I started Our Duty in 2010. I had watched then-Veterans Ombudsman Col Pat Stogran, RCAF Captain Sean Bruyea, and JTF-2 member Brian Dyck (RIP) go public with how Canada was treating its veterans. I was shocked, not just over the treatment, but because I hadn’t heard a peep about it. As a news junkie and former radio host, I knew that if I hadn’t heard anything about this issue, then probably no other civilian had. I contacted Pat and asked how I could help. Pat said, “Tell people!”
So I did.
Little did I realize then that that was the beginning of the outing of the government. Veterans groups started springing up everywhere. There was a nationwide protest. Slowly, citizens learned how badly veterans were treated. Support for veterans grew in the coming years, along with understanding of their issues, and how we are failing them.
Organizations rose and fell since then. To date, Our Duty is still the only citizen-based group. Such a group is necessary. The battle line between veterans and government has existed for a century. What has been missing is the voice of Canadians citizens; we who ultimately employ both the Forces/RCMP and Government. In 2010, veterans appealed directly to us citizens. We have sent numerous messages to Ottawa, telling them to fix the problem.
During Election 2015, a lot of conservatives – including veterans – abandoned their traditional Party and backed the Liberals. This happened because the Liberals made some big promises, promises to do what we all had been demanding, to fix veterans benefits. Because of that, and because Trudeau won the election, many advocates stepped back in order to give the new government time to enact their promises. Sadly – but not surprisingly – this government is treating veterans the same as the previous. And the one before that. And before that. And so on, back the The Great War.
Meanwhile, there have been changes in the advocacy side. Some of us who had stepped back have become embroiled with other things: family, putting food on the table, trying to have a life not centred on attacking government. That’s not to say we no longer care. But 2010-2015 is a long time to fight the good fight. Especially as most of us were using our own money to do so.
Since 2010, there have also been big changes in how the Internet is used. In the first decade of this century, it was essential to have a website. Around 2010, a blog became essential. Those two could work hand in hand. But as the 2015 election approached, social media became the dominant tool. Now, both Twitter and Facebook are the essential platforms for spreading awareness and ideas.
Between stepping back, and the shift in platforms, this website hasn’t been updated in a long time. Owing to a lack of resources, it’s not likely to get any significant update in the foreseeable future. We will continue to keep the media RSS feeds open, and hopefully keep the Links updated.
And if we launch any major event, of course this page will again become the clearing house for all the information.
We haven’t abandoned the fight. Just a lot of this site.
We are active on Facebook and on Twitter. We are still sniping at government when they are wrong, or trying to put spin on the issues of veterans care.
We still believe that Citizens should be more active in monitoring government actions, in supporting veterans, in supporting other mistreated groups – especially our First Peoples, in voting, in holding each other to account.
Canada is not parliament. Nor is it some static entity that worships symbols. Canada is a living, breathing, community of citizens who work together to make our lives better. We have – and continue – to fail in that, but it is not beyond our doing. As more bad news comes out, as more issues arise, we can and must respond in our unique Canadian way: getting it done. Canada meets every natural disaster head on. We need to meet our social disasters the same way.
Please, continue to fight for the vulnerable and downtrodden and for a better Canada.
14 November 2017