BY JESSICA SWIETONIOWSKI
Remembrance month is a time to honour our soldiers, but some veterans feel like there is much more to do in supporting our troops. Soon we’ll be going into election year and military spending and veteran affairs is always a hot topic.
“Our government just washes their hands of Veterans Affairs. They don’t want to help former soldiers who were injured, mentally and/or physically,” says Ryan Matt Snook, 35, who was enlisted for three and a half years in the Canadian Armed Forces.
At a town hall in Edmonton on Feb. 2, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the now famous quote, “Why are we still fighting against certain veterans’ groups in court? Because they are asking for more than we are able to give right now.” This response to an injured veteran sparked outrage across the country.
“Honestly, I don’t even know if our government even cares about our Canadian Forces.”
Snook expressed his frustration on reintegrating ISIS fighters and about the $10.5 million that was given to Omar Khadr but he wishes our government would put more focus to reintegrating former soldiers back into civilian world. “Put more support into our troops, reward them for being a true patriot, show them how Canada and its government honours its soldiers and former soldiers. Not giving money away to other countries and raising taxes and cutting military budgets,” Snook said.
Snook suffered a knee injury in 2003, which eventually forced him to leave the military in 2006, but he carries everything he learned while serving into his future. He learned about brothers in arms, discipline, order, chain of command, honour and respect. He says he has given up on his government. He doesn’t see the respect our soldiers deserve and says, “Trudeau needs to be stopped before he dooms Canada.”
With our current liberal government our defence budget has been cut by $3.7 billion. According to the Liberal Party’s 2015 platform they promised they will reinvest in building a leaner, more agile, better-equipped military, including adequate support systems for military personnel and their families. Trudeau made it clear this hasn’t been a priority. According to MP James Bezan, Official Opposition Critic for National Defence, and MP Pierre Paul-Hus, Official Opposition Associate Critic for National Defence, despite Liberal promises, there has been a complete stall on important projects like the Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships, replacements for the CF-18s, the Cyclone Maritime Helicopter Project and the Integrated Soldier System Project.
“Honestly, I don’t even know if our government even cares about our Canadian Forces. I mean, I know they do train the soldiers in their field, but no one can predict the unexpected. I never had to option to be deployed overseas, due to my knee injury that was constantly causing my pain and suffering,” says Snook. “Like a marriage, for better or for worse. After 12 years of being out of the military, I could feel something inside me was wrong. Like I was fighting a demon in the dark and not knowing what I was fighting or why. After several doctors’ appointments, I was diagnosed with PTSD. Even though I was never deployed, it was the treatment I received from an instructor that was like a seed that was planted in me and growing over the years. But thanks to some great people at Veterans Affairs, they are getting me the help that I need to fighting this mental disability. They are doing the best they can with what they have, NO THANKS to our government.”