Be advised that the Canadians Veterans Advocacy has been engaged on a variety of levels both with Veterans Affairs Canada, the Department of National Defense, Minister Blaney's 0ffice and parliamentarians from both opposition parties. There has also been substantial dialogue with Wayne Johnson of Wounded Warriors re mental heath, Richard Blackwolf, Canadians Aboriginal Veterans and Serving members Association, Yvan Thauvette, president, Union of Veterans Affairs Employees and the presidents of a recently formed alliance between the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, CAVUNP, the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and the NATO Veterans Association.
Canadians Veterans Alliance. Last month, the presidents/ reps from four stakeholder veterans organizations met in Ottawa at the National War Museum to discuss issues that are common to our organizations advocacy mandates and form a united front wherein our message would be heard, not ignored, by the government. Although preliminary, certain issues were identified, including the Lump Sum Award, the Widows, VIP and reform to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. The LSA and Widows were proposed by the CVA and I am very pleased to note that, after discussions, they were universally accepted. I am hopeful that CVA supporters will see this as a positive step forward and understand these issues are of a priority nature and alliances at the stakeholder level allows us to engage collectively on very important subjects. More to follow as the situation develops.
Vigil for Veterans - Thursday, November 8th, Parliament Hill, 1500 hours.
IMPORTANT NOTIFICATION! There has been a change in the timings due to conflict of interest issues for those wishing to attend/speak but have committed to local Remembrance Day events over the course of the R-Day weekend. Equally important for our objectives, Parliament will be sitting on Thursday and there will be an opportunity for attending veterans to speak to supportive Canadians and parliamentarians about the consequences of the New Veterans Charter and request their support for substantive reforms. The Budget Day/ D-Day Vigil format proved very successful and we shall follow the same principles by meeting beside the National War Memorial at the park benches near the Wellington and Elgin intersection between 1230-1315 and then move in an orderly fashion to front of the Peace Tower in time to meet the with parliamentarians prior to Question Period. There will be brief speeches followed by a special tribute rendition of Oh Canada wherein we shall, together, sing in honour of Canada's sons and daughters who have suffered the consequences of war and peace in our name.
On this day, we pay tribute to the living, to those who came home forever changed by war and forced to adapt to a new way of living for the rest of their lives. On this day, we pay tribute to the mothers and fathers who sent their children to war. On this day, we sing for the widows who have sacrificed their most treasured love, on this day, we sing for those who stood on guard for thee.
Lest we Forget.
To that end, we are looking for a professional singer to lead us and if you have had the dream, or know someone that does, of singing the National Anthem on Parliament Hill in front of a national audience, this may be your opportunity. Be advised that there will be documentary crews on site and that the event will be heavily promoted on our internet utube network. I am also confident that there will be substantial media representation, if you have a story, if you want to talk to somebody, this is your opportunity.
Veterans and their families living in the Ottawa region and beyond are encouraged to step up. Your attendance in these events is crucial to mission success on a variety of levels. And as always, bear in mind that the reforms the Canadians Veterans Advocacy are fighting for can only be attained through legislative change. We must adapt to the changing political situation, it is vital, regardless of personal political convictions, to attain the support of all parties, particularly if we fail to convince the current government prior to the next election and are potentially confronted with another minority government.
We cannot abandon this generation of Canada's sons and daughters as has our government has, not when they have sacrificed so much in this nation's name. We cannot not allow a national system to exist that compensates one veteran of catastrophic injuries with a lifetime award for pain and suffering and another, who sustained the very same horrific injuries in war, with a Chump Sum Award and a lifetime of uncertainty.
We must think of the mothers, father, sons and daughter who have sacrificed their loved ones bodies and minds to a war few understand or support. We must think of the widows and the substandard level of respect they have been accorded through the New Veterans Charter. We must think about the broken promises about reform of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, or the one made to the wounded at the height of the combat mission by General Hillier about retention within the Canadian Forces for those who have suffered serious, limb taking wounds yet are still capable of fulfilling a role within the military. WQe must think of the many who are struggling with inadequate mental health care, the suicides, the homeless veterans… and then my friends, take a deep breath and think, how would you feel if it was one of your son's, one of your daughters.
We need your voice! We need your support, if you can make it to Ottawa, your presence will make a profound difference in our quest for justice.
