Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Friday, March 29, 2013

New announcement: **OSI Ottawa - PARTICIPANTS NEEDED - Research Study INSOMNIA**

For Research Study

Many veterans experience sleep difficulties. Often, these difficulties start during military service and can be part of another diagnosis, like PTSD. However, sleep habits often develop that contribute to maintaining insomnia.

The purpose of this study is to compare two different methods to treat symptoms of insomnia among veterans with PTSD. Should you decide to participate in this study, you will be assigned on a random basis (i.e. flip of a coin) to:

a) A CBT for Insomnia group (CBTi); or
b) A Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction group (MBSR).

Both groups will run weekly at the Royal Ottawa OSI Clinic for a total of 8 weeks. You will be asked to complete a number of questionnaires about your symptoms of insomnia and other symptoms known to impact sleep (e.g. pain, anxiety) prior to the group, after completing the group, and at a 6-month follow-up. You will also be asked to complete sleep logs and, if applicable, meditation logs, and to wear an actiwatch 24 hours per day for one week prior to the group, for the duration of the group and for one week prior to the 6-month follow-up. The actiwatch is a device used to measure your level of physical activity, in order to provide objective measures of your sleep-wake cycle. The actiwatch is as small as a regular watch and is waterproof.

If interested, you will require a referral to the Royal Ottawa OSI Clinic through VAC and would become a client of the OSI Clinic for the duration of the study. There are several eligibility criteria that must be met in order to participate. For instance, you will be asked to temporarily stop any other individual or group therapy during the study (8 weeks) in order to ensure that the expected improvements in sleep are solely the result of the study group.

If you are interested in finding out more information about the study and eligibility criteria, or in participating, please contact the research coordinator (Erika Jansman-Hart) or research assistant (Kelly Christie), by phone or email.

Principal Investigator: Research Coordinator: Research Assistant:
Dr. Anik Gosselin Erika Jansman-Hart Kelly Christie
Ph: (613) 722-6521 x6292 Ph: (613) 722-6521 x6291 Ph: (613) 722-6521 x6782

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Canadian Veterans Advocacy Situation Report - BUDGET 2013 - Last Post Burial Fund.

CVA supporters will recall the dedicated effort the CVA executive put forth while in Ottawa and Trenton during Remembrance Week 2012 and I am pleased to note that this years budget addresses this issue by increasing the dispensation to 7400 dollars. Naturally, the Advocacy was not alone and I would take this opportunity to convey CVA compliments to Gordon Moore, Dominion President, Royal Canadian Legion and his team for their pro-active posture on this issue. We also acknowledge the consistent efforts of Peter Stoffer, NDP Veterans critic, Sean Casey, Liberal veterans critic and to Minister of Veterans Affairs Steven Blaney for listening to our collective voices and seeking resolutions, at least on the financial level, through this years budget.
The Canadian Veterans Advocacy, however, continues to bear serious concerns about the Last Post Fund's restrictive criteria, particularly in the sense of exclusion of deceased veterans who did not serve in WW2 and Korea yet who's families require financial assistance for a dignified internment. We are gravely concerned about the current Means Test and the formula responsible for the denial of two thirds of applicants and will continue to address this situation until we have resolved these outstanding issues through dialogue and engagement.
One Veteran - One Standard.
CVA Refresher - Last Post Burial Fund Operations - Remembrance Week 2012. Bear in mind that many reports are published nation wide through syndication and that over this period, our message was delivered to the government and the Canadian public by newspaper, radio, television and the Internet medium, platforms that provided awareness to millions of Canadians. Here is but a small sample.

Pro Patria Semper Fidelis

Michael L Blais CD
Founder/President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ont, Cda.
L2E 7K6 // 905-357-3306 // Cell 905-359-9247

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

New announcement: We Stopped for the Dead — What About Our Wounded?

We Stopped for the Dead — What About Our Wounded?

Thane Burnett - March 18th, 2013

OSHAWA, Ont. — The Captain says we need to step back. Regroup. Rethink this strategy that he believes is leaving our wounded worse off than they were before.

Or at least — as a nation — fully understand there's a battle still going on.

I'm sitting in a messy officers mess inside the Oshawa Armoury — leather chairs and wooded tables pushed against armed forces Bric-à-brac. Clutter among great military order.

Captain Wayne Johnston, founder of Canada's Wounded Warriors ( charity project, is leaning forward in one of those old chairs and offering up an opinion about Canada's greatest year, even before I ask the question.

We are not so far from the Highways of Heroes, the route used to repatriate the bodies of our fallen soldiers from Afghanistan. During each of those sad days, Hwy. 401 was lined with Canadians — hats off, hands over hearts or offering a salute to a soldier who died in our country's name. Though you likely know all that.

The man seated in front of me is every bit the soldier. The kind of man I saw often during time with our troops in Afghanistan. Canadian swagger. With his handle bar mustache and no nonsense demeanor, Johnston talks about Canadians soldiers and vets as if he's speaking about his brothers and sisters.

Which is how he wishes Canadian politicians would see them.

Johnston answers the unasked question — our most poignant moment as a nation came in 1917, he's sure.

That was the year of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, when Canada stormed from the shadows of our British parents to define their country. During that victory — with more than 10,000 killed or wounded — we also proved ourselves a brave force to be reckoned with.

