Canada Day and Canada’s Veterans

Ottawa – June 27, 2013

On Monday, we will celebrate Canada’s 146th birthday!

Veterans will play an important part in festivities across the country, as they have done since the birth of our nation when many of Canada’s key figures were Veterans themselves or had family, friends, or neighbours who were Veterans of the War of 1812.

On Canada Day, from small towns to large cities, Veterans and their families will be honoured as an integral part of the day’s celebrations. They will march in Canada Day parades and participate in its celebrations; they will stand at attention at cenotaphs and plant Canadian flags on Veterans' graves. Moreover, in Newfoundland and Labrador, they will observe Memorial Day along with Canada Day to commemorate the province’s Veterans, especially the members of the Newfoundland Regiment who fought and died at Beaumont Hamel during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916.

Canadians have a long history of strongly supporting Veterans and their families. In survey after survey in recent years, they demonstrate their commitment and often their concern for how Veterans are being looked after. Many feel that modern-day Veterans face more challenges adapting to post-military life than Veterans from the past, and many are concerned about the support Veterans and their families receive for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Canada is a young country with a bright future because Veterans fought hard to preserve our way of life. Many made the ultimate sacrifice for a future they would never see. Our debt to them is one that we can never pay back, so we have to pay it forward. We can do that by keeping our memories alive of those lost on battlefields and in missions far away and at home, and by looking after today’s Veterans and their families as we, as a country, have promised to do.

This fall, with the parliamentary committee review of the New Veterans Charter, the Government of Canada has the opportunity to demonstrate to Veterans and their families, as well as to all Canadians, that the New Veterans Charter is indeed a “living” charter and that its improvement will remain an enduring priority. This is crucial to ensure that we, as a country, continue to give rightly what is owed to our Veterans. It is also time to address the shortcomings in the Charter’s programs, benefits and services and initiate a periodic review process to assess regularly the evolving needs of Veterans and their families.

We owe our Veterans no less.

Guy

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