By Clare Ogilvie
For many across the country, this Remembrance Day will have new meaning following the tragic murders of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was gunned down Oct. 22 in Ottawa, and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who was run over and killed by a man "linked to terrorist ideology."
The investigation into Cirillo's killer continues.
These are the types of attacks that Canadians are used to reading about in other countries. It has been with pride that we boast of our modest security at places such as our Parliament buildings. We are the peacekeepers, the builder of schools, the educators.
But we are also a target — indeed we have always been since linking our foreign policy to our allies and the War on Terror. Perhaps we have just been lucky enough, or just off the radar enough, to avoid direct attack until now.
We have to live with the fact that while another attack may not be imminent, it could happen.
The shocking nature of what happened in the attacks and the fact that military personnel were targeted has also raised our awareness of those who serve in our armed forces — and the challenges they face not just because the military is chronically underfunded (what we should be spending on military is an editorial for another day), but also because of the apparent lack of support many get upon their return to life in Canada.
When our troops came home from Afghanistan in March there was the typical government response — thanks, let's create a day honouring you, let's shake some hands during a photo op for the media.
Meanwhile, the real story continued on the back pages of the national media with veterans being forced to sue the government to fight for support after returning home from war.
The lawsuit was launched as a class action, and brought by veterans upset with the compensation arrangement offered to wounded soldiers under the New Veterans Charter of 2005. It was filed in October 2012, and involves a group of six veterans, all of whom served and were injured in Afghanistan.
Under the New Veterans Charter, vets are offered a lump sum payment instead of a lifetime pension. Veterans say the changes mean wounded soldiers will receive much less over their lifetimes.
One of the lawsuit's main arguments is the existence of a "social contract" between the government and Canadian Forces veterans.
The lawsuit argues a social covenant was first promised to those who served in the Canadian Armed Forces during the First World War and has been continually promised since then, through policy, political speeches and veterans' legislation, until now, according to documents on CBC's website.
That promise includes adequate recognition and benefits for those who serve.
But in its legal response, government lawyers argued the country has no special obligation to its servicemen and women and that the current government can't be bound by the political promises of its predecessors.
Last month the Harper government said more changes would be made to the Veterans Charter — perhaps to appease those who will make this an election issue in 2015.
The changes flow from the government's response to a House of Commons committee review, which earlier this year recommended 14 specific changes to the support and benefits regime.
But veterans' advocate Sean Bruyea told CBC earlier this year, "I believe it will eventually makes things worse if they are enacted in their entirety.
"The bureaucracy does not want to pay for veterans benefits."
You might be shocked to learn that the number of suicide deaths in the veteran community has surpassed that of those who gave their lives in combat during the mission in Afghanistan — 158 soldiers died in the line of duty — Canada's longest combat mission at 12 years.
And according to the Veteran's Ombudsman, nearly half of the most severely injured, or ill, veterans are not receiving the care they require.
So on Nov.11 wear a red poppy to honour all those who have fallen in service, but also for those whose battle does not end when they come home to Canada.
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.