Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Canadian Veterans Advocacy: Health Related Travel Claim

** Health Related Travel Claim – Guide, Veteran and Escort **
Surprisingly enough, Its now been a few Vets that were not aware that they can claim for Health Related Travel, HRT, and other expenses. That has happen in the Montreal, Ottawa ans Sydney Office's. Please make sure you read the guide. I had one wife of a Vet mentioned that her CM told her she can't claim for HRT. Here are the forms you need. Medical Escorts MUST be approved by VAC.

If you have been told that you cant submit a travel claim, please email the CVA Team with as much detail as you can. The name of the person, your District Office, when did this happen...

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, June 28, 2013

New announcement: JPSU - Policy on Improper Comments on Social Media


References: A QR&O 19.14 (Improper Comments)
B. QR&O 19.36 (Disclosure of Information or Opinion)
C. DAOD 7023-1 (Defence Ethics Program)
D. DAOD 6002-7 (Internal Use of Social Media Technologies)

1. Social media is generally understood to be the interaction among people to create, share and exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks; it includes, but is not limited to, programs such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or even Blogs. The significant differences between social media and traditional forms of communication are the reach, frequency and immediacy of the communication. Social networking and internet services have become a common form of communication both in the workplace and in our private lives. Social media's popularity stems from its ability to quickly reach many people on a global scale, which is the reason why DCSM/JPSU uses social media to pass on the organization's strategic information.

2. As with most things, social media is not always associated with positive outcomes. Many government agencies and corporations now have their own social media policies resulting from inappropriate comments being posted by their employees. Companies routinely use the Internet as part of job interviews to see what has been posted by perspective employees or to find out what type of social media groups of which they are a part. There are many reports of social media being used by employees to speak disparagingly about their employers and as many reports about the eventual retribution taken by these organizations, which has resulted in personal and professional censure and, in some cases, termination of employment.

3. While neither the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) nor this organization can, or will, dictate what forms of social media individuals may use, administration and/or disciplinary action can and will be taken for unprofessional behaviour, conduct or comments that may be associated with such use. It must be clearly understood that the inappropriate use of social media can have serious ramifications for the CAF; it can erode public trust, cause serious breeches of security and destroy team cohesion. Therefore, it is important to understand the policies, rules, regulations and standards of conduct that apply to what an individual in the CAF can post on social media sites; this includes personal sites such as Facebook. This policy provides the necessary guidance to ensure compliance with current regulations while at the same time, respecting personal freedom and rights. To help understand what appropriate or inappropriate content is the following "Dos and Don'ts" guidelines have been developed. Bear in mind, the list is not exhaustive and common sense must also prevail.


• Be aware that you are personally responsible for the content you post on your social networking sites. Remember that what you post will be public for a long time – protect your privacy.
• Ensure that your profile and the content you post reflect positively on your professional role in the CAF and JPSU.
• Be aware that your actions, posts or comments can reflect on the image of the CAF and the JPSU.
• Maintain confidentiality. Do not post protected or classified information about the Canadian Armed Forces or the JPSU.
• Be respectful of your chain of command, your supervisors, your peers and your subordinates.
• Ensure your profile and related content is consistent with how you wish to present yourself to your superiors, colleagues and Canadian citizens. Be aware that you are responsible for not only the content that you post, but also the content of your friends in which you are "tagged". This can include photos and comments which may present you or any associated activities in a negative context.
• Avoid comments or topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory to the CAF and the JPSU.


• Make disparaging comments or remarks, or criticize your chain of command, your supervisors, your peers or your subordinates.
• Use or make ethnic slurs, use profanity, direct personal insults or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace.
• Write anything that might reflect discredit on the CAF, JPSU or any of its members.
• Write anything that might discourage others or make them dissatisfied with their conditions or their employment.
• Disclose any protected or classified information, including location destination or route of travel.
• Disclose any military information or your views on any military subject.
• Provide your opinions on any military question that is under consideration by superior authorities.
• Take part in online discussions relating to orders, regulations or instructions issued by your superiors.

4. While this document provides you with a basic outline of the CAF policies and regulations concerning proper use of social media, it is not intended to duplicate all the information contained in the references listed above, rather to reiterate them. It is each individual's responsibility to read the references and understand the CAF's policy on the use of social media.


5. While reference D, DAOD 6002-7, speaks to the policy on the Internal Use of Social Media Technologies and dictates how an individual may use social media as part of their daily work, References A through C speak to an individuals responsibilities under the Queen's Regulations and Orders (QR&O) regarding an individuals' right to divulge their personal opinion and rules pertaining to the disclosure of information. These references are based on regulations under the National Defence Act (NDA) and contravention of these orders whether while on or off duty could result in disciplinary measures.

