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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Good Soldier

Veterans - retired soldiers - have a hard time speaking up on their behalf.  Will get to why in a second.
In a day and age where there is an increased emphasis on individuals to spend a huge chunk of their time and energy on promoting themselves (networking every evening, meaning no time for family; pushing the boss for promotion at every opportunity, rather than working harder; spending time and capital on branding and ignoring everything that doesn't help them get ahead) the mentality of the soldier seems a bit old-fashioned.
Especially when we have a government perfectly comfortable with spinning any position to suit their partisan interests, enabling their leader to take credit for everything and blame for nothing, the quaintness of the quiet veteran seems pitiable.
Now back to the why.
Soldiers are our nation's first line of defense against the fabled sea of troubles lapping at our shores.  They are the footsoldiers of freedom, representing Canada's values overseas in defense of those unable to defend against themselves.
To function, to survive, and to move forward, soldiers need to function like a team.  They will fully place their own survival in the hands of their comrades, knowing that if everyone has each other's back, odds of staying alive are greater.
Soldiers aren't enamoured with position; they are focused on accomplishment.  In a situation in some remote Afghani village where a non-ranking officer has better rapport with the local headman, he become the leader in that situation.  Adaptability is critical.
Above all, though, soldiers are loyal.  Forget the weak-kneed "omerta" of political partisanship, where individuals will hold their tongues knowing that silence suits their own self-interest; soldiers are trained to put mission before all else, even themselves.
To be disloyal to the cause they believe in is almost a sin.
The role of a soldier is to be a servant of the people, a barrier between us and what lies beyond, our feet on the ground in theatres of conflict.  Soldiers give themselves entirely to the cause, because they must - it takes that level of dedication and belief to survive and win against threats like ISIS.
Part of this social contract, however, is that Canada has their back. 
This is where the structural problems start to emerge.  What happens when you have a government that likes to tout military strength as a way to puff out their chest feathers, but also believes that the state has no responsibility for individuals, even soldiers?
The Harper government has a long history of attacking and character-assassinating anyone who challenges their method of operation.  They seem to think that title and power should mean they are supported unquestioningly.  More than a few of Team Harper have opted to attack veterans because it seemed convenient at the time, no matter the sacrifices those veterans and their families have made with the understanding that their country had their back.
Here's a little reminder to Team Harper, given in good faith.
Canada's military is charged with upholding Canadian's values, as written in documents like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  Their duty isn't to a person or a party, but to an institution. 
Veterans have had a hard time speaking in their defense because to do so goes against every fibre of their being.  Yet faced with governance that will do anything to promote it's own brand, veterans are starting to speak out.
This isn't an act of treason.  It's soldiers doing their job. 
Think on what that means big-picture for a second and you'll see it's not the veterans who are the problem.

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