Former soldiers camp out in Ottawa to demand respect, better services

Former soldiers camp out in Ottawa to demand respect, better services
From CBC - February 12, 2018

Two former Canadian soldiers have set up camp beneath the veterans memorial buildings in downtown Ottawa, hoping to draw attention to their frustration with the federal government's treatment of veterans.

Trevor Sanderson and Dick Groot arrived in Ottawa Friday after driving from Winnipeg.

Since then, they have spent their days and nights in the tents they have erected at the corner of Wellington and Lyon streets, near the East and West Memorial Buildings.

Braving the cold temperatures and blowing snow, theyplanto camp out until Thursday, when a larger protest calling for improvements to veterans services is scheduled to take place on Parliament Hill.

Sanderson said he hopes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hear and respond to the group's grievances.

"We are not asking for a lot," he said. "We are only asking to feel normal again."

'Broken' system

Sandersonsaidhe has lived with PTSDfor close to 25 years, tracing it back to a training exercise from his time with Princess Patricia's Light Canadian Infantry at CFBCalgary.

"My normal for mewaking up every dayis my body hurting ...never knowing whether or not I am going to have an anxiety attack ...not being able to enjoy being with family and friends," he said.

Like Sanderson,Groot said he also hasPTSD, first triggered by a training exercise during his service as a reservist in Saskatoon.

"We want to go back to being human," he said.

Groot describes his experience with the veteranbenefits system as frightful, remembering feelingtotally abandoned by the country he set out to serve.

"When I did go to the system, everything went crazy," he said, describingwait times and a crippling lack of treatment options.

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