How about remembering our veterans with support, not just words?

Today's letters: How about remembering our veterans with support, not just words?

As published in the Ottawa Citizen: Nov 10, 2021

Every November, Canadians honour those who have served in the military, especially the dead and wounded. Unfortunately, war is a permanent feature of human existence.

Poppies remind me that wars are fought by working people who are often discarded when their courage is no longer required. While every combat veteran is a hero, the same cannot be said for those who send them to war and arms manufacturers who profit from military strife.

Under the warrior’s code, soldiers have little choice regarding even the most dubious deployments. Rather than protest or refuse orders, the majority accept the risk of injury, death and the ugliness of killing. In the horror of battle, soldiers willingly die for their peers.

A newspaper editor once remarked that we all have the choice to join the military or seek political office. This statement assumes perfect equality of opportunity while ignoring the many socio-economic factors constraining career choices. It also suggests an uncomfortable question.

Why is military service so rare among Canada’s wealthy citizens and why is political success such a rarity among working people? Exceptions exist, but military service is often a means of establishing economic security or acquiring an education. Those born to wealth have little motive to risk their lives for socio-economic benefit.

Government statements about respect for veterans are meaningless in the context of rampant PTSD, suicide and homelessness. As well, Veterans Affairs Canada remains understaffed while case officers struggle to properly serve their clients. If the government can afford to increase the number of highly paid generals, it can certainly hire more VAC case managers and improve care for homeless veterans.