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Letter to the Editor: Conservatives letting our veterans down

Jim Karygiannis, MP, Liberal Party Veterans Affairs Critic

Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P.

Dear Editor,

Imagine you are a Canadian soldier who has been disabled in the line of duty – what kind of support do you think you’d get as you transition to civilian life under this supposedly military-friendly Conservative Government?

Odds are you are in for a lot of headaches.

Under the Conservatives’ New Veterans Charter, you will get a lump sum payment instead of a disability pension. Many—including Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman—say that this sum is inadequate for the pain and suffering you’ve endured. A group of injured veterans is suing the Conservative Government because they say the money they have received is paltry and doesn’t even keep up with Workers’ Compensation awards.

When you try to access government services for help, you’ll find a system that the Auditor General says is overly complex and hard to use. You’ll have a one-in-four chance of being released from the Canadian Forces without a support plan because the Department can’t even meet its own service standards.

If you don’t live in a major city, you’ll have to drive for hours if you need a meeting with a Veterans Affairs official because the Government is closing 9 Veterans Affairs’ offices, including Kelowna. The office in Prince George, B.C. has already been shut down.

If the Department makes a mistake, you’ll have a tough time getting it fixed. The Veterans Ombudsman found that in cases that ended up in Federal Court, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board had failed to make fair decisions 60% of the time.

The state of the system is shocking. As one Veteran told me recently:

“Many believed that their government would look after them, but obviously we were wrong. The battles that we have at home hurt more than those that were fought in other parts of the world…”

The Conservative Government puts more time and energy into using veterans for photo-ops than it does in meeting their needs. That’s wrong. Our veterans put their lives on the line for our country.  We owe it to our veterans to do everything we can to help them recover, re-integrate into civilian life and live with dignity and respect.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Karygiannis, MP Liberal Party Veterans Affairs Critic

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