Editorial

A sacred place
Editorial

A sacred place

It has been 20 years since an unknown soldier who died in the fighting at Vimy Ridge in France during the First World War was reinterred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. There are previous examples of other countries paying such tribute: Great Britain has the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Westminster Abbey in London; France has one beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris; the United States has theirs in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Canada’s began as a millennium project proposed by The Royal Canadian Legion. Once the federal government agreed to the plan first suggested in 1996, a massive effort got underway that included the departments of Veterans Affairs, Public Works and Government Services, Canadian Heritage, National Defence, the RCMP, the Canadian War Muse...
Weathering the storm
COVID-19, Editorial

Weathering the storm

"Within the Legion, I have witnessed and learned of countless heartfelt initiatives to help our veterans and communities weather this storm.” With those words, Tom Irvine, President of the Royal Canadian Legion, captured the essence of the generosity and camaraderie that runs through Canada’s military and veteran community, particularly in these troubled times. Branches across the country have been shuttered since mid-March, and many face dire financial strain without their income from functions and fundraising, their savings being depleted to pay bills. Some, already on the precipice due to declining memberships, likely won’t survive this blow. (Dominion Executive Council has created a $3-million support fund for struggling branches.) But that hasn’t kept members from doing good wor...
Cutting through the paperwork
Editorial

Cutting through the paperwork

Speaking to representatives of veterans’ groups in November, Veterans Ombudsman Craig Dalton admitted his office has had a low profile since his appointment in November 2018. That was partly his getting to know the job, but also because there was an election; he had to hold off until there was a new government in place. While he has a number of reports in draft stages, which will be released in the coming year, he spoke in general terms of the complexity of forms and paperwork veterans or their representatives have to sift through in order to get the veterans the benefits to which they are entitled. Veterans Affairs Canada serves thousands of older veterans under the Pension Act, while those who applied for benefits after 2006 are served under the New Veterans Charter, which has evolve...
Achievement…and lost potential
Editorial

Achievement…and lost potential

As Remembrance Day approaches and we recall and commemorate the sacrifices of those who died while serving, we should also be reminded that one of the costs of war is the loss of what those ill-fated men and women—more than 100,000 in the two world wars—could have accomplished if they had lived on in peacetime. The article “Last soldier standing” on page 18 profiles the last surviving veteran of each war in which Canada fought—from the War of 1812 to the First World War. One lived to the age of 100 and had a lengthy postwar career as an admiral. Another ran an oil business, got his pilot’s licence at 65 and high-school diploma at 95, and wrote his autobiography at 100. Thousands of Second World War and Korean War veterans live on. Many have had postwar lives that, one way or another, e...
Standards for service dogs are overdue
Editorial

Standards for service dogs are overdue

The use of service dogs to help veterans with mental-health issues is stalled with a lack of recognized standards for training both the dogs and the veterans who receive them. Originally the federal government had approached the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB)—an arm of Public Services and Procurement Canada—to develop standards for service dogs. After consulting widely with economic, regulatory, procurement, health, safety and environmental experts, the board released draft standards in a 60-page document for further consultation. This generated an estimated 1,000 pages of comments, many of which were negative. As a result, CGSB decided in April 2018 not to proceed further. Veterans Affairs Canada then suggested standards could be developed by the department. There already was...
Counting veterans
Editorial

Counting veterans

We know that some 7,000 Canadians served in the South African War, approximately 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders enlisted during the First World War, more than one million served in the Second World War, more than 26,000 served in the Korean War, and several hundred thousand have served in the Canadian Armed Forces since then. But knowing how many veterans Canada has today is critical to knowing whether “they’re asking for more than we are able to give right now,” as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau so inelegantly put it during a town hall meeting in February 2018. To be fair, he also said “I will continue to pledge that I will do right by you.” One way the federal government can do right by our veterans is to know how many there are. It has been almost a half century since the 19...

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