6. Every member of JPSU is responsible for being conversant with the content of this directive and references, and should seek clarification if there is any doubt as to the content of either this directive or references.


7. I have read and fully understand the contents of DCSM's/JPSU's policy on social media. I have read and understand the contents of QR&Os 19.14 and 19.36.

Date: ___________________ (d/m/yr)

Members Name (print): _____________________ Signature: ______________________

Supervisors Name (print): ____________________ Signature: _______________________


(1) No officer or non-commissioned member shall make remarks or pass criticism tending to bring a superior into contempt, except as may be necessary for the proper presentation of a grievance under Chapter 7 (Grievances). (15 June 2000)
(2) No officer or non-commissioned member shall do or say anything that:
1. if seen or heard by any member of the public, might reflect discredit on the Canadian Forces or on any of its members; or
2. if seen by, heard by or reported to those under him, might discourage them or render them dissatisfied with their condition or the duties on which they are employed.
(M) (29 May 2000 effective 15 June 2000)


(1) For the purposes of this article, the adjective "military" shall be construed as relating not only to the Canadian Forces but also to the armed forces of any country.
(2) Subject to article 19.375 (Communications to News Agencies), no officer or non-commissioned member shall without permission obtained under article 19.37 (Permission to Communicate Information):
1. publish in any form whatever or communicate directly or indirectly or otherwise disclose to an unauthorized person official information or the contents of an unpublished or classified official document or the contents thereof;
2. use that information or document for a private purpose;
3. publish in any form whatever any military information or the member's views on any military subject to unauthorized persons;
4. deliver publicly, or record for public delivery, either directly or through the medium of radio or television, a lecture, discourse or answers to questions relating to a military subject;
5. prepare a paper or write a script on any military subject for delivery or transmission to the public;
6. publish the member's opinions on any military question that is under consideration by superior authorities;
7. take part in public in a discussion relating to orders, regulations or instructions issued by the member's superiors;
8. disclose to an unauthorized person, without the authority of the department, agency or other body concerned, any information acquired in an official capacity while seconded, attached or loaned to that department, agency or other body;
9. furnish to any person, not otherwise authorized to receive them, official reports, correspondence or other documents, or copies thereof; or
10. publish in writing or deliver any lecture, address or broadcast in any dealing with a subject of a controversial nature affecting other departments of the public service or pertaining to public policy.
(3) This article does not apply to a writing, lecture, address or broadcast confined exclusively to members of the Canadian Forces.
(M)(25 May 2000 effective 15 June 2000)


