Canada’s auditor general, Michael Ferguson, found in his recent audit that “there are too many barriers to veterans getting mental-health services and benefits, including a complex application process and delays in getting their records from the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces.”
This comes right after a report that $1.1 billion in veteran services cash was hauled back unspent by Harper.
The recently announced $200 million over 50 years for mental health services for veterans is far too little and far too late.
My friend, Lyle Crispin, served for the Canadian Forces during the 1992 Yugoslavian civil war. He currently volunteers as a facilitator for a veterans group in Trail, B.C.
Lyle has seen first-hand the lasting physical and mental toll that war can take on our Canadian soldiers.
Many of the veterans that work with Lyle have received lump sum cash payments for the injuries they suffered during service.
A lump sum payment is the cheaper option for government, as it wipes away future obligations for ongoing support and care.
Lyle says: “I’ve seen it happen time and time again – the payout cash is gone within a year. Veterans find themselves without money, support or hope. I have seen too many veterans who view suicide as their only option.”
Lyle is particularly frustrated by the Conservative claw-back of $1.1 billion in money that was set aside for veterans, as the unmet need is significant.
On Remembrance Day last month, we honoured those who have served in our military here and abroad.
Those soldiers trusted each other to cover their backs. Those soldiers trusted their commanding officers to consider their safety in determining any action. Those soldiers trusted their government to deploy them wisely.
We Canadians must now be trustworthy in our response to their need. Let’s not look for the cheapest way, let’s look for the best way to support our veterans. They deserve it.
Federal Liberal Candidate
South Okanagan-West Kootenay