Veterans of Canada - Honoring a Man of Vision
Several years ago, I was introduced to a man I have come to respect and appreciate. Don Leonardo, the founder of Veterans of Canada is a man who is worthy of our appreciation and support. Don is one of many veterans, but he is a veteran not just like every other. No, Don is a veteran with vision. What is Don's vision? Well, Don Leonardo has felt that veterans, such as himself have received the short end of the stick in many ways. He like many of us believe that if a person puts their life on the line for "king and country" that they should be taken care of when their "tour of duty" is completed.
The reality is that many soldiers that go to war to stand for our freedoms and our families end up pecking and scratching to survive, as "war vets" on a meager pension that is not enough for an average person to survive on and one which definitely does not demonstrate our appreciation for their heroic efforts to protect our freedom and democracy. Very often, war veterans, many of whom struggle with post traumatic stress disorder, have to wrangle their benefits and support out of the hands of, what seems to be, unwilling government.
I have heard many comments over the years from both veterans and their loved ones about the difficulties they have faced in attempting to arrange for treatments, funds and benefits packages due them for the service they have provided to our nation. This should not be. It is shameful. Veterans who have paid a heavy price for our freedoms should not be treated as second class citizens, receiving much less income per year than it costs to keep a criminal in jail. Every veteran I have spoken to does not go out of their way to toot their own horn and to say how wonderful they are and how they deserve to be admired. Rather, they reiterate that as a patriot they gladly went and fought for their families and ours to ensure that all of our children could grow up in a free land.
One of the things that has impressed me about Don, is that he, in creating Veterans of Canada, has put the interest of other veterans above his own. Committing many hours and dollars to creating a Veterans online community where veterans can meet and feel more connected to the world around them, feeling less alone and more empowered to re-establish social relationships with men and women like themselves, who understand the challenges of being a veteran and who use the online community as a place to give and receive moral support and companionship.
Don has also committed many, many, hours to creating proposals to government on veterans issues and has been involved with lobbying government for positive changes in veteran related government policies.
This weekend, Don Leonardo went one further, after having been recognized as an organization worthy of the attention and appreciation of the Governor General, Don was given the privilege of recognizing other Canadians who have played a notable part helping veterans and their cause in Canada. Don, on behalf of Veterans of Canada, and ultimately on behalf of the office of the Governor General, worked with PGIB to put on a wonderful awards dinner to thank those who have supported or contributed to bettering the veteran community in Canada. These people were thanked with a letter from the Governor General and were awarded a medal called the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal.
I truly hope that many more Canadians start showing respect for their selfless soldiers by supporting organizations like Veterans of Canada that works daily to ensure that veterans have a voice and that veterans issues do not continue to be ignored. It was truly a privilege to be at the dinner this weekend and to shake the hand of not only Don Leonardo, but the hands of other veterans that have paid a high price in order that we could live free. God bless you Don and congratulations on the honor that you have received from the office of the Governor General.
Concerned Christians Canada
Praying, Acting, Making a Difference!