Dear Editor:

In response to Ernie Slump’s rebuttal to my letter on Liberal support to veterans (Courier, May 23), let me clarify a few points.

Slump is correct that the original concept for lump-sum payments was agreed to by the Liberal government in consultation with members of the Canadian Forces, Veterans Affairs and the Royal Canadian Legion.

Slump indicates that the Conservatives would face defeat if they did not implement the new plan. If the Conservatives disagreed with the plan and only implemented it to avoid defeat — shame on them. They would put an election ahead of the welfare of our troops. I hate to believe that; however, Slump may be correct.

The problems with the new plan became apparent after its implementation by the Conservatives and it was the Conservatives, with a majority government, that fought our veterans against a return to the life-time pensions. When the Liberals came to power, they had to let the matter go through the courts. Then they reversed the unpopular policy.

It was the Conservatives who closed nine veterans’ affairs offices, froze military wages (April 1, 2013) and clearly showed their lack of concern for the military throughout their tenure.

The story about the artillery paratrooper, while making good reading, is hearsay and, having served 34 years in the Canadian Forces, I doubt very much its veracity. The military would fight tooth and nail for such a comrade.

Slump says there are over 40,000 Afghanistan veterans suffering from PTSD. Nonsense. That would mean every military person who served in Afghanistan over 13 years has PTSD. In fact, as of March 2018, the number of Afghanistan vets receiving pensions for PTSD was 6,700 or approximately 17% of veterans.

It might be noted that in March 2014 only 3,200 Afghanistan vets were receiving benefits. So in three years, the Liberals have more than doubled the number of recipients.

In other circumstances ,I would take umbrage with Slump’s comments about my attitude towards veterans, but I realize that he is misinformed. My sole purpose is to alert citizens of the treatment of our troops by the past Conservative governments and my fear of history repeating itself.

Justin Trudeau is not perfect, but his record of accomplishments for all citizens clearly shows his humanity. A country is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable and I have no doubt that Liberal policies reflect the empathy and compassion required to maintain our global reputation.

However, each person must vote their conscience. The only person you answer to is the person in the mirror.

Patrick MacDonald

West Kelowna

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