Proceeds from the 2013 poppy campaign will go to help young veterans who’ve had their benefits cut, local organizers say.
“Legions are upset with the way the government has devastated the benefits,” said Doug Milne, past-president of the Crescent Beach Legion.
“These young vets, they’re really getting stabbed in the back.”
Milne was referring to the federal government’s decision to alter the way wounded soldiers are compensated, outlined in the New Veterans Charter.
Veterans Affairs Canada describes the charter as “a more complete approach to helping our men and women injured in the line of duty.”
Key, notes information on the VAC website, “is that it shifts the focus from a lifetime of disability to encouraging ‘wellness’.”
But Milne said the reality is it cuts benefits to new veterans by 95 per cent.
Efforts are underway to resolve the issue.
In September, Justice Gary Weatherill ruled a lawsuit filed against the govern
ment over its decision to alter the way wounded soldiers are compensated can proceed.
A report by Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent released last month calls for improvements to the New Veterans Charter, and criticizes accessibility of the Permanent Impairment Allowance, designed to compensate severely impaired veterans who can’t work. Fifty-three per cent of such veterans do not receive the benefits, the report states.
Milne said that lack of support is why this year’s poppy campaign is so vital.
“It’s more important than ever,” he said.
Local veterans launched the 2013 campaign with an afternoon event Oct. 27 at Semiahmoo ShoppingCentre. The Crescent Beach Pipe Band marched veterans and cadets through the mall before performing a small concert in the food-court area.
It went “absolutely fantastic,” Milne said.
It’s hoped this year’s fundraising will outdo that of 2012, when a little more than $30,000 was raised.
The funds also benefit local cadets programs, he noted.