Monday, June 30, 2008
GUEST POST: Matt Bin on "The Inconvenient Troops."
CC HQ cub reporter Matt Bin checks in with some thoughts.
A new report shows that Canada is not taking care of its wounded soldiers and their families. Oddly, this isn't mentioned anywhere in the gushing praise for the outgoing Rick Hillier -- a Liberal-appointed CDS who became the poster boy for the war on Afghanistan.
I've been saying since the start of our work in Afghanistan that the price of this war isn't tallied today, but starting ten years from now and carrying on to the end of this generation. We've sent thousands of Canadians into an intense war zone -- many of them reservists -- and we must bear the cost of dealing with the consequences of our little national adventure as great and as long-term as those costs might be.
If we don't actively and cheerfully bear those costs, if we don't care for the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of the wounded and their families for as long and as far as they need us, then we have failed as a nation. The "support the troops" brand of politicization, crude and inane as it might be, requires those who subscribe to it -- most notably our current government -- to actually put in place the infrastructure and mechanisms by which these troops are actually supported.
The military is doing better than it was, say, 15 years ago, when there was no individual counselling for returning peacekeepers and no treatment available for PTSD. But without the political commitment -- which in this case means money and effort -- to maintain the standard of living for wounded soldiers and their families at least at the average for other soldiers and veterans, our government has failed those soldiers. It won't be long, at this rate, before the Afghanistan mission's image is an aging panhandler -- similar to the image of Vietnam veterans in the USA today.
Our current government has already failed once -- an abject, tragic, and shameful failure -- to support our soldiers deployed around the world. Afghanistan is poised to become a much larger failure, whose consequences will be borne throughout Canadian society for many years to come.
-- Matt Bin