During this election military veterans have been rallying round one party or another’s election promises to the veterans community to the point of name calling to support one party over another. That is all well and good in the spirit of election fever if the measure of success is a promise over tangible benefits. We’ve learned from past elections that promises are used primarily as tools to get one party elected over another. Election promised are quickly discarded when parties form government.
Another peculiar fact has shown that despite concerned citizens taking government to court over failed election promises on behalf of disabled veterans, veterans organizations and individual advocates forgo the election promises and the legal authority of the courts to come up with their own self-serving list of priorities. So are veterans lobbying for promises or tangible benefits?
The matter that has veteran pitted against veteran during this election are the party’s policy on veterans should they form government. Veterans are arguing that one party’s promise is better than another without taking the time to understand what the promises actually say. So from the veteran’s point of view the promises seem straight forward. What can be any clearer than a promise to restore pensions, increase education, disability and/or widow’s benefits, right? Veterans come by this honestly because they come from a culture that sees things in black and white … people get hurt when things are gray. The political parties know this and are wise to have their promises delivered by candidates who are also military veterans or are known as veteran’s champions. Military culture is leadership dependent where Generals or leaders are relied upon for direction. So while the parties are smart to attempt to gain veterans votes by using former military leaders or champions to deliver their promises, veterans need to realize that their cultural vulnerabilities are being exploited.
Entitlements to veterans’ benefits and their policies are complex making the language in the party’s election promises over simplified and deceptive. For example, a promise to “restore” veteran’s pensions should only mean repealing the NVC’s lump sum defaulting to the tax-free life long monthly disabilities pension of the Pension Act. That’s the only pension there is to restore however, when the promise of a restored pension is followed by a promise to increase the disability award, it can only mean that they intend to keep the controversial lump sum. The promise of to restore the pension is deceptive. This is but one example of many in the party’s promises that raise a red flags.
Veterans would be wise to read these election promises like they would read the fine print of an insurance policy knowing that every word is skillfully placed to have veterans read what they want to hear while ensuring no accountability sticks to the party should they form government.
Veterans would also be wise to remember that government’s focus is to save money and the party promises are no different. They are worded to sound generous until the details are measured.
Except for the lump sum, the programs of the NVC ended sixty years of government neglect in providing CF veterans with re-establishment ands other benefits. But they robbed disabled veterans and their families of life long pensions to pay for the benefits. Now there’s some plain language veterans can get their heads around. Let’s hold all parties accountable to that during the election.