CANFORGEN 136/06 CDS 050/06 011318Z SEP 06
REFS: A.QR AND O 19.36, 19.37, AND 19.375
B.DAOD 2008-1, 2008-4, AND 2008-6


DAOD 6002-7, Internal Use of Social Media Technologies
Table of Contents
1. Introduction
2. Definitions
3. Overview
4. Requirements
5. Responsibilities
6. References
1. Introduction
Date of Issue: 2012-07-25
Application: This DAOD is a directive that applies to employees of the Department of National Defence (DND employees) and an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces (CF members).
Approval Authority: Assistant Deputy Minister (Information Management) (ADM(IM))
Enquiries: Director Information Management Policy and Standards (DIMPS)
Top of Page
2. Definitions
blog (blogue)
Has the same meaning as in section 9 of the Treasury Board Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada.
community leads (leaders communautaires)
Has the same meaning as in section 9 of the Treasury Board Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada.
internal collaboration (collaboration interne)
Has the same meaning as in section 9 of the Treasury Board Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada.
social media (médias sociaux)
A set of web-based tools and services that permits participants with distinct user profiles to create, share and interact with user-generated content, including text, images, video and audio.
wiki (wiki)
Has the same meaning as in section 9 of the Treasury Board Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada.
Top of Page
3. Overview
3.1 The use of social media within the Government of Canada (GC) includes the use of blogs, wikis, communities of practice, fora and other collaborative technologies. These technologies are used to enhance the agility and breadth of consultation within communities of interest by providing a participative environment that permits reviewing, editing and commenting on shared content.
3.2 DND and CF communities of practice may establish internal social media sites to:
a. improve service performance and integrate service delivery;
b. achieve efficiencies in the preparation, accessibility and dissemination of information; and
c. foster interactive communications and facilitate consultation in the development and delivery of policies, programs, services and initiatives.
3.3 Treasury Board has established the Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada to provide practical advice and guidance on the implementation and acceptable use of the social media technologies internal to the GC.
3.4 This DAOD is part of the DND and CF IM and IT Policy Framework and should be read in conjunction with other relevant ADM(IM) policies, instructions, directives, standards and guidance.
3.5 The objective of this DAOD is to establish the roles and responsibilities for the effective internal DND and CF use of social media technologies.
Expected Results
3.6 The expected results of this DAOD in the DND and the CF are the following:
a. increased use of internal collaborative technologies to improve decision-making processes;
b. improved efficiencies in approval processes based on a collaborative development approach; and
c. increased awareness of the legislation, policies, directives, standards and guidelines that apply to the use of internal social media technologies.
Top of Page
4. Requirements
Information Management and Recordkeeping
4.1 Most social media technologies do not include recordkeeping functionality for the proper retention and disposition of information of business value. Community leads must therefore ensure that any such information is added to the appropriate recordkeeping repository, and profiled in accordance with the DAOD 6001 series.
Standards for Web Usability and Accessibility
4.2 The rules set out in the Treasury Board Standard on Web Usability and the Standard on Web Accessibility must be applied when implementing social media technologies.
Official Languages
4.3 The Treasury Board Directive on the Use of Official Languages in Electronic Communications applies to all internal social media sites. Interfaces must therefore be implemented according to language-of-work designations, but contributors may add content in either official language.
Access to Information and Privacy
4.4 All information posted to internal social media sites is subject to the provisions of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act. Site user agreements must inform and remind contributors of the applicability of these Acts.
Defence Ethics
4.5 While using internal social media sites, DND employees and CF members must conduct themselves professionally and ethically, and comply with DAOD 7023-1, Defence Ethics Program.
Acceptable Use
4.6 As the internal use of social media technologies requires access to the defence intranet, DND employees and CF members must comply with DAOD 6002-2, Acceptable Use of the Internet, Defence Intranet, Computers and Other Information Systems. There should be no expectation of privacy when using internal social media sites.
Communications and Public Affairs
4.7 The Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs) is the functional authority for communication and public affairs programmes for DND and the CF, including the management of Internet publishing and advising on internal communications. DAOD 2008-0, Public Affairs Policy, and DAOD 2008-6, Internet Publishing, provide the operating principles required for community leads and technical administrators to implement and monitor internal social media sites.
Personal Information and Opinions
4.8 Personal information such as résumés, educational credentials, home addresses, personal identifiers and photographs should not be posted to internal social media sites. However, the Privacy Act states that certain types of personal information are excluded from the definition for purposes of use and disclosure, and therefore do not need to be protected. DND employees and CF members may choose to share this excluded information, which is detailed in paragraph 6.3 of the Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada.
4.9 Personal opinions that relate to the position and functions of the individual as a DND employee or CF member that would have normally been expressed in the course of their duties may be expressed on internal social media sites. In expressing personal opinions, individuals must be respectful of other contributors and of their contributions.
Top of Page
5. Responsibilities
Responsibility Table
5.1 The following table identifies the responsibilities associated with this DAOD:
The ... is or are responsible for ...
Director General Enterprise Application Services ? providing lifecycle management and technical support of internal social media technology platforms; and
? developing standards for the management of such platforms.
community leads ? informing participants of all applicable legislation, policies, directives, standards, guidelines and other requirements prior to granting access to an internal social media site;
? managing site accounts and settings for appropriate access control;
? monitoring site content for appropriateness and compliance with DAOD 2008-0, DAOD 5039-0, Official Languages, and DAOD 7023-1; and
? ensuring that information of business value is included in the approved information management repository, in accordance with the DAOD 6001 series.
DND employees and CF members ? ensuring their contributions to internal social media sites are in accordance with DAOD 2008-0, DAOD 6002-2 and DAOD 7023-1; and
? complying, prior to using internal social media sites, with any additional or specific terms set out by their internal administrators.
Top of Page
6. References
Acts, Regulations, Central Agency Policies and Policy DAOD
? Access to Information Act
? Official Languages Act
? Privacy Act
? Communications Policy of the Government of Canada, Treasury Board
? Policy on Information Management, Treasury Board
? Policy on Management of Information Technology, Treasury Board
? Directive on Privacy Practices, Treasury Board
? Directive on Recordkeeping, Treasury Board
? Directive on the Use of Official Languages in Electronic Communications, Treasury Board
? Directive on the Use of Official Languages on Web Sites, Treasury Board
? Guideline for External Use of Web 2.0, Treasury Board
? Guideline to Acceptable Use of Internal Wikis and Blogs Within the Government of Canada, Treasury Board
? Standard on Web Accessibility, Treasury Board
? Standard on Web Usability, Treasury Board
? DAOD 6002-0, Information Technology
Other References
? DAOD 1001-0, Access to Information
? DAOD 1002-0, Personal Information
? DAOD 2008-0, Public Affairs Policy
? DAOD 2008-6, Internet Publishing
? DAOD 5039-0, Official Languages
? DAOD 6001-0, Information Management
? DAOD 6002-2, Acceptable Use of the Internet, Defence Intranet, Computers and Other Information Systems
? DAOD 7023-1, Defence Ethics Program
? DND and CF IM and IT Policy Framework
? DND/CF Guidelines for the External Use of Social Media

