Should soldiers' children get special scholarships? -

Should soldiers’ children get special scholarships?

Answer: no.


Faculty members  at the University of Regina have come out against the University’s adoption of “Project Hero,” a program by which scholarships are provided to children of those who have died while serving in the Canadian military.

Related: Should soldiers’ children get special scholarships? Answer: yes.

One can almost hear the outrage before it is even spoken: Canadian soliders are heroes, people will say. They put their lives at risk for us everyday, and we must do everything we can to support our brave men and women in uniform.

This kind of thinking is so widespread, I’m sure many people accept it as an unquestionable article of faith. To them, the U of R faculty must seem perverse, if not diabolical, in their thinking. But I’m with the profs on this one.

To be sure, military life, especially life in a combat zone, cannot be easy. One does not have to be a soldier to know that it’s hard, dirty, dangerous work, often done a world away from home, and often done in the defense of our highest principles. For the record, I don’t oppose Canada’s operations in Afghanistan, and I’m proud of my fellow Canadians who are trying to bring hope to a region where hope is in short supply.

But let’s not let all that blind us to the reality of military conflict. Our soldiers are not just there putting their lives on the line. They are there killing people. That’s why they have guns. That’s what armies do. That’s why they call it war. Don’t get me wrong: it may be necessary, but if it is, it is a necessary evil.

And that’s why I can’t support things like Project Hero. It implies that military officers have a special status simply by virtue of being in the military. It suggests that the whole class of people is to be venerated, and that military service is a special calling to which only a select group of heroes can aspire. And if the military is always to be honoured, then the things that they are called upon to do are inherently honorable, and that, in the end, is to glorify war and its attendant violence. The fact that Project Hero provides funds for the children of dead soldiers has to imply what Wilfred Owen famously termed the old lie: that it is sweet and noble to die for one’s country.

Yes, members of the military do hard jobs that are dangerous and important. But so do police, and firefighters, and lots of other people. Even professors have died in the line of duty. Let’s be grateful to those who serve in uniform, but let’s do them the honour of treating them honestly in the process.


Should soldiers’ children get special scholarships?

  1. Another day, another reason I’m angry that I ever defended you scum. We should have let the Soviets, Germans, Taliban, or whoever have the lot of you.

  2. No! I do NOT support baby killers and war criminals

    • You are neither a conservative nor a liberal nor a libertarian or a communist. You are just plain bored, and think that the best way to deal is to really piss people off. It is people like you, sir that have brought this great nation to a state of dysfunction.


  3. Where are the scholarships for the children of the father’s and mother’s we have murdered and assassinated in Afghanistan.

    Canada OWES those children


  4. This isn’t that special. In the UK many soldiers widows will get money from the State Social Security will kick in to help pay schooling and University Fees.

    It is really a publicity stunt by the Sask Tory party to try to deflect attention away from the deficit they have run up in only two years.

    Last time round it took the Sask Tories twenty years of overspending, corruption and nepotism before bringing Saskatchewan to its knees.

    Harper is up to the same tricks his very successful Oh! Canada stunt. Now he is scapegoating some criminal in an attempt to deflect attention from some pretty shocking numbers regarding the economy.

  5. Todd Pettigrew,

    You are the lowest of the lowest. If you are going to comment or reprint a story you should tell the readers all the facts.

    Well here is the rest of the story;(Link below)

    The sixteen professors at U of R and the ring leader Webber made a comparison that to be killed in action for your country is the same as a workplace industrial accident. Here is his quote: Webber said it’s not that they are against helping the children of the Canadian military. “Why stop at the question of dependents of Canadian Forces personnel? There’s all kinds of people who are killed in workplace accidents,” he said.

    Read more:

    But then Todd, you have “Freedom of the Press,” I wonder who gave you that right – Comrade Pettigrew

  6. The reason I support the scholarship is not based on the heroism of the men and women who die serving our country though I. personally, see them in that light. Rather, it is to financially and emotionally support the many Canadian children who lose a mother or father often to soon in both their lives and to show why they and most other Canadians can be proud of them for having put their life on the line to the ultimate degree for their country.

    The money should be easy to come up with when we stop giving pensions to criminals such as Clifford Olsen, etal.

  7. i disagree with the premises of this article in that it focuses on the behavior of soldiers and not the massive negative sociological, physiological and emotional effect the death of a solider has on his or her family and children. This article is simply insensitive and is selfishly acting out of no other reason then the fact that someone is receiving a privilege they are not. good day sir.

