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Veterans' benefits beefed up

Gunner

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http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20060406.wveterans0406/BNStory/National/home

Veterans' benefits beefed up
MICHAEL DEN TANDT

Globe and Mail Update

The Harper government Thursday unveiled a beefed-up package of veterans' benefits that it billed as the most comprehensive since the end of the Second World War.

The legislation, which was drafted in consultation with veterans' groups following years of complaints that former soldiers were being given short shrift, significantly increases pensions and survivor benefits. It also offers a new program of aid for reintegration into civilian life, including counselling and job training.

“A healthy young soldier's life can be turned upside down by enemy fire at any time,” Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson said.

The ceremony Thursday in Parliament's Centre Block — attended by numerous members of the House and Senate as well as the Chief of the Defence Staff and Mr. Harper — was yet another signal that the Tory government intends to cast itself as strongly supportive of the military, and Canadian patriotism generally.

Tory strategists are said to believe that the party's chances of winning a majority in the next election hinge to a degree on whether it can “capture the flag” or harness Canadian nationalism to its cause.

In a brief speech, Prime Minister Stephen Harper first thanked the numerous veterans in the audience, saying they embody the “highest attributes of citizenship.” He then made pointed reference to his recent journey to Afghanistan.

“I was deeply moved by the strength and enthusiasm and dedication of those brave men and women,” he said. “Canadians stand behind them and their mission.”

Mr. Harper also used the occasion to express public support for Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier. “That goes right up to the top,” he told the general. “I wouldn't worry about becoming a veteran just yet.” The legislation underlying the New Veterans' Charter, Bill C-45, was passed into law last May, with all-party support. But just as Mr. Harper made the Liberals' Afghan deployment his own by travelling to Kandahar, he Thursday seized the issue of veterans' welfare.

The Prime Minister's public endorsement of Gen. Hillier is significant. During the election campaign, there were rumblings in the Tory camp that the general was providing advice to then-defence minister Bill Graham that amounted to partisanship.

This, and a philosophical disagreement with Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor on the issue of airlift procurement, had led to speculation in defence industry circles that Gen. Hillier, despite his dynamism and popularity with the troops, would not stay on for long under the new regime.
 

The Bread Guy

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Here's what the PM said Thursday about it:

http://news.gc.ca/cfmx/view/en/index.jsp?articleid=205719&

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Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen:

I would like to begin by thanking Minister Thompson for inviting me here this afternoon.

And I would like to express my appreciation for the dedication and determination he has been demonstrating so far in the handling of his new responsibilities.

I have no doubt that in the months that lie ahead Minister Thompson will continue to move forward in our new Government the issues that matter to Canadian veterans.

I would also like to take a moment to thank the veterans in attendance today, as well as the men and women who are currently serving in our Canadian Forces.

Past and present, you embody the highest attributes of citizenship and loyalty to our country: courage, fortitude, and bravery in the face of danger.

So, on behalf of the Government, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your years of service standing up for Canada at both home and abroad.

As may of you know, I recently visited our Canadian troops stationed in Afghanistan.

During the course of my visit, I was deeply moved by the strength, enthusiasm, and dedication these brave men and women demonstrate while carrying out their dangerous – yet extraordinarily important - mission in Kandahar Province.

In Kandahar, Canada is playing the lead role in the UN-sanctioned security mission that is rebuilding this war-torn country.

On a daily basis, our troops are bravely working towards enhancing security, and in turn, helping to build a more peaceful, democratic future for the Afghan people.

I would like to take this opportunity once again to thank these men and women for their efforts and to let them know that Canadians are proudly standing behind them and their mission.

Which leads me to what I’d like to discuss briefly with you today – our Government’s support for our men and women in uniform –more specifically, Canada’s veterans.

Because brave men and women like yourselves have stood up for Canada at both at home and abroad, our Government is committed to standing by you today by moving forward on the New Veterans Charter.

This Charter will offer comprehensive levels of support to those men and women who are injured or disabled while serving Canada.

In future, when our servicemen and women to leave our military family, they can rest assured the Government will help them and their families’ transition to civilian life.

Our troops’ commitment and service to Canada entitle them to the very best treatment possible.

This Charter is but first step towards according Canadian veterans the respect and support they deserve.

In the months ahead, Minister Thompson and the Government are going to work towards implementing a Veterans’ Bill of Rights that will further strengthen our ability to respond quickly and fairly to the concerns of veterans.

Furthermore, we are also going to work towards establishing a Veterans’ Ombudsman that would be charged with the responsibility of resolving veterans’ grievances with the system.

These, ladies and gentlemen, are our Government’s commitments to veterans, and I assure you that we’ll work with determination to see these initiatives through.

Thank you.
 
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Personally, I think it is about time that we have a government that will get off their butts and better recognize our current and former CF members. :)[Gand SF, the best regiment in 32Brigade!]
 
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