DAOD 7023-1, Defence Ethics Program
Date of Issue 2001-06-26
Date of
Modification 2003-09-01
Application This is a directive that applies to employees of the Department of National Defence ("DND employees"), and an order that applies to officers and non-commissioned members of the Canadian Forces ("CF members").
Authority This DAOD is issued under the authority of the Chief of Review Services (CRS).
Enquiries Director Ethics Program (DEP)

General The Defence Ethics Program (DEP) provides a framework to assist DND employees and CF members in maintaining the highest ethical standards of conduct and leadership. A number of tools, supporting policies and guidelines assist DND employees and CF members in implementing the DEP and in meeting the ethical challenges they may face.
The DEP is a values-based program which considers the unique circumstances and requirements of the DND and the CF, and aims to foster the internalization of ethical principles. The values represented in the Statement of Defence Ethics are consistent with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and the A-PA-005-000/AP-000, Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada manual. A values-based approach places importance on the core ethical values and principles of the organization and uses them as a guide for professional conduct, rather than merely focusing on compliance with rules.
Statement of Defence Ethics The Statement of Defence Ethics at Annex A provides:
• an objective standard upon which to base ethical expectations; and
• guidance for ethical decision-making and conduct.

Defence Ethics Program
Objectives The objectives of the DEP are to:
• foster an ethical culture within the DND and the CF;
• establish and maintain a program framework which clearly defines the desired ethics culture, provides a clear program management structure with sufficient resources, and articulates a clear set of goals;
• define, establish and maintain, within the program framework, an effective ethics process that is relevant to the culture of the DND and the CF;
• provide a framework and context for the ongoing administration and application of policies on conflict of interest; post-employment; gifts, hospitality and other benefits; and sponsorships and donations; and
• establish mechanisms and assistance to help DND employees and CF members raise, discuss and resolve ethical issues.
Ethics Advisory
Board The Ethics Advisory Board (EAB) shall be established under the direction of CRS, and shall consist of persons appointed as ethics coordinators by each environmental chief of staff (ECS) and group principal, and others so designated by CRS.
Defence Ethics
Program Elements The DEP consists of the following elements:
• a clear communication of ethics policy, expectations and guidance;
• a clear requirement for leadership commitment, example and program participation, along with a means for assessment and management of organizational ethical risk and handling of ethics casework;
• a motivational strategy which provides for incentives, program awareness, ethics training, individual self-learning, discussion and open dialogue;
• a range of tools to assist DND employees and CF members in recognizing ethical situations and making ethical decisions;
• a safe and flexible range of options to voice concerns or express an ethical voice, that is consistent with varying ethical situations and circumstances;
• a flexible range of compliance measures to provide for prompt resolution of ethical concerns, consistent with varying situations and circumstances;
• an oversight mechanism that includes performance measurement; and
• a program improvement mechanism to enact program changes as identified and required.

