Veterans have earned respect, remembrance

War veterans are feeling slighted with veterans affairs offices closing.

Based on the headlines, a lot of war veterans are feeling slighted and disrespected as it was announced that a number of veterans affair offices across the country are set to be closed.

War veterans are expressing unhappiness at the closures and feel a sense of betrayal as they served and sacrificed for the country.

It’s easy to see why as they – whether in the past or more contemporary times – put their lives on the line in foreign and dangerous environments and suffer a number of physical and mental ailments because of the traumatic situations they endured.

Remembrance Day is about a month away and the number of veterans from the Second World War is dwindling, a symptom of the passage of time. Since survivors from those wars are passing on, it makes it all the more important not to forget their sacrifice.

Children are taught about the wars in school, people buy poppies and that is a good thing, but there is something more than just life lost when a veteran passes away – someone with a genuine experience of war is lost as well.

War is often glamourized, whether in movies, television programsor video games and the actual experience might not fit the reality. It is one thing to kill someone and have virtual or computer-animated bullets whizzing by one’s head and another to have actually experienced fighting in Kandahar, Normandy, Dieppe or Passchendaele, with people dying around you and the fear that you might be the next to die.

It is key that the memory of those who serve the country is not forgotten and thankfully, the sacrifice of local soldiers is not being forgotten locally.

Local members of the Royal Canadian Legion say that veterans are in demand to make presentations to schools in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day – their tales giving students a small snapshot into what it is like to serve the country.

The legion in Lantzville and the District of Lantzville are doing their part to ensure that the sacrifice of soldiers is not forgotten, working on a war memorial that will consist of a cenotaph and a path of remembrance, which will have plaques bearing the names of veterans (living or dead) as well as names of first responders.

The memorial will not be completed in time for this Remembrance Day, but it is hoped that the community can assist in the $150,000 project – the federal government has promised to match any funds raised up to $50,000 as part of a Ministry of Veteran Affairs program and an application has been submitted to the provincial government for funding as well.

The memorial is located in Huddlestone Park on Lantzville Road, an area that sees a fair amount of traffic and will not only serve as a reminder during Remembrance Day ceremonies but also during the other 364 days of the year as well.

The physical and mental wounds that members of our Armed Forces suffer don’t heal in a day and in fact, some never fully heal, adding to the importance of never forgetting the sacrifice of veterans living and veterans that have passed on.

It takes a lot of courage to enlist and go into battle whether it’s the First World War, Second World War or even Afghanistan. Soldiers and members of the Armed Forces risk their lives and well-being, and it’s good to remember them.

There is a difference between actually experiencing war and battle and watching a movie or playing a video game.

There isn’t a substitute for real life in this situation.

reporter@nanaimobulletin.com