"Vimy is woven into the fabric of our nation," he points out, believing the Highway of Heroes will be remembered in the same way.

But now, for a year where we seemed to have forgotten ourselves as Canadians. He says that would be 2006, when politicians of all political stripes supported dramatic changes to veteran compensation with the New Veterans Charter. The bulk payouts are now the focus of a lawsuit by injured soldiers.

"Can you imagine we've reached a point where soldiers are having to sue their government," says Johnston, before we get up and move into the armoury for photos.

Since 2006, the country has regressed in a commitment to vets that goes back to our 8th Prime Minister, Robert Borden, says the soldier, who was inspired and scarred by his duties as an assisting officer assigned to severely wounded Canadian soldiers sent from Afghanistan to Germany.

He started The Sapper Mike McTeague Wounded Warriors Fund, in part, because in that German hospital, he saw American soldiers given comfort from their country that the Canadians lacked. It including simple things like USA throw-blankets that the Canadians would inherit and be wrapped in.

"My soul has been torn," Johnston says of his own struggles.

When it comes to the changes to compensation and long-term support for vets — especially young wounded soldiers with a life-time of physical, psychological and emotional burden ahead — Johnston has a wish for Canadian politicians.

"That they look in the mirror and and ask 'what if it were them or their sons or daughters?" he recommends.

And for his fellow Canadians, he wishes they wouldn't be distracted by the "white noise" of politicians arguing that they are giving a great deal to vets and that this is all about where a decimal point falls.

He wants us, as we did along the highway for our dead, to stop what we're doing to understand the loss and sacrifice of our injured and hurting.

And how our plan for doing them right has been wronged. How it was better before. How we were better before.

And that we have to demand a moment to redraw the lines on how we got to a point where we seem to be leaving our wounded behind.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Army warns doctors against using certain drugs in PTSD treatment

Army warns doctors against using certain drugs in PTSD treatment

US News but applicable to us....

By Bob Brewin April 25, 2012

The Army Surgeon General's office is backing away from its long-standing endorsement of prescribing troops multiple highly addictive psychotropic drugs for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and early this month warned regional medical commanders against using tranquilizers such as Xanax and Valium to treat PTSD.

An April 10 policy memo that the Army Medical Command released regarding the diagnosis and treatment of PTSD said a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which include Xanax and Valium, could intensify rather than reduce combat stress symptoms and lead to addiction.

The memo, signed by Herbert Coley, civilian chief of staff of the Army Medical Command, also cautioned service clinicians against prescribing second-generation antipsychotic drugs, such as Seroquel and Risperidone, to combat PTSD. The drugs originally were developed to treat severe mental conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The memo questioned the efficacy of this drug class in PTSD treatment and cautioned against their use due to potential long-term health effects, which include heart disorders, muscle spasms and weight gain.

Throughout more than a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military services have relied heavily on prescription drugs to help troops deal with their mental health problems during and after deployment. In a June 2010 report, the Defense Department's Pharmacoeconomic Center said 213,972, or 20 percent of the 1.1 million active-duty troops surveyed, were taking some form of psychotropic drug -- antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedative hypnotics or other controlled substances.

The Army, in a July 2010 report on suicide prevention, said one-third of all active-duty military suicides involved prescription drugs.

Mental health experts say the military's prescription drug problem is exacerbated by a U.S. Central Command policy that dates to October 2001 and provides deploying troops with up to a 180-day supply of prescription drugs under its Central Nervous System formulary.

That formulary includes Xanax, Valium and three other benzodiazepines to treat anxiety: Ativan, Klonopin and Restoril.

Broken Warriors is an ongoing series on mental health issues in the military.

The Army's new PTSD policy makes it clear that the risk of treating combat stress with benzodiazepines outweighs the rewards: "Benzodiazepine use should be considered relatively contraindicated in combat veterans with PTSD because of the high co-morbidity of combat-related PTSD with alcohol misuse and substance use disorders (up to 50 percent co-morbidity) and potential problems with tolerance and dependence."

After becoming dependent on these drugs, soldiers face enormous problems when they try to discontinue their use, the report said. "Once initiated in combat veterans, benzodiazepines can be very difficult, if not impossible to discontinue, due to significant withdrawal symptoms compounded by underlying PTSD symptoms," the document said.

The Army policy memo highlighting problems with benzodiazepines for PTSD treatment dovetails with a study published in the April issue of Current Psychiatry Online by Jolene Bostwick, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy.

Bostwick wrote "benzodiazepine administration fails to prevent PTSD and may increase its incidence." She added, "use of benzodiazepines for PTSD is associated with withdrawal symptoms, more severe symptoms after discontinuation and possible disinhibition, and may interfere with patients' efforts to integrate trauma experiences."

Army clinicians who prescribe Risperidone, Seroquel and other second-generation antipsychotic drugs "must clearly document their rationale concluding that the potential benefits outweigh the known risks and that informed consent has been conducted," the policy memo said.

Seroquel has been implicated in the deaths of combat veterans and the Veterans Affairs Department reported in August 2011 that Risperidone was no more effective in PTSD treatment than a placebo. VA spent $717 million on the drug over the past decade. The military has spent $74 million over the past 10 years on Risperidone, a spokeswoman for the Defense Logistics Agency said.

