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A soldier's death

Each year, for the most part, Remembrance Day has been about those who have fallen in war fighting on behalf of their country.

In the past 10 years, the tradition of Canada as a peacekeeping force has been somewhat nullified by the notion that we are a "warrior state," first and foremost ready, able to fight in combat.

Yet in the most recent war in Afghanistan, clearly one third of our 158 casualties did not come on the battlefield, but were the result of suicide. Usually, these deaths followed the internal battles of returning soldiers dealing with PTSD. These casualties should not go unnoticed by either the government, or the public who come to today's Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The War Within

Is the soul of a warrior no more

when his country's at peace, not war?

Where is the enemy he serves to kill,

his raison d'être, his duty, his will?

No longer a rifle he finds at his side.

No longer the glory, the medals, the pride,

With peace now upon us

This warrior has died.

David Wood, Mildmay, Ont.


Historically, the rate of suicide in the military has been lower than in the general population. However, Canadian veterans are now twice as likely to die by suicide as the general population.

Retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire (Canada Must Do More Than Remember – Nov. 5), offered several recommendations that would improve the care that soldiers receive after returning from war. Other preventative measures include: shorter, less frequent deployments, more rigorous screening of new recruits for mental health concerns, ensuring social support systems are set up before and after service.

To reduce suicides, factors that put soldiers at risk of suicide must be reduced. The Canadian Forces Expert Panel on Suicide Prevention recommends: implementing a standard quality review after each suicide; collecting more comprehensive information on individual suicides to support future suicide surveillance; developing a protocol for mitigating suicide for personnel who are under investigation for legal or disciplinary problems; exploring opportunities for means reduction for suicides with service firearms and medications.

Bringing attention to the issue of military suicides is an important step in pressuring the Forces to take real, tangible action toward reducing suicide. The Centre for Suicide Prevention commends The Globe and Mail for bringing attention to the issue and Mr. Dallaire for his ongoing advocacy for veteran mental health.

Crystal Walker, Centre for Suicide Prevention


War, resisted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is struggling to choose the priorities that will define his vision for Canada. I would like to propose a path that was supported by an all-party resolution as far back as 2009 and, according to the last Gallup Poll, is supported by two-thirds of Canadians.

In 1969, Pierre Trudeau's government announced that desertion from another country's military would no longer affect an applicant's wish to emigrate here. This opened the door to thousands of U.S. soldiers, who, like me, were desperate to join the tens of thousands of draft-resisters who had already sought sanctuary in Canada.

Today, unknown numbers of U.S. Army servicemen and women live here, many of them underground, who volunteered to serve in Iraq, only to learn, with the rest of us, that there were no weapons of mass destruction, that they'd been lied to, and exposed to horrific breaches in the rules of war.

The Harper government deported three of these war resisters, all returned to face courts-martial and harsh sentences. Ottawa's lawyers continue to pursue cases against war resisters whose only wish is to raise their families here.

I've written a politician only once – Jean Chrétien, thanking him for refusing to join George Bush's Coalition of the Willing. I hope to write a second time – to thank Justin Trudeau for embracing his father's legacy in calling off these dogs of war.

Andy Barrie, Toronto


Carding crackdown

Re Will Carding Crackdown Tie Officers' Hands? (Nov. 10): Marcus Gee does not address, regardless of whether carding is useful, how the practice of aggressively stopping and questioning citizens without reason fits into a free and open society. He cites a crime-solving example involving carding. How often has carding been critical in solving crimes? Where are the police statistics on this? As has been said, "The plural of anecdote is not data."

Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant is disingenuous in the extreme when he says: "Are we tying the hands of officers by saying 'You can't even stop to talk to people?' Well, that's wrong."

It is not the police who are stopping to talk, it is citizens who are being stopped to be questioned.

If police find that people don't want to chat with them, they should first look in the mirror for reasons.

Marc Grushcow, Toronto


A judge, judged

Re Judge Faces Disciplinary Review Over Handling Of Rape Case (Nov. 10): Facing justified outrage at his actions, Justice Robin Camp has offered to take take gender sensitivity counselling. No amount of counselling can ever repair the damage to our ability to trust this judge's impartiality. What he should be offering to do is to resign. Immediately.

Helen Anderson, Edmonton


It was with a growing sense of disbelief and outrage that I read about the comments made by Judge Robin Camp to the alleged 19-year-old victim in a sexual assault case (Myths And Stereotypes: Some Judges Just Don't Get It – Nov. 9). Just one shocking example was: "Why couldn't you just keep your knees together?"

Really? Wow. Imagine how much confidence in the justice system that inspires.

And the punchline? In one of their last gifts to the nation, the Conservatives appointed this guy to the Federal Court of Appeal.

Penny Bertrand, Ottawa


Older, here I come

I have read two male writers' laments in The Globe lately about the sad fate of being sixtysomething. These gentlemen should put their inflated egos in early retirement and enjoy the privileges of growing older.

I will soon be 85: I have two new knees, two hearing aids, and new lenses for my eyes. I sing in two choirs, belong to two book clubs, walk my dog three times a day and love the company of family and friends. Life is good. Relax and join the company of those of us who live every moment with gratitude and thanksgiving. Simone Weil tells us that our true identity is about giving up our imaginary position as the centre of the universe and finding that the true centre is everywhere.

And please tell Margaret Wente that I am not planning to fall off the cliff any time soon (The Age Of Unretirement – Nov. 10).

Joan Sisler Wells, Welland, Ont.

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