Author Topic: The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., M.P.  (Read 1721 times)

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Mike Blais

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The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., M.P.
« on: September 06, 2012, 05:04:25 PM »
September 5, 2012

The Right Hon. Stephen Joseph Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Langevin Building
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A6

Dear Prime Minister,

My name is Michael L. Blais, CD. I am the president and founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

I am contacting you today, Mr. Prime Minister, to inform you of Operation Ardent Dignity, a public awareness campaign launched by the Canadian Veterans Advocacy to draw needed attention to the sacrifice of those who have been wounded in Afghanistan and who will regrettably be released from the Canadian Forces to what is clearly a very uncertain future.  I describe their release from the Forces as regrettable because many of these disabled soldiers are quite capable of contributing to the military in a variety of needed roles as once stated by General Hillier who, in his capacity as CDS, promised these soldiers a continued place for them in the Forces. I served with the Royal Canadian Regiment, a regiment that has been seriously impacted by its service in Afghanistan and a unit that has suffered great loss of life and treasure. I know many who have sustained serious physical and mental wounds, who at the time of the announcement felt great relief to know that their government recognized and respected their sacrifice in Afghanistan making promises that would allow them to continue to serve our nation in uniform.

I understand that the decision not to honour this promise has been made yet I feel that if these wounded soldiers were given the opportunity to demonstrate to you their value to the CF and to this nation, you would recognize that their continued service does not diminish the effectiveness of our military but provides a positive component, steeped in lessons learned, to the Canadian Forces.

I respectfully encourage you to reconsider the decision to release such a significant number of soldiers who have sacrificed arms, legs or sustained other injuries, and to ensure the promises announced in good faith by General Hillier to these men, women and their families are honoured. No doubt there are many positions in the CF that do not require military personnel to conform to the Universality of Service standards, standards that in their rather arbitrary nature – with the possibility for exemptions and sliding scales that takes age and gender under consideration – are problematic at best.

I understand that this is a time of austerity. Indeed, I want to take this opportunity to express my personal appreciation to you for sparing the budget of Veterans Affairs Canada from the degree of cuts sustained by most other departments during the most recent federal budget. Regardless of the direction in which your government chooses to address this issue, I believe it is our duty to ensure that our communities are prepared for the day when our wounded Afghanistan veterans return to their homes or move into communities across the nation with their families. There will be community, municipal, provincial and federal requirements for health, education, community recognition/support and most importantly, employment.
Operation Ardent Dignity has been designed to support these veterans and it is my sincere hope that your government will understand and embrace our mission. The objectives of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy are non-political and are entirely focused on improving the quality of life for those who have suffered the serious consequences of war and who have, or soon will be, released from the CF into communities across the nation.

Operation Ardent Dignity is a two-phase operation. First, we will be encouraging federal and provincial parliamentarians to cooperate with local municipal governments on November 3, 2012, to participate in or co-organize Wounded Warriors Task Forces within their respective communities. The projected Rallies for Veterans on November 3rd will help ensure our wounded, injured, and permanently disabled soldiers, along with their families, will not be released into an uncertain future. These Rallies will help draw attention to the many needs of young veterans and their families including social reintegration, access to adequate health care related to their service injuries, appropriate education, vocational training, and employment opportunities, as well as ensuring they are accorded the highest level of patriotic respect, care and compassion they so richly deserve.

The second phase of Operation Ardent Dignity will be a Vigil for the Wounded on Parliament Hill on November 10, 2012. This year the Canadian Veterans Advocacy will not conduct a national protest as we have done since 2010, but will focus national attention on the incredible sacrifices made by our soldiers and veterans and the serious issues facing these brave men and women, such as the discriminatory Lump Sum Disability Award and inadequate compensation for the military families who have paid the ultimate price in order that Canada could commit to a war in Afghanistan.

In closing, I would request, if at all possible, to meet with you at your convenience to discuss the myriad of difficult issues facing our Wounded Warriors. It is my hope that such a meeting would improve future dialogue between the government of Canada and the Canadian Veterans community for the purpose of restoring the sacred, lifetime obligation veterans believe Parliament abandoned when it enacted the New Veterans Charter in 2006.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Michael L. Blais, CD
Founder & President