An Army doctor who declined to be identified told Nextgov "these long-overdue policy changes are welcome, but they will further shift the mental health care of soldiers to an already overstressed VA and will result in the separation of many mentally stressed volunteers, who just months earlier had been counseled to steel themselves for a career of perpetual deployment and had been willing to sacrifice the best years of their lives to do so."

This long-serving Army clinician said, "the nation needs to take a long, hard look at what delayed the institution of these policies, and why the priorities of our Army medical leaders have too often favored the manpower needs of the Army rather than the mental health of its soldiers."

Dr. Grace Jackson, a former Navy psychiatrist who resigned her commission in 2002 "because I did not want to be a pill pusher" said the new Army policy shows "they are finally admitting to some problems associated with at least one class of psychiatric medication." But, Jackson said, the Army policy does not address problems with other classes of prescription drugs, including antidepressants and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, in the treatment of PTSD. Clinical studies, Jackson said, have shown these drugs to be no better than placebos -- but far more dangerous in the treatment of PTSD.

The Army also has ignored the role antipsychotic drugs play in the "sudden deaths" of troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury due to undiagnosed endocrine abnormalities Jackson said.

The use of antipsychotic drugs to treat troops with TBI can cause changes in growth and thyroid hormones, which can in turn trigger a variety of cardiac-related events that could result in sudden deaths, Jackson said.

Though the Army has adopted a new policy on the use of benzodiazepines, Jackson said the Defense Department overall is still wedded to a policy of using drugs to treat metal problems even when scientific evidence "demonstrates poor risk-benefit ratios."

The Army policy memo encouraged clinicians to look beyond drugs to treat PTSD and suggested a range of alternative therapies, including yoga, biofeedback, acupuncture and massage.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New announcement: Unique Canadian program to train police to deal with psychiatric situations

Unique Canadian program to train police to deal with psychiatric situations promising, study finds

By Douglas Quan, Postmedia News March 18, 2013

A unique police training program that uses actors to portray people with a variety of psychiatric disorders shows promise in teaching officers to deal more effectively with those with mental illness, according to a new study.

The findings released Monday by University of Alberta researchers comes at a time when other studies have shown that those with psychiatric disorders are disproportionately represented in arrest data and as police forces have come under scrutiny for violent — and sometimes fatal — confrontations with them.

"We all hear tragic situations in which sometimes perhaps a greater understanding of mental illness would've been helpful," said Peter Silverstone, a psychiatrist in the university's faculty of medicine and dentistry and lead investigator of the study, which was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry.

More than 600 officers from the Edmonton Police Service took part in the study, which had each of them interact with actors in six scenarios. The scenarios included having officers respond to a depressed and belligerent person who was near a weapon, a psychotic individual experiencing hallucinations, and an excited individual behaving strangely on a public street.

Following each session, officers received feedback from supervising officers, psychologists and the actors on everything from their stance to their tone to how well they showed empathy. For instance, did they share their name with the actor, look the actor in the eyes or attempt to build rapport by mirroring the actor's body movements?

"If you can give them the skills to increase the perceived empathy, that's very important," Silverstone said. "We all want to feel that somebody understands us at a fundamental level."

In a follow-up survey six months later, supervising officers reported improvements in officers' abilities to "verbally de-escalate" situations and to show empathy when dealing people with psychiatric disorders, according to the study.

The average number of mental health calls also went up, the study reported.

"The data from the study suggests that after they went through training, they were much more clear and much better able to identify when mental health scenarios occurred. And they identified them much more frequently," Silverstone said.

There was also a marked decrease in the use of force against individuals with psychiatric disorders, though the researchers noted that Edmonton police had introduced other initiatives around the same time as the study to reduce the use of force in all circumstances.

While most officers thought the training was beneficial, there were some negative comments, Silverstone wrote in a related paper.

"None of the tools provided to me have worked," one officer said. Another questioned why the actors were being asked for their feedback.

"A schizophrenic would not likely think or feel in any way similar to what the actors 'felt' and this somewhat made the scenarios unrealistic," the officer stated.

Studies in Canada and Britain have found that 37 to 48 per cent of people fatally shot by police had underlying mental health issues, the researchers reported.

A 2012 study sponsored by the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that about 40 per cent of people with psychiatric disorders had been arrested in their lifetimes, and that people with mental illness were over-represented in police-related shootings, Taser incidents and fatalities.

The same study also found that people with mental illness tended to hold more negative views toward police than the general public.

Despite these findings, current mental health training for police officers "varies widely" across Canada, the Alberta researchers said. Some officers only get training during recruitment; others have been enrolled in classroom or online courses. The effectiveness of programs has not been rigorously tested.

One recent trend has been the creation of mobile crisis response teams — staffed by mental health professionals — that police can call upon if they need help dealing with someone who has a mental illness.

In the past, officers spent a lot of time doing "street triage" on people with mental health problems or escorting them to hospital, said Brad Duncan, police chief in London, Ont., which has such a team.

"There is a level of frustration when you know an individual needs assistance but we don't have the ability to do much more than make sure they're OK, that they won't harm themselves," he said.

