Open letter re: Closing of Veterans Affairs offices

Dear Editor:

This week I attended a news conference where two Yukon veterans outlined their opposition to the Government of Canada’s decision to close nine Veterans Affairs offices across Canada. 

It was an emotional event and one that is part of a national campaign launched at the beginning of October to protest the pending closures.  The veterans in attendance explained the impact the decision will have on themselves and others who rely on these services. 

Announced as a cost-cutting measure in the 2012 federal budget, the move means many veterans will now have to receive assistance through Service Canada offices instead of the specialized care available from Veterans Affairs.  As one of the veterans put it there is no other duty where you sign on the dotted line with your life for your country.  The reward for that level of service is the comfort that our soldiers will be properly cared for until death.  Having to wait in line at Service Canada beside vacationers looking to update their passports, while you wish to speak to a professional crisis support worker for your PTSD, is not living up to this commitment.

I cannot support the way veterans are being treated by their federal government and it is not too late to reverse this decision. I want to urge all Yukoners to make their voices heard by contacting our Member of Parliament and our Senator who have both publicly supported the budget that contains these cuts.  In the Legislature this week the Premier said Yukoners should “make remembrance something that you do.  This year, take the time to do something extra to remember.” I hope he will take his own advice, show some leadership, and lobby his counterparts to reverse this insulting budget cut.

As we mark Remembrance Day on Monday now is the time to let our veterans know they are supported by the public and let your politicians know you don’t support these cuts.

Sandy Silver,

MLA, Klondike