War is not glamorous, Mr. MacKay

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Speaking in Brandon last week, Defence Minister Peter MacKay pointed to plans to spend another half billion on the Canadian military and asserted that it is a “good time to be a soldier.” Needless to say, this is not a perspective we would share.

Nor was Mackay’s message well received by at least two readers of the Brandon Sun, whose letters appear below.

Letter to Editor – Feeding the war machine

Brandon Sun
July 2, 2008

In regards to Defence Minister Peter MacKay visiting Brandon last week, it was noted that his talk was to a handful of people, a small audience in an overly large meeting hall.

Oh, how very symbolic.

Our defence man from Ottawa speaking to a near-empty hall. Was low turnout in response to the recent midnight announcement by the Department of National Defence that it plans to spend a minimum of $490 billion on defence in the next 20 years?

Arms, U.S. aircraft, tanks, trucks worth at least $100 billion. The public’s “peacetime” dollars to fund a “wartime” agenda that has been scripted largely by the Bush family and the American military-industrial complex. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has become the yes man to the out-of-control war mindset south of the border.

Harper and MacKay have nailed shut the coffin to Canada as a peacekeeping nation. Even Australia has come to its senses by pulling out of Iraq.

No doubt MacKay’s stop at CFB Shilo was greeted with cheers, but not from the tax-paying public in Brandon who long for Canada to once again be favoured as a peacekeeping nation.

Let’s not aid by way of arms purchases the war-grubbing, hijacked nation to the south of us. Harper and MacKay are planning to sell us out.

Richard Yates
Oakburn, MB

Letter to the Editor: War is not glamorous, Mr. MacKay

Brandon Sun
June 28, 2008

On the front page of Wednesday’s Brandon Sun, Defence Minister Peter MacKay told Brandon that now “it’s a good time to be a soldier.”

On page A4 of the same newspaper, there is story about how a Winnipeg soldier was released after breaking 19 bones in his 18-month-old triplets, because he was damaged by the time he spent in Afghanistan and needed help, not punishment, after returning from war as a ‘different person.’

On June 12 of this year, my husband, a retired soldier, committed suicide after being treated for seven years with post-traumatic stress disorder after returning from Bosnia in the early 1990s as a ‘different person.’

Medications and therapy were no match for the recurring visions of war in the media, the sensationalism of being a proud Canadian and serving your country everywhere you look. Ignorant comments like Peter MacKay’s only add to the pain and torment these shattered heroes deal with every day and every night, the anxiety their families face and the fear they learn to live with.

There is no good time to be a soldier. There is no good time to put your life on the line for another’s agenda. There is no good time to return to your family ‘different’ and put your loved ones at risk.

While I admire, applaud and am in awe of our military personnel, I am so tired of the glamorization of the roles our soldiers play and the downplaying of the sacrifices made by them and their families.

While we celebrate our soldiers, support them in their cause and mourn the fallen heroes, let us not forget those heroes that return to us forever changed. These are silent heroes that may not even know they are in need of help until it is too late.

How many families need to be broken, how many babies need to be hurt and how many innocent lives lost before we fully admit to and realize the true cost of war?

Michelle Gilbert
Rivers, MB

© Copyright Brandon Sun. All Rights Reserved. Republished with permission of the Brandon Sun.

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