Kenny Crawford survived the battlefields of World War Two. Now the 85-year-old is fighting for his quality of life.
Crawford was stationed in Britain during the Blitz. When he returned from the war, he did not need much help. He was able to raise his family. But, as he began to grow old, his health began to fail and Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) was slow to lend a hand.
That’s when Carol Jones and the Canadian Legion stepped in.
Jones brings a lifetime of experience and passion in preserving the spirit of Canada’s war survivors. She’s been a member of the Canadian Legion for the past nine years. She’s spent her entire life living amongst Canada’s veterans.
Her father dropped depth charges off a corvette for the duration of World War Two. He came back to a country that had minimal health or benefit programs for its veterans. Like many others, he dealt with the psychological effects of war.
“The first thing that he did when he got home was burn his uniform,” Jones said. “He used to have nightmares where he was screaming in his sleep.” Jones believes her father had post-traumatic stress disorder “but they didn’t have a term for it back then.”
Her father worked through his troubles and became a regular at Branch #16 of the Legion in South Vancouver. He participated in many of the Legion activities, which fostered a strong sense of veteran culture. “I used to sit with my mom and dad at the meat draws and there were tables of us, this place used to hop! That was 20 to 30 years ago,” Jones added.
Because of her familiarity with the Legion community, Jones helps veterans procure the aid and benefits that they need.
With survivors of the two World Wars and the Korean War reaching old age, they depend upon government assistance through health and benefit plans.
“They sacrificed everything that they have, and I feel that the Afghan vets or anybody in the military should be taken care of to the best of the governments’ ability that includes healthcare, day-care for service personnel, housing, pensions,” Jones said.
When her father urgently required aid from VAC, “all the aid he got was a hearing aid for his hearing loss,” Jones recalls. VAC concluded that his loss of hearing was from his work as an ironworker eliminating his chances of receiving a pension and most other benefits that veterans with disabilities would receive from the government.
“I got nowhere; absolutely nowhere, and I know that there are veterans in this club that get services from Veterans Affairs all the time,” said Jones.
“Dealing with Veterans Affairs is not necessarily easy; I don’t know how else to explain it without being downright rude,” Jones joked.
Jones now uses her experience with her father’s case at Veterans Affairs to help other veterans like Crawford get the aid and benefits needed. “The Legion is very good and they work right along with Vets Affairs,” said Crawford. He got the help he needed thanks to the work done by Jones and the Legion.
“You can’t beat Vets Affairs, they certainly took care of me and anybody I know, that’s under their jurisdiction. I’m speaking honestly, they’re very good,” said Crawford. “I’m a little hard of hearing and I get a pension from the [VAC]. They’re good enough to me, they give me enough for me to get my drugs, what more do I want?”
The government does not advertise VAC programs. According to Joanne Hoy, the manager of Branch #16, it was up to the Legion to promote and inform veterans about the aid and benefits that they could receive from the government.
In notifying and helping veterans procure the benefits that they need as they approach old age, Jones’ and the Legion’s work aims to preserve a sense of culture and pride in today’s veteran community. “They [Carol and Joanne] would see one way or the other, they will get the help,” Crawford said.
In the continuing efforts to provide the aid deserving of Canadian veterans, Jones says, “we’ve got to keep on plucking away, and I’m like my dad, I never give up.”