After the Vigil, we are also inviting veterans to join us in the galleries for Question Period during the last session prior to Remembrance Day. The CVA believes it is important that parliamentarians see our presence and understand that we, as a veterans community united under principle, have expectations for their support at all levels, particularly with degree of fatalities, mental and physical injuries that will forever enshrine this nation's commitment to the Afghanistan War once the last Canadian soldier leaves in 2014.
Ardent Dignity. I would have CVA supporters understand that this is a long term operation and this November's actions are preliminary based and focused on message. Accordingly, we are encouraging CVA supporters to engage in an awareness program in your communities during the Remembrance period. The fact that Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday this year will, hopefully, increase service attendance in your communities and provide an opportunity to speak with your mayor, local legion and veterans' association presidents about the need of preparing a Wounded Warrior Task Force capable of welcoming and assisting the wounded and their families once they are repatriated to our cities and towns.
There has been a very good response to date although, with such a vast nation and an unexpected level of apathy, it is clear that we have our work to.
What can you do? Communicate!!!!! It is that easy. Talk to your friends, reach out to your mayor and council, your local veterans associations asking for their help and leadership. When the opportunity arises, talk to your friends and family and solicit their support by sending our information to their friends. We are a grassroots organization, our ability to succeed in quests such as this is based on our ability to motivate Canadians to embrace our wounded warriors and disabled veterans and assure their quality of life once they return to our communities. We have time, there is a grace period of up to three years once the veterans is deemed incapable of passing the Universality of service standards. All things start with one step….
Veterans Affairs Canada Stakeholders meeting. The situation at VAC has changed significantly with changes from the Deputy Minister level down. Our Liaison officer these past two years has also been moved and I would take this moment to thank KM for the amazing degree of support she provided in assisting veterans with special needs and reference to ensuring we had accurate information about policies, clarifying so many issues and, most importantly, being patient and demonstrating true compassion to our veterans.
LGen Walter Semianiw will take command over the Stakeholders outreach programs. The general is still serving, I have spoken with him a couple of times but, frankly, am still in the assessment mode. There has been contact about the next meeting, however, I am very uncomfortable with the situation as it currently stands. At this point of time, the government is unwilling to provide a status report about the resolutions the stakeholders unanimously passed during the last session. Be advised that these resolutions were the culmination of five years of consultation and great public expense. I have asked repeatedly for the situation to be the first item on the agenda to no avail. The alliance members have pledged support and hopefully the remainder of the stakeholders will remain unified.
We shall see.
Remembrance Week schedule.
Nov 3rd - Legion House – National Consultations
Nov 4th – Meeting, President, UVAE
Nov 5th – Meetings MPs, Senate Remembrance ceremony, candlelight ceremony
Nov 6th – meetings DND Mental Health/ Speaker, fund raiser, Cornwall Airforce Club.
Nov 7th – meetings am, media re Vigil, rest
Nov 8th – National Press Conference, 1100 hrs. Vigil for Veterans 1330. Jubilee presentations, Question Period. Reception in PM.
Nov 9th. - Meetings am, Rest
Nov 10, - Meetings, National War Museum.
Nov 11 – National Memorial Service depending on pain levels, will either spend the night or return to Niagara Sunday evening.
Fundraising. I feel it is very important that those veterans who support our activities through financial donations see that there money is well spent and that Sylvain and I are very prudent when we are in Ottawa. Once again, the CVA command post will be set up at the Econolodge on Rideau. This is not exactly the Hilton, in fact, it is on the other end of the spectrum. The only other expenses are the gas, car and depending on what is cheapest for the task at hand, parking or a cab. Be advised that Sylvain and I pay for all of our own food, refreshments and incidentals and that our time is volunteer based. Be also advised that we are both seriously disabled and only ask for donations to support costs that we cannot afford on our pensions. We could use some help now as we will be spending nine days in Ottawa and the trip will undoubtedly leave myself and Sylvain absorbing additional costs. You can donate to the CVA warchest at our national website through a variety of venues.
Several issues are surfacing that I need your feedback on.
WW2 veterans – long term care, I have received several complaints from children who are having difficulty finding LTC facilities for veterans who served in WW2. If this is happening to you, please send me a brief description of the situation and the time /place you parent served.
Case Managers – Has your CM changed or position been eliminated with no replacement being provided?
Call in centres. Problems?
My VAC. Problems?
Closing of offices? Problems?
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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.