Grateful for service, sacrifices

This is the week that Remembrance Day falls, and needless to say it will have more meaning this year than others for many people.
We all are grateful for the service and sacrifices of our armed forces, security, and police services. They physically protect us and our institutions, and devote their lives to this cause.
They put themselves in harm’s way, and do so knowing they may lose their health or their lives in the course of their duties.
They leave their families at home to accept training and participate on missions. They give so much.
The families of our personnel make important sacrifices on our behalf, as well. They see loved ones travel far away for training and for missions, and often are left at home alone to raise children and maintain the household.
They help their loved ones when they return home and are caregivers for those who suffer physical and mental injuries during their service. Ultimately, many families lose their loved ones in the course of their service and duties.
They also deserve our love and respect.
As your representative in Ottawa, I’m always looking for ways to honour and improve the lives of Canada’s veterans and their families.
My NDP colleagues and I have fought—and will continue to fight—to reverse the recent office closures of nine Veterans’ Affairs offices across Canada, including our Thunder Bay office, and reverse the 25 percent cut to staffing at Veterans’ Affairs Canada.
We also are fighting to ensure the federal government implements all of the recommendations of the House of Commons Veterans’ Affairs Committee report on the New Veterans Charter, which would greatly improve the lives of all veterans.
As a country and as a government, we can—and must—do more to help our veterans.
To close this week’s column, I would like to share a statement I made in the House of Commons last Wednesday on the subject of Remembrance.
I hope you have a good week. And if you see a veteran, please take a moment to offer them our thanks and appreciation.
“Like many families on Remembrance Day, we remember those who are serving, modern veterans, and those who went before them.
“My two grandfathers both served in the First World War.
“Just before 1914, my one grandfather lost both his wife and child in childbirth. He was among the first to join the war effort. He entered the war a private and, through battlefield commissions, ended the war a lieutenant-colonel.
“My other grandfather, a minister, was a pacifist and refused to bear arms. But he believed in the war effort and spent much of the war as a stretcher-bearer on the front lines.
“The story of my grandfathers is the story of many Canadians. They were very different men with very different beliefs, but both stepped forward in service of our country, our people, and our values when they were threatened.
“On behalf of my constituents from all different backgrounds and beliefs, I would like to thank our active personnel, veterans, and your families for your service and sacrifice.
“Lest we forget.”