First of all, I really do love poppies and the poppy campaign is a phenomenal fundraising initiative by the Canadian Legion. I trust that the money is truly used to help veterans and families in need and I will continue to support it. My pet peeve is that I feel like people wear the poppy believing they are doing their part to show support and that their government is doing the rest to support veterans and their families. Where in fact, just earlier today I had an unpleasant phone call from my husband’s Veterans Affairs caseworker explaining why we have been denied coverage for something we had previously been approved for. In short, Canadians are told there are all kinds of services and programs available. They are promoted on the Veterans Affairs website, in publications and interviews. However, this does not mean that the majority of veterans or families actually have access to them. Basically, what is said to be available and what is actually available are two very different things. This is my real pet peeve and I am reminded of it when I see all our politicians wearing the poppy this time of year.
I am not just complaining about my situation or the stories I hear. The Veterans Affairs Ombudsman maintains an ongoing report card of the current issues (and there are many). Just to put that into perspective, Canadian tax dollars (well over 5 million per year) go to managing a team to watch over and investigate how another government office is doing their job (whose budget is over 4 billion this year). I can’t even express my frustration knowing the amount of time and money wasted on this convoluted and broken system of delaying and denying access.
I am sharing this because I believe that Canadians do care about our veterans and their families and they deserve to know the whole story. The truth is that thousands of vets are constantly fighting with the very office that was created to help them. Many also give up this fight because it becomes to depleting.
So perhaps when you wear the poppy this year, you can also think about the current situation and consider writing to the Prime Minister’s office, or the Minister of Veterans Affairs (or both!) and let them know you want our veterans and their families to be treated as all Canadians want to be treated; with respect and honesty.