From the Desk of Don Slinger Issue 43

Summer 2002 CSANews Issue 43  |  Posted date : Apr 06, 2007.Back to list

Remember that refrain from many years ago? Well, back on May 10 ­12, 2002, an energetic committee from Guelph organized a 100th anniversary party for former students and teachers of Macdonald Consolidated Public School.

This committee worked so hard that they succeeded in bringing more than 400 folks to dinner on Saturday night at the John McCrae Legion Hall. Lots of history was recalled that weekend.

This public school reunion held a special meaning for me. I am one of eight kids and we all graduated to schools of higher learning. Two brothers and one sister remained in the area and their kids also graduated from Macdonald.

Many of our after-dinner speakers recalled some amusing anecdotes. Almost all referred to the "strap" as a disciplinary tool, and I'm not aware of any student suffering an inferiority complex because of it.

My most memorable recollection from Macdonald happened in grade one. We were playing softball at recess and one of my classmates swung at the ball ­ missed it ­ and let the bat fly. It caught me on the bridge of my nose and the teacher guessed that it was broken. The doctor confirmed this fact and said that there wasn't much to be done for it. He said that it wasn't serious as I could still breathe through it ­ just lucky, I guess.

My hat goes off to the committee members who put the program together. A wonderful time was had by all.

New Subjects, New Twist.
Many seniors have extolled the virtues of being members of the CSA. I want to add another that might be useful to many of our members who are veterans from previous wars.

When I was discharged from the army in 1946, the doctors concluded that I was hard of hearing and awarded me with a hearing aid. This required a headband to hold the aid behind my ear, a receiver the size of a cell phone that clipped onto an undershirt, and two batteries that filled my back pocket. This was great for me and I was able to graduate from university with my improved hearing. I have been wearing a hearing aid for 56 years. I have owned several and each time I needed a new one, the price had jumped higher.

That was the background. And, now ­ the rest of the story.

Since the CSA began 10 years ago, Beth and I have attended every information meeting in Port Charlotte. Friends of ours lived in Maple Leaf Estates and we frequently stayed overnight. When our friend realized that I received no army pension, he contacted another friend in the park who worked with the legion. We met at the CSA meeting the next day and he made some background notes. He suggested that he would pass these on to his friend in Windsor and that I should contact him when I returned to Canada.

I did. He had retrieved my files from the archives in Ottawa and advised me that my file stated that I was pensionable. All these years had gone by with no government support and no retroactivity ­ otherwise, I would be rich today. The Department of Veterans Affairs bought me hearing aids and provided a pension.

The thought occurred to me that there may be many other veterans who have ailments that are attributable to service time, but may not be aware that there could be help available. I learned only by chance.

My recommendation to anyone who may feel aggrieved because of the lack of direction is to contact any branch of The Royal Canadian Legion and ask how to get someone to examine your file ­ you could be pleasantly surprised.

Veteran Affairs Canada publishes a newsletter called "Salute." My Spring 2002 copy arrived on June 25/02. On the front page of this issue, there is an article headlined "help us Improve our Services." The body of the article states, "We are in the process of updating our service standards in order to better serve you. If you are interested in participating in a telephone opinion poll on our service standards, please call our toll-free number 1-866-209-1380 before June 15, 2002. Your opinion is important to us." Needless to say, I didn't call because the newsletter arrived 10 days after the deadline.

The guidelines are being improved regularly and there are 35 revised entitlement eligibility guidelines which help determine if someone is entitled to a VAC disability pension. The Web site is www.vac-acc.gc.ca

If only one veteran can qualify for a pension or an upgrade based on this outline, then it has been time well spent writing it.

And a final note: Opportunities are never lost ­ someone will take the ones you miss.

God Bless!