Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Veterans Need More Than Words

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Veterans Need More Than Words

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Veterans need more than words

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An editorial from the Waterloo Region Record, published Nov. 6:

Canadians are sometimes better at saluting their military veterans with words than deeds.

On Remembrance Day this Sunday, some of the nation's most eloquent orators will extol the members of our army, navy and air force, living and dead, for their extraordinary displays of personal valour and sacrifice. Crowds will stand grim-faced at cenotaphs, trumpets will wail the last post, wreathes will be laid and we will all congratulate ourselves our annual, if somewhat reflexive, act of remembering. Words, words and more words.

Yet all the time, and most likely well out of sight of all that pomp and circumstance, there will be ailing veterans with an urgent need that is being ignored. They have served their country, they are poor, but when they die the country won't even help pay for their funeral.

The Last Post Fund, which works on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada, proclaims its mission "is to ensure that no eligible veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial, as well as a military gravestone, due to insufficient funds at time of death."

Despite these words, new information suggests this national fund is not getting the job done. According to figures put before Parliament, more than two-thirds of the applications made to the Last Post Fund for help with funeral services have been rejected since 2006. There were 29,853 pleas for help from veterans in that time. But in 20,147 cases, the answer was no.

True, the high rejection rate, on its own, doesn't prove that the system is broken. But other facts do. First, only veterans with an annual income below $12,010 are eligible for financial aid. That threshold for defining financial need is impossibly low. The rules are making it too difficult for deserving individuals to receive help. …

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