Reservists deserve better

Kamloops Daily News
November 23, 2012 01:00 AM

The commanding officer of the Rocky Mountain Rangers was most gracious in his response to a followup report from the military ombudsman.

Of Pierre Daigle's 12 recommendations made in 2008 about reservists' access to medical care and administrative support, just four have been implemented, six were partially achieved and there was no movement on two.

The "undone" category included the important recommendation that reservists be paid the same benefits as members of the regular forces if they lose a limb on duty in Canada. This means someone in the reserves - like the Rocky Mountain Rangers in Kamloops - who was maimed would only receive 40 per cent of what full-time soldiers receive in benefits.

"There seems to be two classes of soldiers in the Canadian Forces, and this is disappointing," said Daigle.

Lt.-Col Kevin Tyler, commanding officer of the RMRang, however, opted to focus on the positive, noting things have vastly improved over the past two decades in terms of support systems put in place for soldiers who return from combat operations with health issues.

The regiment has a long history of augmenting the regular forces, having served in the Boer War (1899-1902), both the First and Second world wars, Korea, Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan.

On the home front, the Rangers act as reserve forces in emergency situations like the local wildfires of 2003, and other reservists across the country lend support when there's floods (Manitoba), ice storms (Eastern Canada), hurricane relief efforts (Newfoundland and Labrador) or other disasters in their communities.

So while reservists are certainly more apt to lose a limb while on a mission in an unstable country abroad, the work they do here can lend its own perils.

A spokesperson for Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Wednesday the issue of reservists receiving less pay for accidental dismemberment will be addressed.

High time. It's shameful that it took another prod from the military ombudsman - four years later - to move the federal government to action on such a glaring inequity for those who are willing give up so much to serve our country.

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