A group of veterans gathered in downtown Halifax on Friday in protest of the $10.5 million settlement awarded to former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr.
Jay Tofflemire served almost 29 years in the Royal Canadian Navy. He said his son served two tours in Afghanistan and is now dealing with serious mental health issues.
“He was the one that opened those ambulance doors and seen what these IEDs do to people,” Tofflemire said.
“I’m not saying that my son deserves $10.5 million — he deserves to be looked after, he deserves to be heard and taken care of.”
Roland Lawless, director of veteran outreach with the Society for Atlantic Heroes said he believes the Canadian government dropped the ball and that Canadian taxpayers shouldn’t be footing the bill.
“I don’t think that it’s fair to our Canadian soldiers and sailors and air people that went over there to fight and then had to dispatch child soldiers. And how they have to live the rest of their life with that memory.”
Lawless, a veteran himself, said the government needs to focus more on providing support to Canadian soldiers in need of mental health supports.
“There’s not a day that goes by that our veterans don’t think about Afghanistan and the atrocities that they either had to do or witnessed,” said Lawless.
“It’s just as bad as anything that Omar Khadr went through, anywhere, in my eyes.”
Veterans UN-NATO member and Vimy medal recipient Gus Cameron said he is disgusted to see the government has moved forward with this type of settlement. He’d like to see more emphasis placed on allocating funds in support of veterans falling through the cracks.
“There’s veterans that served this country for 30-plus years that are trying to get the money together to get a wheelchair or a specialist to look at their back,” he said.
“They’re taking their own lives. We’re losing brothers and sisters every day.”