  8. Scholarships are often awarded for financial need. This program will help to improve morale among our troops in Afghanistan. And we should indeed be venerating our soldiers, because the people they’re trying to kill happen to be evil enemies of civilization. Soldiers fighting on behalf of democratic nations against aggressors are every bit as uncontroversial as police officers, at least among people with any sense.

    We should never forget September 11, 2001, nor should we ever forget the many women in Afghanistan who died through lack of access to medical care.

  9. The name “Project Hero” is disgustingly jingoistic. It does glorify war, plain and simple. I am in total agreement with the profs on this point. Frankly, anyone who cannot see that calling a war scholarship “Project HERO” glorifies war must be unfamiliar with the English language and what the words ‘hero’ and ‘glorify’ actually mean.

    However, suppose the scholarship had a less pro-war name, such as, “Project Remembrance”. Would the scholarship still be open to criticism? In particular, the profs suggest that it’s wrong to give a scholarship to students that have had a parent die while serving in the military, as there are many other students whose parents have died in other vocations who are equally deserving and who don’t receive any scholarships. The problem with this reasoning is that there are many scholarships offered by universities that exclude students based on criteria which may not seem fair. Such criteria usually include things like sex, ethnicity, or the high school previously attended. Are these scholarships also bad? Would the profs argue against them, too? I suspect not, yet reasoning similar to what the profs use against Project Hero dictates that these scholarships should also be eliminated.

    I think whoever is in charge of Project Hero should change its name. This would go a long way to addressing the problems with the scholarship. “Project Remembrance” is as good a name as any, and I think much better captures the purpose of the scholarship. The other criticisms leveraged against the scholarship would still be open to debate, but I suspect there would be fewer people objecting to it.

  10. Thanks to everyone for the thoughtful engagement on this difficult issue.

    As I said, the response would be predictable.

    Now Regina’s MP dares to suggest that it is “inappropriate” for professors to criticize the military. You see? This is what happens when you create a special category for warriors: the state can claim that military matters are beyond criticism, giving themselves a free hand to wage war as they see fit.

    To the Regina Sixteen, I say don’t back down. I may not agree with you point-for-point, but it is your right as Canadians, and your duty as public intellectuals, to criticize your institution and your country when called for.

  11. Very interesting entry! Professor Pettigrew, I sincerely appreciate that you tackle some hard issues in your posts knowing that your not-quite-conventional opinion will generate some fierce rebuttal. No doubt that your fan club at TWU will probably be commenting soon enough.

    This is why society needs university professors- to always question the norm. It’s no coincidence that professors are the first people to disappear once liberty is threatened. Although I disagree with your position, I understand and appreciate your argument.

    That being said, I disagree. Like you previously mentioned, the military is a necessary evil. Military action creates casualties, and it can disadvantage the children of these casualties. This program makes sense because it tackles this problem that society must face. I’m not ready to accept that project hero will result in the government waging war beyond criticism. That’s a pretty slippery slope. I’m sure we can give these kids a leg-up without having the blackshirts marching through the streets.

  12. When a military member is killed in the line of duty they are given much monies from Veteran Affairs, military life insurance, military pay and can well afford to pay for their children to attend university. People have to realize that we have to pay for our own children and not expect handouts.

  13. Jacynthe, do you have a source? How much does the family actually get?

  14. Professor Todd:

    “But let’s not let all that blind us to the reality of military conflict. Our soldiers are not just there putting their lives on the line. They are there killing people. That’s why they have guns. That’s what armies do. That’s why they call it war. Don’t get me wrong: it may be necessary, but if it is, it is a necessary evil.”

    OK professor….I don’t think a soldier wakes up in the morning and says, I think I will go to some exotic distant land, meet some exciting and unusual people and kill them. Rather, I would be just slightly inclined to believe the government of the day(s) had a great deal to do with this decision. There is enough blame to go around for both the “Left and the Right”.

    If I recall, servicemen who returned home after the Second World War earned credits to either build a home, or go to University. Since these soldiers serving in Afghanistan will not be returning, I think it is the only reasonable thing to do.

    As for Jacynthe……”You are out to lunch”….if all else fails, research, research, research.

  15. I agree with the comment by Tim Sandals on 26 March 2010:

    The name “Project Hero” is disgustingly jingoistic.
    “Project Remembrance” is as good a name as any, and I think much better captures the purpose of the scholarship.

  16. For financial reasons alone, soldiers’ children should get special scholarships — not just those serving in harm’s way, and not just officers’ children. I find it difficult to believe that any armed forces’ personnel of sargeant’s rank or lower can afford to put a single child through university on their military pay alone.
    People who think war can by glorified must watch too many movies.