Now, with the creation of crisis response teams, these individuals get better care, which frees up officers to handle other calls, Duncan said.

Ottawa police are experimenting with teaming up psychiatrists with patrol officers as part of a yearlong pilot project.

There is now "clear recognition" among police forces of the need to develop closer relationships with those who have the expertise, said Tim Smith, a spokesman for the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police.

"Police cannot address this issue on their own."

© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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New announcement: Veteran Transition Program NS

The Veterans Transition Program (VTP) is a group- based residential program where soldiers help soldiers transition to civilian life, offered by the Veterans Transition Network (VTN). The program is made possible through a partnership between the University of British Columbia, True Patriot Love and the Nova Scotia / Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion.

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New announcement: PTSD FORUM with Dr. Dee Rajska - Fight-or-Flight reflex, Anger

PTSD FORUM with Dr. Dee Rajska - Fight-or-Flight reflex, Anger

Hi again, folks!

Thanks so much for coming back!

(I would promise to make the jokes less corny this week, but I hate making promises I can't keep)…

As I was saying last week, (I'm repeating myself, but this was my best line so I want to use it again in case you missed it), dealing with PTSD on your own is like trying to fight a war all by yourself, against an enemy you've never been trained to fight.

(Good line, right? Aren't you glad I brought it back for an encore?)

You need to have buddies fighting alongside you, which is why last week I did the used-car-salesman thing about peer support. You also need to KNOW YOUR ENEMY. So, today, I'd like to start giving you the intel you need to kick PTSD's… ahem, *six*.

According to the DSM-IV TR, the diagnostic criteria for PTSD are as follows:

to Continue reading the article, please visit:

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

New announcement: Researcher alleges VA covered up adverse consequences to toxic exposures

Researcher alleges VA covered up adverse consequences to toxic exposures

Posted by Steve Vogel on March 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

A senior epidemiologist for the Department of Veterans Affairs who resigned in December told a congressional committee Wednesday that the agency has covered up data showing adverse consequences for veterans who were exposed to toxic materials from burn pits and other environmental hazards in Iraq, Afghanistan and the first Gulf War.

Steven S. Coughlin testified that he resigned from the VA's Office of Public Health in December "because of serious ethical concerns" about the agency's conduct, which he said included not releasing study results that point to a connection between environmental exposures and illnesses.

"On the rare occasions when embarrassing study results are released, data are manipulated to make them unintelligible," Coughlin said in his testimony to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs' oversight and Investigations subcommittee.

Coughlin said during his work studying the relationship between exposure to burn pits and asthma and bronchitis among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, his supervisor told him not to look at data regarding hospitalizations and doctors' visits.

"When I advised him I did not want to continue as a co-investigator under these circumstances, he threatened me," Coughlin said.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki has directed the Office of Research Oversight to review the allegations, according to the VA.

"Research on the health of Gulf War Veterans has been and continues to be a priority for VA," the agency said in a statement. "The Department depends on this research to inform our decisions and guide our efforts in caring for Gulf War Veterans. All allegations of malfeasance are taken seriously and are investigated fully."

During the hearing, several speakers said the VA has been slow to clearly acknowledge research that has validated Gulf War illnesses as a serious medical condition.

"There are many examples large and small of the VA minimizing Gulf War illness," said Lea Steele, a professor of biomedical studies and director of the Veterans Health Research Program at Baylor University.

Victoria Davey, chief officer for the VA's Office of Public Health and Environmental Hazards, told the subcommittee that the department takes the ailment seriously.

"We do not believe it is psychological," she said.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Statement by Chris Hadfield, first Canadian commander of the International Space Station

Statement by Chris Hadfield, first Canadian commander of the International Space Station

“The ISS is an orbiting research vessel of unprecedented capability and Canada is in the thick of it.”
Source: Statement by Chris Hadfield, first Canadian commander of the International Space Station

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, March 15, 2013

New announcement: Kelowna war veteran decides to stay in psychiatric unit

Kelowna war veteran decides to stay in psychiatric unit

David Toneff was stopped with a car full of loaded weapons in January
with files from Bob Keating CBC News
Posted: Mar 15, 2013 1:12 PM PT
Last Updated: Mar 15, 2013 1:59 PM PT

A Kelowna veteran who served Canada in Afghanistan will remain in a psychiatric Institution in Port Coquitlam after being stopped with a car full of loaded weapons.

David Toneff, 33, was stopped in January by an RCMP officer in the Okanagan city who noticed a headlight was out on the vehicle.

Toneff fled and when the officer caught up to him, he discovered the car was full of guns.

"Nine firearms were located within the vehicle, four of which were loaded and one of those being a nine millimeter hand gun on the front passenger seat of the vehicle," said Const. Kris Clark..

Police also executed a search warrant on Toneff's home and found more weapons, ammunition and an American white supremacist manifesto.

"It's certainly disturbing," said Clark, "What was his intention? Where was he going? It seemed like he was going to execute something."

Toneff was charged with 25 offences and appeared in court Thursday by video.

