National Security Minister Jack Warner has praised the early contributions of military and para-military personnel, saying they should not be left to suffer after their contribution to the country.
"We live in the country where I get the impression that it is difficult to say thanks. It is difficult for us to say thanks for a job well done. We are the biggest critics in the world, we criticise from captain to cook," he said.
Warner was speaking at the National Security Pioneers and Innovators awards ceremony on Monday night at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad.
"Have we assured them that their pension is taken care of? The time when you need your pension the most is not when you are young, it is when you begin to get old. Have we taken care of them as we should?" he asked
"These are difficult times to save money...even in a credit union. I did not even know I had so much money," he said referring to an exclusive story in the Express which stated that Warner had $.6 million in the Teachers' Credit Union which he did not declare to the Integrity Commission.
Warner said the same people who served the country, were now entering a time when medication was expensive.
"A list can go on and on and there has been a time of monumental neglect. Thank God it is being corrected today," he said.
The awards function, conceptualised by Warner, awarded retired security personnel who were involved in the protective services in the 1970s and 1980s as part of the 50 years of Independence.
"We know how to destroy, how to break up and not how to build, not how to sustain and worse yet how to say thanks," he said.
Warner said when the idea arose that the country should say thanks to the security innovators, he readily agreed and then convinced Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar that she should attend.
"I convinced the Prime Minister that she had a role to play," he said.
Persad-Bissessar said while heroes have been immortalised in calypso, they have been neglected, overlooked and forgotten for the most part.
"However this must change," she said.
"These contributions have allowed us to take a quantum leap towards development which were it not for your efforts, we would have been light years away," she said.
Persad-Bissessar also received a commemorative medal to mark the 50th year of Independence at the ceremony.