  17. Military Conflict – war – is just that: Conflict. It is dirty, dangerous business. Given that these comments come from the U of R is hardly surprising. I am a proud graduate of the U of S, which is somewhat more enlightened and where I learned to analyze situations reasonably and fairly.

    Those few who adhere to the view espoused may believe fairness means comparing policemen and firemen to soldiers. It is a weak comparison. Some of these civilians do die at work. As a country we would be horrified if 150 or so of these civilians died in a matter of a few years battling crime and fire. The vast majority live very nicely thank you very much and enjoy long, publicly supported retirements. This is not to demean their efforts. I applaud them – but they are not the same as what a soldier in Afghanistan faces minute by minute.

    I am not in the military and know very few who are. Why would anyone risk their life and future to battle an enemy in this fashion? I suggest it is because they believe in a cause and a concept – true freedom: freedom which is necessary if the civilians are to enjoy their lives and future (and retirement pensions) here.

    To ignore the ugliness of war is naive in the extreme. To ignore the worse reality of the even uglier results of 9/11 in the form of a radical and impossible to rationalize mentality more wicked than Nazism at its worst is not naive – it is misguided. If the thousands of soldiers involved (from many countries) were to simply walk away and not ever fire another shot at this evil I wonder if the intellectual elite or the comfortable others would take up the sword and stare down insanity? On the contrary – departing warriors who walked away because of this nonsense argument would mean the insanity would spread beyond anything seen to date. I wonder then what might happen to the thoughts of Canadians when the next 9/11 event dislodged this ridiculous thinking? This is classically pious, shortsighted ivory tower thinking. (would any of these ‘brave’ civilian Canadians ever risk life and limb over IEDs or snipers?)

    These children deserve this honor – what is happening to their mothers and fathers can never be repaid and if we think this small (think of the actual cost vs the ‘other’ waste in the country) token of appreciation is too large we have truly lost our way as a country.

  18. One way to expand the scholorships is to start charging University Professors etc. tuition for their childeren attending their university. Think it over again guys on your long summers or next sebatical. And all this without risking your necks for your country. Shame on you.

  19. Do I defend the professor’s right to his opinions? Yes.

    Do I agree with his opinion? Yes, and, No.

    Simple: I agree in scholarships based on financial need, not on the mere basis of who or what someone else was or did.
    Example: Soldier “A” has no kids. Should he not be able to “Will” the scholarship to a friend’s kid? Er, well, that’s a tough one!
    Soldier “B” has no eligible kids. So, does a grandson (his kids are too old) qualify? Nephew? Etc. Again, tough question!
    Note that the scheme could involve anyone. Why not kids of dead firemen, cops, stockbrokers, hairdressers, politicians…. You see the dangerous slope, do you not?

    How about this solution:

    If YOU with YOUR money, want to give a sum to establish a “legal” scholarship for anyone, and you donate to the cause. Then I support your right to do so. Should the government reward you for your good deal? No. Why? It is your business.

    Should the government put money into a scholarship for vet’s kids fund? No more, no less, than they do for other scholarships.

    There you go. Nice and fair.

    If you need help (not a mere handout) we help you, within reason. If you do not need help, we do not help. But neither do we hinder.

    Next question, please.

  20. I wholeheartedly disagree with the contentions of this author. First off, the title is wrong – we are talking about the children of soldiers killed in the line of duty, not just any soldiers. For Jacinthe – you have no idea what you are talking abut. Pay stops on death but there may be some pension benefits. My wife would get 50% of my pension if I were to die. The “military life insurance” you mention is call the Supplementary Death Benefit and is paid for by the service personnel, like any insurance policy. The Pay? You can’t be serious; I was flying over Bosnia in an unarmed aircraft being tracked by surface-to-air missiles on the same pay as some mill workers near where I now live – and they were on strike for more. Happily, I survived my military service but my children had a different school for every single year of high school – and no scholarships for them despite being disadvantaged by my career. People, including this author, have the right to spout positions I feel to be totally unsupportable; the UofR professors can do that too, but they cannot advocate willful discrimination against the children of deceased soldiers. That is what they are doing by trying to deny the scholarships and that is contemptible and crosses the line.

  21. Todd Pettigrew says:

    “You see? This is what happens when you create a special category for warriors: the state can claim that military matters are beyond criticism, giving themselves a free hand to wage war as they see fit.”

    I say:

    Oh for Christ’s, Todd. The state–and anybody else–can say whatever it wants. It has the same freedom you do to express stupid opinions, and it had it long before the U of R implemented this policy.

