There are 525,600 minutes in the year and on
Nov. 11 we take just one of those to pause and show our respect to the men and women who served, and continue to serve, in our military services.
Whether it is the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, peacekeeping efforts or Afghanistan, the bravery of putting oneís life on the line for our Canadian way of life is worthy of taking the time to remember, at the very least.
But it seems the very least is also what some veterans can expect from Veterans Affairs after they die.
News media outlets have revealed this week that the financial assistance program set up to assist in the burial of low-income veterans once they pass away is failing to meet those needs.
The Last Post Fund is a non-profit organization established in 1909 with the mission to ensure that no eligible Canadian or Allied veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial due to insufficient funds at the time of death.
This program delivers the Funeral and Burial Program on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada. But reports indicate that the fund has been rejecting two out of three requests made by veterans, and those who do manage to qualify are limited in the amount of funds they can access.
The amount of money offered up to give dignified burials to vets has been capped at $3,600 since 2001. This is about one-third of the average cost for a funeral. Furthermore, the reason for many refusals is a maximum annual income level determining eligibility, which the government set at $12,000 in 2001. Meanwhile, $28 million was spent this year on reenacting the War of 1812.
Veterans of the military efforts in Afghanistan also need not apply to the program, as they would not be eligible.
Canadian funeral directors are obliged to cover the added costs, and are gratefully doing so, but the fact of the matter is it is not their responsibility. The federal government, and the party in control of the government, the Harper Conservatives, dishonour the efforts and memories of war veterans with their lack of any effort whatsoever to change this situation.
And this isnít news to the feds either. In 2010, the Royal Canadian Legion called upon Veterans Affairs to increase funeral support for all veterans. With Remembrance Day coming up on Sunday, the Legion issued a statement to remind the government of its duty to support low-income war seniors and revisit this issue.
Remembrance Day is a time when we symbolically recognize our veterans and active military personnel for their service. To turn around and regularly deny veterans a dignified burial through a program established to do just that is a kick in the teeth to everything that minute of silence is meant for.
They were willing to give their lives for our country; to honour them properly in death is an obligation we canít forget.