David Pugliese, Ottawa CitizenMore from David Pugliese, Ottawa Citizen
Published on: February 3, 2014
Last Updated: May 18, 2014 12:48 PM EST
This was sent to Conservative MP Cheryl Gallant by Barry L. Westholm, Sergeant Major (ret'd). It is a response to Gallant's statement that concerns by injured soldiers that they will get punted from the CF if they come forward is a figment of their imagination:
Your recent statements regarding injured and ill soldiers having to confront issues that are "in their minds" (Reference A.) and supporting the new, and stark, CPC catch-phrase "self-stigma" have prompted me to remove my support from the CPC. So you're aware, many of my former peers in the Canadian Armed Forces refer to the sidewalk leading to the Warrior Support Centre (where mental injuries are treated) as "the Walk of Shame" – this is the true stigma that faces our injured veterans.
I have had a long association with the CPC and thoughtful Canadian Conservatism over many years (see attachment). So it is with great regret that I now sever my ties with the CPC; regret not for my actions, but regret in that the CPC has strayed so far from the path of reason and respect regarding our veterans that I must take this action. Your Party has achieved great things in many areas, but they are now overshadowed by the specter of indifference and moral usury toward our veterans. This philosophy effectively undermines your achievements as all Canadians know, the foundation and ultimate success of this Country is built upon our veterans and not any political Party and/or policy.
You in particular have intimate knowledge of the pressures that face our veterans, and more so those that face the prospect of a posting to the Joint Personnel Support Unit (JPSU) (references B thru N.) In sending you information of the JPSU in the past many years, I knowingly risked censure, disciplinary measures and my very livelihood, but I did so knowing it was for the best of reasons: our injured and ill troops. This said, when you spoke before Parliament recently to chide our veterans and promote a dysfunctional organization (the JPSU), I was left in shock, disillusioned and most certainly dismayed.
Although I have assisted you in the past, and communicated with you often on many subjects, all communication from you ceased with the submission of my Letter of Resignation (reference O.) Since that time I have asked repeatedly to speak with you as my Member of Parliament and have not received an answer. I now understand why, and your recent actions in Parliament have made your silence loud and clear. I believe that your message has reached the ears of many of your supporters, and I hope they are listening carefully.
I have posted a portion of our correspondences online for public viewing with a hope to help your peers, opposition and citizens appreciate the information I presented to you and your inaction of same. Many soldiers have committed suicide since my first email to you, and I can only ponder those that could have been better supported, assisted or saved if action was taken – but no action was taken. Canadian soldiers are expected to fight on foreign land, not their homeland – I find it disgraceful that the CPC does not yet understand the issues involved. I hope you, and your Party, have a epiphany of some sort very soon – lives are truly on the line.
I will now carry on as an independent voter in search of a new party to support, and want you to know without an iota of doubt, that if you can chase me from the CPC, then you can chase anybody away from the CPC (and I heartily encourage them to do so). I hope that in reading this, some of your colleagues will give a second thought at the treatment of veterans, staffing of the JPSU, amending the New Veterans Charter, the untimely closing of VAC Centres and the reinstitution of VAC pension plan.
Barry L. Westholm, CD
Sergeant Major (ret'd)
613 587 4203
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.