    I’m pretty anti-military myself, but even I can see the merit of this. The kids of soldiers have no say in what happens to their parents. They just go through the trauma of losing a parent way too young. They deserve a good shot at landing on their feet in adulthood. And sure, why not kids of firefighters and cops too?

    If you don’t want soldiers getting “special treatment” then you’d better pack up and ship off to Afghanistan, because right now, that’s a special perk they’re getting that you appear to be deprived of.

  22. SCHOLARSHIP should ONLY offer to those WHOMSELF is outstanding.

    The soldiers themself are kind of employees of the politicians and paid fully by taxpayers – if there is any kind of sacrifice, it is to those politicians not the public.

    If any person who support the WAR, include the politicians, who should make such contribution from their OWN POCKET.

    Why should the politicians earn big money and ask the miserable public to do their favor??

  23. What an embarrassment! It should be no surprise to anyone that the massively liberal and left leaning wacko professors of this country would lean in this direction. This is where we send our kids off to to be indoctrinated in the liberal mentality.
    And to think in this day and age that the bravest of the brave, can still be called “baby killers” and “war criminals” is something to be ashamed of. Professors are opposed to the “special status” that they perceive being given to the children of these fallen heroes at the same time preaching from their ivory pulpits with total immunity. They object to the “special status” of others but require it to spew the crap that they “teach” our children and remain untouched under the guise of education.
    Professors enjoy freedoms purchased for them by the blood of these “fallen heroes” yet are too high and mighty to realize it, free education for their kids, summers off at their cottages, total immunity to preach whatever crap they choose with no consequences for the “hate speech”, your welcome profs, your an embarrassment to Canadians

  24. Outstanding Bill Malcolm! Very well said.

  25. Don’t children of single parent families get scholarships from universities based on financial need? How is this program any diferent? It just happens to single out single parent families of people serving in the armed forces. Do people have to play politics with everything in this country?

  26. Chris, you answer your own question. This kind of scholarship is different because it implies a special status to a certain class of people. As for playing politics, the way our society thinks about the military is not beyond or above politics; indeed, it is one of our most important political questions.

  27. Gee, Todd, have you applied this same logic to wide range of scholarships already offered? What about scholarship funds set up for the children of people killed in accidents or as a result of crime?

    What about scholarships for the children of police officers or firefighters killed in the line of duty? Should those be stopped as well?

    Scholarships are set up for the children of those groups all the time. How is this different?

  28. Gee, Mikey, let me see if I can think of a difference between the military and other occupations. Let me see…oh, here’s one:

    In no other legal occupation is a key part of the job DELIBERATELY SEEKING OUT AND KILLING PEOPLE.

  29. I have to admit, as someone with an aunt (my mom’s sister) and both grandfathers with extensive military service, I never would have questioned the assumption that Canadian soldiers are heroes who put their lives at risk for us everyday and that “we must do everything we can to support our brave men and women in uniform.”

    Until now.

    As Professor Pettigrew has already pointed out, many people do accept it as an unquestionable article of faith that this support must be unconditional, perhaps even blind. I can understand why for some, those professors at the U of R must “seem perverse, if not diabolical, in their thinking.” But after reading what Professor Pettigrew wrote about the issue, and thinking it over (and much debate with some family members and friends) I’m with the profs on this one now, too.

    In fact, I think it was brave of those professors (and Professor Pettigrew as well) to risk the inevitable attacks they’ll continue to receive for taking such an unpopular stance. It’s easy to support the notion that we must do everything we can to support the brave men and women in uniform. Not so easy to speak out (risking the wrath and contempt of an adoring public who, in some cases, perhaps haven’t given much thought to the implications of supporting a scholarship which does mean supporting a military stance) and ask the question: Do universities have any business offering financial support to anything (or anyone) connected to the military?

    Some people have pointed out that it’s because of democracy (earned through military ‘action’) that people like Professor Pettigrew now have freedom of speech, and therefore his stance is seemingly somehow ungrateful. But those professors at the U of R and Professor Pettigrew obviously don’t have freedom of speech if in the end, they only have the freedom to parrot back what’s considered “acceptable.”

    As a university student, I not only support those university professor’s right to protest the scholarships, I also agree with it. And applaud their bravery for taking such a public stance.

  30. >In no other legal occupation is a key part of the job DELIBERATELY SEEKING OUT AND KILLING PEOPLE

    In the words of the Governator from True Lies.

    “Yeah, but they were all bad”