Personal Best: Veterans’ services badly needed

Remembrance Day this year was special. Crowds turned out in great numbers to honour our warriors, dead and alive. A heartfelt gratitude and appreciation was offered to our service men and women made more intense by the recent deaths of two soldiers wiped out by madmen.

The most momentous part of all these memorial services, for me, were the number of young people involved and genuinely interested in and appreciative of the sacrifices made in the battles fought by Canadians. These kids, most of them not even born at the time of these conflicts, stood proudly and applauded the feats of their fellow Canadians who fought for freedom for them. The kids got it and hopefully will carry this pride forward.

But have we got it. Does all this appreciation and applause translate into action so that we stop seeing so many of our veterans commit suicide and be relegated to the sidelines because they cannot get the services they need? Does this mean the government will reinstate veterans’ bureaus or provide more psychiatric services that have been promised and are so badly needed? Or is this just more grandstanding and face-saving for the government? Let’s make sure we don’t forget and remind them that our returning warriors deserve the best care possible.

Election day will be over when you read this column, and the ballots counted. A new mayor and council will have been elected and if the attendance at all-candidate’s meetings is any indication, we should have a large number of voters turn out. To the old council, thanks again for serving. God knows it isn’t the money that makes you endure sleepless nights, disrespectful citizens, and the ire of so many ignorant people. Like the critics who keep asking why our downtown core hasn’t more housing built there, as though previous councils could somehow or other control this. Indeed previous councils have offered many incentives to builders but until the economic climate improves no one wants to invest.

Those armchair critics, especially in the letters to the editor column of this paper, who come down on Vernon Council and how they make decisions somehow or other forget, or possibly don’t know, that we have a long term official community plan that a lot of people contributed to and voted on and were  directly involved in, that council follows. We have just recently reviewed this plan and reaffirmed it and that is what directs council. Those critics should also know that this plan includes bike lanes and traffic reductions and spending money to make our parks and streets environmentally friendly. Check it out.

Best wishes to whoever was elected and many thanks for putting yourself forward to do this important but sometimes thankless job. And be assured some of us do truly appreciate your call to service.

A few reminders for seniors now that winter is closing in: The Good Food Box Program offers fresh produce once a month for $16 or a smaller box for $10 payable in advance on the second Wednesday of the month for pick-up on the third Thursday. Delivery is also available for $3. This is a wonderful way to make sure we get the fruits and veggies we need at an affordable price. Call Diane at 306-7800 for info.; Meals on Wheels provides a three-course hot meal delivered three times a week by volunteers from the Schubert Centre for $6 per meal. Call 549-4201 for info.; the Rec Centre provides a 75 per cent discount to seniors receiving Guaranteed Income Supplement for most programs. Call 250-550-3672.

If you have any comments or questions e-mail: blackmail1@telus.net or call 250-542-7928.

Pat Black writes about issues of concern to seniors in the North Okanagan, appearing every other Sunday.