He decided not to seek bail and will remain in the psychiatric institution in Port Coquitlam until he appears in court again in early April.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

NEW INFO VIP - Ground Maintenance and Housekeeping Grants

Veterans Independence Program - Ground Maintenance and Housekeeping Grants

As of January 1, 2013, semi-annual up-front grant payments are being provided for grounds maintenance and housekeeping services offered under the Veterans
Independence Program (VIP). These benefits were previously being paid directly to providers, being reimbursed to program recipients, or being given via advance pay. Any new clients (Veterans I Primary Caregivers I Surviving spouses) applying for GK and HK under VIP will automatically be placed in the Grant program. The 105,000 existing VIP recipients will be converted to grants upon their anniversary dates (the date they started receiving VIP).

There have been no changes to the eligibility for the program - the same service eligibility and identified health need requirements are in place. Once eligibility is
determined then the Grant Determination Tool is applied and this tool calculates the grant that the client will receive.

Everyone should have received a letter in fall 2012 advising of changes and a letter to give to their provider. If they did not receive a letter, they can get one by calling the NCCN 1-866-522-2122.

Upon the Anniversary date, the recipient's Benefit arrangement changes from reimbursement I direct bill I advance pay to the semi-annual grants.
Grants calculations for existing recipients are based on:
• If there has been no reassessment in the last year then the grant will be the equivalent on what was spent in the previous year (11 months, 3 weeks).
• If the HK and/or GK was reassessed with the GDT after Jan 3, 2013 then the grant is the what was calculated by the GDT.
• If the HK and/or GK were reassessed in the last 2 months prior to conversion - the grant will be equal to the reassessed amount.
• If the HK and/or GK were reassessed in the past year more than 2 months prior to anniversary date - there is a calculation that is based on percentage of
spending, projected spending, and amount of reassessment. (About 4000 VIP recipients are going to fall in this category)

Six months after the first grant payment, a second grant payment will be sent to the recipient. At that time the receipts that were submitted after the first grant for the previous year will have been factored in and an adjustment will be made to the grant.

As of 1 January 2013, primary responsibility for providing eligible still-serving CF personnel with treatment, home care, home assistance and personal care benefits and seNices shifted from VAC to the CF. Men and women in uniform can access these seNices through their supporting CF Health Services Centre. This means that on a recipient's VIP anniversary date, the VIP benefits from VAC will be terminated.

However, if the member had released, or was in the release process prior to January 1, 2013, that person will not be impacted by these changes. Still SeNing members were advised that documented confirmation of a 2013 release date needed to be forwarded to the VAC Transitional Support Unit. This unit is ensuring that anyone who selfidentified prior to Jan 1, 2013 are not losing nor having a gap in their services. Anyone who releases without having provided the documentation prior to Jan 1,2013 will need to go through the VAC application process again.

- There is no overpayment for grants as there is for pensions or the previous advance pay system. If the recipient was eligible to receive grant on the day it was processed then it is the recipients to keep. For example if an eligible recipient passes away after receiving a grant, there is no requirement for the estate to repay any part the grant. The spouse of the Veteran recipient in cases such as this, is considered a new applicant and will be processed as per the GDT.

-The Spouses I Primary Care Givers of Veterans who live in Nursing Homes I Long - Term Care Facilities are eligible for the grant, however they cannot receive it by direct deposit at this time. This is a system generated barrier that the IT department is trying to have changed.
- Window Washing is no longer a separate element, it is being included in Housekeeping. When existing recipients were converted the spent amount in Window
Washing was added to overall House Keeping amount. Window Washing has always been a part of House Keeping, but it was added as a separate element for billing
purposes. VAC is going back to being in line with policy and including this under House Keeping.
- If a recipient requests a reassessment of the GK or HK because the recipient is reporting an increased health need, and the GDT computes an amount that is less than what the recipient is currently receiving, the recipient is to be 'grand fathered ' at the converted amount and NOT reduced. Please note they are to be grand fathered at the converted amount, not the previously approved amount. If the reassessment was due to a change such as moving into a smaller home (for example from a 3 bedroom house to a 1 bedroom apartment) the recipient's benefits will not be grand fathered.
- For those that may require support in managing the grants, they are eligible to access the support of VAC staff such as a Case Manager to help them identify potential resources.

The Grant Determination Tool
The Annual Grant Determination Tool (GDT) was developed as part of the Budget 2012 initiative to assist with the implementation of the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) Grant for Housekeeping and Grounds Maintenance. The GDT is not an assessment tool. It is a calculation worksheet to determine the amount that can be approved for the Housekeeping and Grounds Maintenance grant.

The Annual Grant Determination Tool works differently for VIP Housekeeping (HK) and Grounds Maintenance (GM). For Housekeeping services, the tool determines the individual's level of need for those services by assigning a level of need score based on answers to a series of questions. The Level of Need Score (LN) is then translated into hours of services.

For Grounds Maintenance, the tool determines how much funds are required (up to annual maximum rates) based on the size of the individual's property and other factors such as geography.

The Level of Need Score derived from the completed Grant Determination Tool will result in a fair and consistent approach that will standardize the way VIP Housekeeping and Grounds Maintenance services and costs are approved for clients nationally. There is no discretion beyond the scoring results provided by the Grant Determination Tool. The amount of the grant will reflect the needs of the recipient, as determined by the GDT.


