You may have seen him protesting outside the liberal campaign office over the last two weeks. In the lead up to the 2019 election, veteran Mike McNeil and his children are protesting for veteran’s rights and standing up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government over the unfair treatment of veterans.
I caught up with Mike and his daughter Olivia the other day as they were protesting and they had an interesting tale to tell.
For those of you who don’t know, McNeil is an Afghanistan veteran who experienced life-changing injuries in 2009 after driving over an improvised explosive device (IED). As a result of those injuries he suffers from a number of medical problems including a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
According to McNeil, his reasons for protesting are twofold.
First, there is his never-ending battle for treatment and benefits with the bureaucracy at Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC). He’s not only standing up for himself but for all injured veterans. McNeil relates that years of fighting for benefits from VAC has put a tremendous strain on his recovery and he knows he's not the only veteran out there going through this.
Secondly, McNeil takes issue with Justin Trudeau’s 2018 comment that veterans were “asking for more than we are able to give right now”, when Trudeau was asked by a veteran at a town hall why his government was still fighting veterans in court, despite promising to end the court battles during the 2015 election campaign.
At the local level, McNeil is also frustrated with Liberal MP Anthony Rota who he says has not been honest with the media recently when he told reporters that McNeil had not brought his concerns to him in the past. McNeil says that is untrue and that he in fact “sat down with him 3-4 times” bringing his issues directly to the local MP, but Rota “never once got back to me”.
Speaking with Mike and other veterans with disabilities, it is apparent that when someone is in pain 24/7, life is harder. Normal day-to-day activities can seem like climbing a mountain sometimes. But it is important to remember that this pain doesn’t just affect the veteran, it impacts their entire family. That’s why the McNeil children have been out there supporting not just their dad, but all the veterans and their families across Canada.
These brave kids were given an opportunity to share their feelings so I thought I'd close out this story with some of their final thoughts:
Scarlett (12) – Trudeau “made veterans a promise. My father gives me trouble when I lie, why is it okay for him?”
Olivia (11) - We can get through this if we get another prime minister that cares for veterans and get the right treatment.
Tristan (11) - Keep fighting and don’t give up