Report from your Crowfoot MP

Standing Up for Canada's Veterans: As your Member of Parliament, this week I have my offices working to prepare for the coming Remembrance Day ceremonies around our riding. I am sorting through the Government of Canada Wreaths that will be laid at the numerous Cenotaphs and Monuments in our local communities and writing the messages I will deliver. Over the years I have always tried to attend as many functions as possible during Veterans' Week.
I have been reviewing the details of the Government of Canada's efforts to serve Canada's retired military personnel.  All Canadians should be proud that our nation has always been among the best taking care of military veterans.
Over the first five Conservative government Budgets, Veterans programs spending has increased by over $2.5 billion. On September 28, 2010, we announced $2 billion in new funding to enhance financial support for Canada's Veterans and their families.
We want our government to care about preserving the dignity of Canada's Veterans and pay them the respect they have earned.  Our Conservative Government introduced the Veterans' Bill of Rights.  It strengthens the Government's ability to respond quickly and fairly to our Veterans. We created the position of Veterans' Ombudsman, and appointed Colonel Pat Stogran as the first Ombudsman. He has done an excellent job advocating on behalf of Veterans, and his successor will be named in the coming weeks.
$52.5 million of the new spending is to establish a "legacy of care" centered around five new initiatives to care for injured soldiers, sea and air personnel.  These initiatives contribute in a tangible and lasting way to their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into civilian life.
Working jointly with the Department of National Defence, our Conservative Government has opened Integrated Personnel Support Centres on 19 Canadian Forces Bases and Wings as part of a national network dedicated to the care of ill and injured CF personnel, former personnel, their families and the families of the deceased. Among other things, these centres offer "one-stop" services for DND and Veterans Affairs Canada to help to eliminate the transitional gap for those leaving the military.  We created a 24 hour, toll free help line, the VAC Assistance Service, for Veterans and their families who need access to professional counseling services.
While the previous system of disability pensions worked well following the Second World War, the times have changed.  Our new generation of veterans expects modern approaches and comprehensive medical and financial assistance to help them and their families through even the most catastrophic injuries and illnesses. This assistance flows from the New Veterans Charter, which represents the most sweeping changes in 60 years to the way Canadians care for our Veterans. The Charter was largely designed by advisory councils and veterans groups.
There are other efforts that our government makes on behalf of our Veterans that are too numerous to list here.  The price tag for serving Canada's Veterans is steep at more than $2 billion annually.  Our Conservative Caucus supports this spending because we believe our veterans are worth it. We are confident that our constituents feel the same way as every November 11 there are large crowds at local Remembrance Day Services across Canada - Lest we forget.


If you have any questions or concerns regarding this or previous columns you may write me at 4945-50th Street, Camrose, Alberta, T4V 1P9, call 780-608-4600, toll-free 1-800-665-4358, fax 780-608-4603 or e-mail sorenk1@parl.gc.ca.