That we need to support and care for Canadian Armed Forces veterans is usually a message that comes a little later in the fall – around Remembrance Day.
But right now, up to 210 Canadian soldiers are on the ground in Iraq, near Mosul, working with Kurdish fighters to help re-take the city from ISIS.
It’s an odd war, one Canada sidled into, with very little public debate.
In the near term, that’s something that should be remedied. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government needs to show they have a long-term plan for Canadian military involvement in the Middle East. What are our goals, our means, and how do we extract ourself from a situation that has turned into sucking quicksand for so many armies before?
But in the immediate term, we need to realize that we’re creating a new batch of combat veterans, to add to the vets who have come back from Afghanistan and peacekeeping operations over the past few decades, from the Balkans and Rwanda, and points beyond.
Some of them will see horrible things. ISIS is determined to see how uncivilized they can be, in the cradle of civilization.
They practise slavery, suicide bombing, and genocide. There are already reports they are attempting to use the remaining civilians in Mosul as human shields.
Some of the returning veterans will need help, some for quite some time. The time to begin planning for their return is now.
Veterans, like our domestic emergency responders, put more than their lives on the line. They put their future health, mental and physical well-being, at risk.
Before the last federal election, veterans issues were key. The current government will soon have to show it can live up to its promises.