November 2012 Protected Personal Information

Address 1
Address 2
City, Province Postal Code

Dear [Name],

Starting on January 1, 2013, a semi-annual up-front grant payment will be provided for grounds maintenance and housekeeping services offered under the
Veterans Independence Program (VIP). These up-front payments will replace the current reimbursement process for these services. You will automatically receive your first grant payment when your benefit year expires on [DATE], provided you have submitted your VIP annual renewal form. Please continue to submit receipts for the services that are rendered up until that date.

What this change means:
- Your grant payments are for housekeeping and grounds maintenance services only. You will no longer have to obtain or submit receipts and wait to be reimbursed for housekeeping and grounds maintenance services.
- You will receive your grant payments up front and in two annual installments. Your first grant payment will be received when your new benefit year begins in 2013. You will receive your second payment six months later.


- Your grant payment calculation will be based on your needs, local rates for housekeeping and grounds maintenance services and your previous expense history for these services.
- You will be advised in writing of your annual grant amount.
- You may continue to use the service provider of your choice. You will be responsible for paying your provider directly.
- Service providers registered with Medavie Blue Cross will be informed of this change. We have enclosed a letter that you may share with your housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance provider(s) identifying the date you will begin receiving the up-front grant payments.
- Should you have any receipts outstanding from last year, please submit them as soon as possible.
- If you are receiving other VIP services, please ensure that you or your provider continues to submit receipts for reimbursement. If you are receiving advanced payments, these payments will continue for your other VIP services.

We will continue to follow up with you annually to ensure your VIP services are meeting your needs. You will be required to complete the annual follow-up form
to ensure there is no interruption in your VIP benefits. In the meantime, if your needs change, please contact VAC directly. You are responsible for managing the up-front grant payments issued to you. The funds are intended to contribute to the cost of housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance services. Your annual grant amount will not be increased unless your needs change.

For more information about the Veterans Independence Program and how Veterans Affairs Canada can help you, please visit or call
toll free 1-866-522-2122.

Veterans Affairs Anciens Combattants

November 2012

Dear Provider:

Protected Personal Information


Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) advises you that effective [Date] [Client Name] at [Address] will begin receiving a semi-annual up-front grant payment for grounds maintenance and/or housekeeping services offered under the Veterans Independence Program (VIP). After this date, your client will be responsible for paying you directly and will no longer have to submit receipts or wait to be reimbursed. This also means that you will not be able to submit for reimbursement on a client's behalf for services delivered after the beginning of their new benefit year. Clients will receive two payments each year: The first at the beginning of
their 2013 benefit year, the second six months later.

Other benefits provided under VIP will continue to be administered as usual. If you have any questions, please contact the toll-free VIP Inquiry Line at


VIP Grant - 01

VIP Grant Conversion (First installment, converted based on expenses)



FILE: K1234567

Recipient's First Name Last Name
Address Line 1
City, Prov Postal Code

Dear (Name)
As you know, Veterans Affairs Canada is converting housekeeping and grounds maintenance benefits under the Veterans Independence Program (VIP) to up-front grant payments. Effective (date), your housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance benefits have been converted to a grant and you will no longer have to send in receipts and wait to be reimbursed for services provided after this date.

If you receive VIP benefits other than housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance and submit requests for reimbursement either by sending receipts, signing VIP claim forms, or a combination of both, you will need to continue to do so for those services.

Your grant amount was calculated based on your usage from the previous year. If you have not submitted receipts for expenses in the past year for either housekeeping or grounds maintenance, you will not be receiving a grant payment for that benefit at this time. Based on this, the following will be provided to contribute toward the cost of services:

(Enter applicable amounts:

Housekeeping for $/per year (Enter HK amount)
Grounds Maintenance for $/per year (Enter GM amount).
= Total Annual Grant for $ (Enter grant amount).

Your grant will be issued in two semi-annual installments. The first installment of $ (Enter amount of first installment) has been issued. However, please note that the actual payment you receive may be different if any adjustments were necessary. Please refer to the Explanation of Benefits (EOB) statement accompanying the payment which will list any adjustment or any other payments that may have been made at the same time. Your second payment will be provided in (Enter month and year of next payment issue), as long as you continue to be eligible to receive these benefits. Please be assured that your second payment will be adjusted to incorporate any eligible receipts from last year.

While you continue to have 18 months from the date services are provided to submit any outstanding receipts for reimbursement, only those invoices and receipts that we receive by (Enter May 31,2013 for those converted in Jan and advance one month for each conversion month on a go forward basis) can be considered in
calculating your grant amount. Any required adjustments will be added to your second grant payment.

You are responsible for managing the grant payments issued to you and paying your service provider(s) for their services. The payments are intended to contribute to your costs of housekeeping and/or grounds maintenance services.

Your annual grant amount may be increased if your needs change. If you have questions or concerns related to your grant payment, please call us at 1-855-342-3760. This toll free line has been set up specifically to respond to inquiries on grant payments only.

If you feel that your annual grant amount has not been calculated correctly, you may request a review by writing within 60 days of receiving this letter to:

Veterans Affairs Canada
National 1 st Level Appeals
40 Alderney Drive, Stn #202
Dartmouth, NS B2Y 2N5

In your letter, please include the reason you are requesting a review and any additional information to support your request.


