Sunday, November 7, 2010

on behalf of one veteran

This morning it was my intention to post a page from the defunct family history site, a page that commemorates those in our (extended) family that served in the military and went to war ……. some came home, some did not. Then, two headline stories caught my eye, one on the audacious disguise that failed for an illegal refugee from the far east and the other on the proposed changes to Veterans’ benefits. What leapt to my mind was the outrage our Dad would have felt at each of them.

Dad arrived in Canada from Scotland in the late 1920s with his parents. He was old school – you worked therefore you ate - so did your family. As a product of those times he would have been astounded that someone would even attempt to sneak into our country wearing a disguise and then to top it off be supplied with food, housing and all the necessities while waiting for unnamed bureaucrats to decide their fate. That we as a country could have homeless families and jobless youth and yet still accept people from elsewhere who immediately end up being government-supported would have been beyond the pale.

Even more demoralizing would have been that we as a country had allowed this deplorable situation to develop on one hand while attempting to take away from Veterans with the other. Were he aware of the costs of health care today, the (de)value of the dollar and the lump-sum payment proposal he would be horrified. The military fought for their country and as such should be able to count on that country in time of need. That being said, there was only one reason in his estimation that anyone should call on the VA for help – military wounded and/or incapacitated during service was who the pensions were for, as well as their dependents; those who needed extensive medical care (no government medical insurances existed for anyone back then).

Admittedly being part of the Commonwealth had allowed for his parents’ routine entry into our country and everyday jobs were not difficult to come by .. but still, nobody handed you a damn thing. You were not paid if you were ill – he even went to work with a full-blown case of the mumps because he knew the family needed his salary. Dad’s way of thinking may have been somewhat extreme – he for instance did not want to avail himself of the “unemployment insurance” that was temporarily available when he retired – it took Mum months to convince him that he need not be embarrassed to ’collect’; nor did he ever consider applying for any kind of help or support from Veterans’ Affairs. Handouts. It would have been dishonest to accept any support when he was perfectly capable of working.

His views on the world situation may seem a bit bizarre to some – each year the minister from our church used to visit parishioner’s homes in order to obtain donation commitments. He arrived armed with ‘collection’ envelopes – you were expected to pledge for the year and donate a portion each week. Each envelope had two sections, one for the church and the other for missionary activities. Dad flat out refused to give to any missions – it was his firm belief that a goodly proportion of the world’s wars may never have happened had no-one been allowed to travel afar forcing their beliefs on whomever they encountered. “What gives us the right?” he would ask.

Dad, in my heart I know you can see this and I hope I have not presumed …… I think I got it right …. Stop accepting immigrants unless they have a job to come to and don’t take a damned thing away from the vets who fought and are still fighting to make this country the envy of the world.

Thanks Dad

1 comment:

  1. >>Stop accepting immigrants unless they have a job to come to and don’t take a damned thing away from the vets who fought and are still fighting to make this country the envy of the world.

    Most of this is exactly what my family and I have been saying for a while now.

    My mother came from Newfoundland in the 50's with her cousin and her sister. She had to have a sponsor, and had to have a job waiting for her. She talks about how people told them to go back where they came from and stop taking jobs away from Americans - not that there was a line out the door at the time for the factory jobs they had at the time. It's boggling how drastically attitudes have changed - now the US not only seems to have ditched all the requirements she had to abide by, they're also sending jobs overseas by the thousand.

    My father never really talked about his Army stint, and I've never really known anyone recently in the military - until recently. And he went through hell. When he came home, it seems like they showed him a video and sent him on his way. I don't think I've ever been more shocked and ashamed of anything than when I started learning about how poorly our military is paid, and how shabbily they're treated when they leave the service.