Chris Fox, cp24.com
Published Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 12:06PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 12:26PM EST
As Canadians from coast to coast pay tribute to the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice one high-ranking soldier is speaking out about the way surviving veterans are being looked after by their government.
In an interview with CP24 Sunday morning, Major General Richard Rohmer said Ottawa needs to start making veterans a "priority" rather than forcing them to fight for the benefits they deserve.
"Quite often the veterans get the short shaft and are not treated the way they should be. They have to fight for everything they get when it should be the other way around," said Rohmer, who is a veteran of the Second World War and Canada's most decorated citizen. "They should be treated with the greatest of respect and they should be treated with all the benefits that the government can provide."
Rohmer, an officer of the Order of Canada, was a reconnaissance pilot during the Second World War and took part in the Battle of Normandy.
Upon retirement from full-time duty in 1953, he was admitted to the bar; however he continued to serve his country in the reserve forces and ultimately became the Chief of Reserves of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Speaking with CP24 prior to attending a Remembrance Day ceremony at Queen's Park Sunday, Rohmer said the government must do more to help veterans, particularly ones struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and physical disabilities incurred on the battlefield.
"We have a problem with veterans who have been injured and not looked after properly. World War II, the Korean War and certainly Afghanistan. It's a serious problem and I think this message is going to become fairly clear to the Prime Minister in the next little while," he said. "Whether it is the loss of a limb, PTSD or whatever it may be they (veterans) should have high priority and be totally looked after."
'A day of remembrance'
On a day intended to honour Rohmer and others like him, the Major-General told CP24 that he too would be remembering the many he served with that lost their lives fighting for their country.
"To me personally it is a day of remembrance," he said. "I think about the boys that I flew with in 430 Squadron that we lost before D-Day and after. I can see all their faces, their names, they are still alive in my memory and it's important to do."
Reflecting on the importance of the sacrifice made by many, Rohmer said Toronto simply would not be the city it is today without the actions of veterans.
"When we came back in 1945 Toronto was a flat city, it was totally British, and the highest building was the Royal York Hotel, but the men and women who fought in World War II and won the victory there really established a system of equality and magnanimity and bringing people to this country," he said. "From that base of war until today the growth of this city has been absolutely fantastic and that began in World War II with the people who fought the war and the people who provided supplies during that time. That's the beginning of one of the greatest cities in the world and that's Toronto."
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.