THEY ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING THE FORGOTTEN ONES – soldiers returned from Afghanistan in danger of losing government support for damage, internal and external, resulting from their respective tours of duty.
Much as we might not want to think of that conflict, we mustn’t forget those who journeyed there under orders, nor the poor treatment they have received since coming home from the political masters who sent and resourced them.
Joseph Angelini is one of them, and he now has a problem that he simply won’t relinquish out of loyalty to those he fought with.
Joseph returned to Canada following two tours of duty in Afghanistan, first in 2005, and then again in 2008, where he was sent home suffering from PTSD and physical injuries after an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) took its toll on Tango 33, his tank troop. Almost all of the 16 members suffered mental or physical trauma and were sent back to Canada. Sadly, one of their number died.
That’s where the true cost of being a soldier became real to them. Initially, the treatments were good, but it became clear, over time, that their condition was beginning to fall between the cracks of Defence Department bureaucracy. About a year after their return, some of their number were released from the Canadian Armed Forces. It came as something of a surprise, since they were all assured that the armed forces would do everything possible to employ them following their recovery. Soldiers have to be in the service for 10 years before they can qualify for a small pension – a level none of them had yet reached. They were effectively released from the army for medical reasons – a tragic irony.
Recently, a member of his troop called Joe, asking for help to get some groceries. They endured untold hardships together and there was no way Joe could ignore the request. “No matter where we are,” he says, “or how far apart we may be, we’re a family and we help each other out.” But how could the troop help out when their own access to resources was so limited?
It was then that Joe hit on an idea: start a fund so that any member of the troop could access funds only for emergencies. If enough funds were raised, help could be given for out-of-pocket medical expenses or the furthering of education. With their Sergeant, in Canada and dying of late stage lymphoma, they can even pay a final visit to him, as he had requested.
Unfortunately for Joe, fundraising just isn’t taking off. He volunteers at the London Food Bank, and when he told me about the fund, I said I’d like to write a blog on it. So here it is, as promised.
Perhaps some of us can help. Jane and I are donating, and maybe some others will pitch in as well. If you’re interested, go to http://gogetfunding.com/project/troop-support.
It is one thing for government to send dedicated men and women to war and promise to cover costs for them and their families, but something is amiss when they have to wage another war at home just for emergency help. We’re supposedly better than this as a nation and this problem won’t merely be solved by funds, but by policies that cover the backs of those that guard the front.