Tania Stote
Contract Manager
VIP Conversion Unit

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, March 8, 2013

New announcement: Vets’ PTSD Affects Mental and Physical Health of Partners

Vets' PTSD Affects Mental and Physical Health of Partners

Study first to suggest health risks for female partners of vets with PTSD

March 7, 2013 – A study from the University of Utah sheds new light on the health risks faced not only by military veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but by their partners as well. Results of the study will be presented later this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychosomatic Society.

The study compared emotional and physiological responses of two groups of military veterans and their partners during and after engaging in a "disagreement task" set in a clinically-monitored environment. The veterans in one group had been diagnosed with PTSD, and those in the control group had not.

According to the researchers, the most remarkable finding was that the partners of veterans with PTSD showed even greater increases in blood pressure during conflict than the veterans with PTSD themselves, suggesting that these partners may be at similar, if not greater, risk for health consequences from relationship conflict and PTSD as the veterans.

Although prior research has documented greater cardiovascular reactivity to general stressors and higher levels of anger in veterans with PTSD, this is the first study to report such physiological and anger responses to intimate relationship conflict for veterans, as well as their partners. An important finding was that female partners of male veterans who had been diagnosed with PTSD suffered not only from general psychological distress, but also exhibited more negative emotional and physical effects from relationship conflict, including significant increases in measurements of blood pressure and anger.

"Overall, we found that couples where the veteran has PTSD showed greater emotional and relationship distress than military couples without PTSD," says Catherine Caska, a graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Utah and whose doctoral dissertation is the basis of this research. "The couples affected by PTSD also showed greater increases in blood pressure, heart rate, and other indicators of cardiovascular health risk in response to the relationship conflict. Veterans with PTSD showed larger increases in blood pressure in response to the relationship conflict discussion than did veterans without PTSD. These responses and the greater emotional reactions and overall relationship distress reported by veterans with PTSD could contribute to the increased risk of cardiovascular disease previously found to be associated with PTSD."

Why is PTSD in veterans important?

PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder caused by a traumatic event that involves the threat of injury or death. Up to 25 percent of the more than 2 million veterans returning from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan have signs of PTSD. The health and economic consequences of the disorder are significant.

PTSD is strongly associated with both increased risk of cardiovascular disease—including stroke, hypertension, and heart disease—and emotional distress between couples, especially for those in the military. Researchers note that the annual healthcare costs for military veterans are estimated at $4 billion to $6 billion, much of which is related to physical health problems other than trauma-related physical injury. This is the first study to explore the emotional and cardiovascular effects of relationship discord in military personnel, as well as the potential physical health risks for partners of veterans with PTSD.

"We learned that couples with PTSD experience more signs of physical and emotional stress than other military couples when under a challenge to their relationship," says Tim Smith, professor of psychology at the University of Utah, and a co-author on the study. "Understanding possible links between increased relationship stress and the risk of heart problems gives practitioners new insights in the treatment of PTSD, as well as the management of couple difficulties."

How the study was conducted

Sixty-five male veterans and their female partners participated in the study. The veterans had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan an average of 1.5 times since 2001. There were 32 couples in which the veteran had PTSD and 33 couples in the control group without PTSD being a factor. Although efforts were made to include couples with female veterans and male partners, none were found for this study.

All participants were interviewed by a clinician and completed standard questionnaires to measure PTSD, depression, anger and anxiety, marital satisfaction and areas of disagreement.

The topic area of highest disagreement provided the basis for a laboratory conflict task for each couple. Before beginning the conflict task, each participant's blood pressure and heart rate were monitored while looking at neutral landscape photographs to measure their cardiovascular functioning while in a "resting" state. Participants also completed questionnaires to assess their levels of anxiety and anger before the conflict task.

To measure couples' emotional and cardiovascular functioning during conflict, each discussed together a current issue for them in a structured and timed fashion. The conversations on their selected topic were divided into three segments: an unstructured conversation, a structured segment where the partners took turns speaking and listening and a final unstructured discussion. Physiological measurements were taken throughout the segments, and following the task, each participant completed additional questionnaires and was interviewed separately.

Does PTSD affect emotional functioning?

Perhaps not surprisingly, veterans in the PTSD group showed significantly greater symptoms of PTSD than in the control group. Those veterans—and their partners—also had greater psychological distress, that is, depression and anxiety, than their counterparts in the control group.

When examining how well the participants function emotionally as couples, the results again showed that the couples with PTSD were under greater stress, than those couples without PTSD. The effect is shown through higher levels of conflict or disharmony, as well as higher levels of disaffection, which also means emotional distance or lack of warmth and closeness. Though these were all higher compared to control couples, PTSD couples reported even greater problems with frequent and intense conflict than they did with disaffection.

Does PTSD affect how couples manage under pressure?

Emotional functioning of the couples was put to the test in the conflict task. Overall, after the challenge couples reported larger increases in negative affect—meaning anxiety and anger—compared to the baseline. PTSD couples reported more negative affect than control couples, with a significantly larger increase in anger than anxiety. This was shown in both veterans and their partners, with the latter displaying even greater anger responses than the veterans with PTSD.

Measurements of the health impact of such conflict were also consistent. This was demonstrated by blood pressure and heart rate each being elevated in the couples with PTSD compared to controls. Strikingly, partners in the PTSD group not only had greater increases in blood pressure than control group partners, but also compared to the veterans with PTSD.

