owe an eternal debt of gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We pay tribute to them through our collective moment of silence every November 11, but we live every day in the peace and security for which they fought.
While the majority of men and women leave the service healthy, too many return carrying physical, mental and emotional reminders of their service to our country. As a nation, we owe them and their families the assurance that they will be properly cared for upon their return. Ensuring that their needs are met is our country’s most meaningful expression of gratitude.
Come November 12th, our Veterans will put away the uniforms and medals that symbolize their service, but be assured that their loyalty and commitment to Canada remains strong. Across the nation, Veterans better their communities with their skills and leadership, as volunteers, coaches, teachers, entrepreneurs, public servants, etc. There is not one community in Canada that is not stronger and more enriched in spirit because of the ongoing commitment on the part of its Veterans.
A Veteran’s contribution to our country never ceases. And neither should Canadians’ gratitude to our Veterans. I encourage Canadians to acknowledge the service of the Veterans in your communities, each and every day.
Lest we forget.
Guy Parent Veterans Ombudsman
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Beautiful words and the sentiment is appreciated and I believe that you truly mean them just as so many of us do.
This Sunday, I along with many other Veterans in my community will be attending my local Remembrance Day ceremony. I will be there remembering my close friends and colleagues whom I was privileged to serve with and are no longer with us. I will remember those whom I served with who are living day to day with the scars of their service. I will also be remembering those in my family of which there are many, who stood up to be counted when needed during war and peacetime and some who were badly injured and some who didn't come home. I will also remember my Dad and those other fathers of Cdn Vets who emigrated to this country after the wars, who served in their armed forces and then ensured that their sons/daughters served in our forces to ensure that wars such as those are never fought again.
Unfortunately I will be on the sidelines as my own service disabilities will not allow me to parade anymore. I will watch as my compatriots display the colours and march in remembrance and remember the days when I could proudly participate in the march past.
I will also be thinking of all the Veterans who are still with us but suffering daily because of their service related conditions but getting no pensions/medical coverage from a Department who will not expedite nor even approve applications in a timely manner, let alone the ones they disallow consistently.
I would love to see a day when November 11th and Veteran's Week really means something, and is a time where we know that there are no longer impediments to Veteran's being treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Unfortunately, that day is probably decades in the future if ever.
I know on November 12th, I will once again be advocating for changes to a totally busted system. I will be talking with as many of my neighbours and fellow Canadians near and far in regards to how our Veterans are treated by DVA. I will let them know that unlike what they see in the media, all is not well with DVA and how it treats our Veterans. I will also let them know how dismally our Government treats those of whom they demand the most and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice yet will not take care of them.
We need reform, we need it badly. 1 week or 1 day a year is not sufficient for our Veterans nor for their families - many of whom are almost destitute or living on the very edge of poverty due to their service related disabilities. I know, my family suffered for 20 years and these things have not gone away yet.
Each year I make the very same resolution - to help at least 1 or 2 Veteran's and their families in their fight with DVA. This year will be no exception. I would humbly ask that for every Veteran who has been successful that you open your arms to a fellow Veteran who has not been successful and assist them in their fight.
Guy, you are right when you say "A Veterans contribution to our country never ceases. And neither should Canadians gratitude to our Veterans. I encourage Canadians to acknowledge the service of the Veterans in your communities, each and every day.", we need to make sure that our Veteran's who are still fighting are not forgotten and get the help they need from every Canadian.