More than 6,000 Canadian Forces members and discharged veterans who are receiving physical or psychiatric disability benefits from Veterans Affairs Canada have either served in Afghanistan or have a disability that has been related to their service in Afghanistan, the department says.The Forces have been telling us that the number wounded in Afghanistan is 529. 529 wounded Canadians would be bad enough but when the real number is more than 6000, the figure quoted by the Canadian Forces is an all-out assault on the truth.
A few weeks ago, I posted up an audio blog where I sang a song by Tom Paxton that decried the psychological toll we exact upon our young people when we send them off to war. Today, when I read the Hill Times article, the poignancy of that song came back to haunt me again.
It's bad enough when we are forced into a war and must fight for our way of life and our very survival. In Afghanistan, we are fighting to support a fraudulently elected Hamid Karzai and his gang of warlords, opium merchants, bribe-takers and torturers. We've sacrificed the lives of 139 Canadians to an unworthy cause with unworthy allies.
Now, we find out that the wounded number far more than we were led to believe.
When I was a boy in the 1950's my WWII veteran dad would sometimes point out one of what he referred to as the "walking wounded". We'd see them on the street, often wearing a ragged military uniform and holding out a cup, begging for a handout from those for whom they sacrificed their sanity. My grandfather was a WWI Vimy vet. His name for the walking wounded was "shell shocked."
Today, we have a new name for the same problem. We call it "post traumatic stress disorder" or PTSD. When a loved one is killed in action it is a tragedy with a certain amount of closure, honour and solemn dignity. When a loved one sacrifices his or her sanity and mental well-being it is an ongoing, festering sore that rips apart families and continues to take physical, mental and financial tolls on the individuals, their families and society, in general.
The very least we should be able to expect is a truthful accounting of the numbers of troops who are suffering as a result of this misguided mission. We all bear the costs... and the shame.
(h/t to zippyFX on Twitter)