"The results of our study emphasize the potential role of relationship difficulties in the increased risk for cardiovascular disease among Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans with PTSD," concludes Caska. "These data also suggest the possibility of similar heath risks for their partners. These findings could have important implications for the focus of treatments and services for this population, and further drives home the need to continue to focus research and resources on understanding and better serving military families."

This study was supported in part by a National Institute of Mental Health Grant.
Media Contacts For This Story
Catherine Caska
clinical psychology doctoral student at the University of Utah
Office Phone: 518-929-0401
Email address:

Tim Smith
professor of psychology
Office Phone: (801) 581-5087
Email address:

Valoree Dowell
University of Utah Communications
Office Phone: 801-585-6861
Cell Phone: 801-403-3128
Email address:

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New announcement: Ex-veterans' ombudsman treated for post-traumatic stress

Ex-veterans' ombudsman treated for post-traumatic stress

Pat Stogran blames shock he felt over Ottawa's treatment of disabled soldiers
By Donna Carreiro, CBC News
Posted: Mar 5, 2013 6:35 AM CST
Last Updated: Mar 5, 2013 2:48 PM CST

Canada's former veterans affairs ombudsman is now being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder — a direct result, he says, of the shock he felt over Ottawa's treatment of disabled soldiers.

"The most traumatic experience that I had was the aftermath of my experience as veterans ombudsman," retired colonel Pat Stogran told CBC News.

"I find it very, very difficult to take the situation sitting down."

Stogran was shocked but not surprised to hear the stories that veterans have told CBC Radio as part of its special series, Battle Scars.

Some of those stories have been about veterans being denied treatment for PTSD and, in some cases, being denied disability pensions once they were released.

"Yeah, different time, different place, but same old story," Stogran said from his Ottawa home. "The system is an empty shell of treatment and services."

Back in 2007, the federal government hand-picked Stogran to act as a special adviser to the minister of veterans affairs.

Stogran, who had served in the military for more than 30 years, took that chance to advocate for better treatment of disabled soldiers, regardless of whether those injuries were physical or psychological.
Pension plan changes challenged

He specifically challenged the government on its revised disability pension plan. Prior to 2006, wounded veterans were compensated in lifelong monthly installments.

Now, they're paid one lump-sum installment — something that critics charge is penny-pinching and insufficient.

Stogran also advocated for better support and treatment for veterans suffering the injuries you can't see, like PTSD.

Again, he said, those pleas fell on deaf ears. By 2010, he was ousted from his job, he said.

Today, Stogran still advocates for disabled veterans. He says it's a matter of life and death.

Without federal support, more soldiers will commit suicide, he said, especially as Canada's troops return from Afghanistan in the next year.

"It shouldn't be a numbers game," he said.

"Does the government have a quota that they're going to fill before they react? We should be doing everything we can to stop that kind of a trend …. Let's not wait until the requisite number of suicides occur before they flick the switch."
Department responds

In an email sent late Monday, Veterans Affairs Canada told CBC News it is helping more than 16,200 veterans with mental health conditions and their families.

A spokesman said the department conducts transition interviews with released Canadian Forces members, reservists and their families to "identify any potential challenges/barriers they may face in making a successful transition from military to civilian life" as well as highlight programs that could help.

Veterans Affairs Canada case managers and clinical care managers work with veterans with complex needs, including mental-health needs.

The department also has a suicide prevention framework and addiction strategy in place, the spokesman added.

"The range of benefits and services available to eligible veterans and their families from Veterans Affairs Canada are intended to reduce the burden of disabilities related to military service, thereby reducing the pressures that can lead to suicide," the department's email states in part.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New announcement: Jigsaw Casting Ltd. is Seeking Canadian War Veterans

Jigsaw Casting Ltd. is Seeking Canadian War Veterans for an Upcoming Quick Serve Restaurant!


We are seeking Current and WWII Canadian Vet's who love Coffee!

About the Role

WWII VET- Male, You have helped serve our country in WWII

VET/SERVICE PERSON- Men or Women, 20+ years of age. You have helped serve our country post WWII



Details & Submission Information
If interested, you must submit in order to be invited in to audition.
Please e-mail the following to:
1. Your names, ethnicity, ages and brief bio
2. Photos: headshots and body shot. Snap shots are fine
3. Your primary and secondary contact information
4. Please write 'PROJECT COFFEE VET in subject line of e-mail, along with your role name and age. (E.G. "Project Coffee Vet - John Smith –WWII VETERAN- age 65")

Submissions are due by: Wednesday March 5th @ 5pm
You must be available for these key dates:
SHOOT: March 11th and 12th

Questions or Concerns
*If you have already submitted for this project, you do not need to resubmit your information
*Please note that you will not be compensated for the audition
*You must be a Canadian Citizen to participate.
*If you are a signed actor, please allow your agent to submit for you.
*If you have received this notice after the deadline please call Caitlin at ext. 230 at Jigsaw, 416-360-0336.

60 SUMACH ST / 2ND FLOOR / TORONTO, ON M5A 3J7 / T: (416) 360 0336 / F: (416) 360 0465

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You can view the full announcement by following this link:

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.