We mark Remembrance Day this month, looking back on the past generations who have served during times of war, conflict, and in times of peace, with many having paid the ultimate sacrifice to uphold justice and freedom in our world.
The Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding is proud to have so many active and retired service personnel call it home. They have my deepest gratitude, and I know all residents will join me in honouring them on Remembrance Day.
As we reflect back, so too do we look forward, to the many veterans and service personnel serving in military operations today and acknowledge the sacred oath they have taken in defence of our country. As a Member of Parliament, I had the honour of being invited to sail with the Royal Canadian Navy aboard HMCS Vancouver last year, and I witnessed first-hand the dedication and professionalism of the men and women who wear the uniform. I also feel the weight of responsibility for being a part of the Parliament that is regularly called upon to debate and vote upon missions that put these people into harm’s way.
But our commemoration and celebration of this bravery is incomplete without a commitment to ensuring veterans and their families are well cared for and receive all the services and support they are entitled to. This means the Department of Veterans Affairs, in its effort to look after those suffering from physical and emotional trauma like PTSD, must provide more effective and supportive case management and work to reduce the longer and longer wait times.
Those who serve in our armed forces have a duty to our country, but we also have a duty to them – a duty to ensure veterans who face unimaginable circumstances with bravery and courage in times of conflict have the supports they need when they return home. They deserve so much more than just our gratitude and our remembrance.
Veterans have helped shape the history of our country, solidifying our reputation around the world today as a nation that upholds human rights, and stands steadfastly to protect the most vulnerable.
So, as we remember them this month and recite the words: “lest we forget,” we must also ensure our government does not forget the duty it has to our veterans. This will be one of the most important ways to show we truly honour them.
Alistair MacGregor is the Member of Parliament for Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.