Responsibility Table The following table identifies the responsibilities for implementing the DEP:
The … is/are responsible for …
CRS • the development, implementation and administration of the DEP;
• chairing personally, or through an authorized representative, the EAB;
• providing overall training and awareness support to other Level 1 Advisors, as set out in the Defence Plan On-Line, and ensuring authorized ethics coordinators are trained to an established minimum standard;
• providing a center of expertise, guidance and advice on ethics and the DEP for senior management and other clients;
• reviewing the ethics implementation plans of other Level 1 Advisors to ensure that DEP requirements are incorporated, appropriate performance indicators have been established, and follow-up analysis is provided against those performance indicators;
• maintaining liaison with all significant collateral DND programs or organizations having impact on ethical issues to ensure consistency with DEP policy;
• maintaining liaison with ethics experts in other government departments, allied countries and the private sector;
• assisting, as the designated senior official, DND employees and CF members with the resolution of ethical issues; and
• advising DND employees and CF members annually about their ethical responsibilities.
other Level 1 Advisors
• implementing the DEP within their areas of responsibility;
• appointing ethics coordinators within their respective organizations;
• ensuring the maintenance of ethics implementations plans that include DEP elements and that appropriate oversight and monitoring is conducted; and
• ensuring DEP elements and ethics training are included in all applicable training programs.
Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources-Military) (ADM(HR-Mil))
• supporting chaplain, social work and other applicable social programs in the development and implementation of the DEP.
• overall coordination and monitoring of the DEP;
• communicating program status and issues to CRS, the Deputy Minister (DM) and Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), as required;
• input to, and review of, DEP policy and guidance;
• identifying the need for specialized ethics tools, documents and standards;
• monitoring, reviewing, recommending and advising training institutions and applicable programs on appropriate ethics training;
• reviewing, approving and advising on the development of performance indicators; and
• identifying improvement opportunities and developing appropriate action plans.
Level 1 ethics coordinators
• providing guidance, direction and input on DEP implementation;
• providing advice to personnel within their organization on ethical issues;
• monitoring and reporting on the accomplishment of program objectives within their organization;
• working closely with public affairs officers to incorporate ethics material in internal communications, including the dissemination of information on ethics policies, issues and trends;
• ensuring the incorporation of an ethics component into business plans, training, orientation and educational programs;
• participating as members of the EAB; and
• having direct access to their respective Level 1 Advisor to provide oversight, advice and implementation support.
supervisors (within their areas of responsibility)
• ensuring adherence to ethical standards;
• providing ethics awareness and dialogue; and
• ensuring understanding of their unique ethical risks and mitigation requirements.
DND employees
• ensuring that they comply as a condition of their employment with the Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service and exemplify, in all their actions and behaviours, the values of the public service; and
• respecting and applying the principles and obligations in the Statement of Defence Ethics.
CF members
• respecting and applying the principles and obligations in the Statement of Defence Ethics.

• Values and Ethics Code for the Public Service
• A-PA-005-000/AP-000, Duty with Honour: The Profession of Arms in Canada
• Statement of Defence Ethics (Annex A to this DAOD)
• DAOD 7023-0, Defence Ethics

• Report to the Prime Minister on the Leadership and Management of the Canadian Forces, 25 March 1997
• Terms of Reference for the Defence Ethics Program, 21 December 1997
• Fundamentals of Canadian Defence Ethics
• DAOD 7021-0, Conflict of Interest and Post-Employment
• DAOD 7021-1, Conflict of Interest
• DAOD 7021-2, Post-Employment
• DAOD 7021-3, Acceptance of Gifts, Hospitality and Other Benefits
• DAOD 7021-4, Sponsorships and Donations
• Defence Plan On-Line

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

New announcement: CPAC: Homecoming: The Casualties of War

CPAC: Homecoming: The Casualties of War


An exclusive look into war's secondary and often overlooked battlefield – the homefront. Hosted by Esprit de Corps' Magazine's Scott Taylor, Homecoming: The Casualties of War offers an in-depth examination of the emotional and psychological suffering of Canada's soldiers returning from the War in Afghanistan and families of the fallen.

Featuring interviews with General Walter Natynczyk, Senator Romeo Dallaire and a number of veterans who fought for the country, the hour-long documentary explores post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), survivor's guilt, anxiety and other illnesses that continue to plague soldiers after the military battle ends. See what private and public services and support systems are in place to assist thousands returning from a decade-long war in which 158 Canadian lives were lost.

- See more at:

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Veterans Advocate Harold Leduc MMM CD

From veterans advocate Harold Leduc MMM CD.

Be advised that I consider Harold a friend and one of my most trusted advisors. I would also remind veterans that Harold was there as a formal stakeholder at the time of the NVC conception, his knowledge of the subject matter is not in dispute, nor is his commitment to his nation's veterans.

Please read, copy and paste and disseminate as widely as possible. He is our brother, he has asked for help, now stand to.

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

Good day All,

Please give this email the widest possible distribution.

My mission is to expose you to some little known facts about how the NVC came into being and why we're denied other essential benefits with a view to opening a meaningful dialogue within the veterans community on this topic. A dialogue that will help us collectively reach an understanding of the problems before any further recommendations are made to Parliament. However first we have to get our community house in order so we can effectively apply our collective knowledge, wisdom, energy and above all our understanding of veterans issues so we can help the veterans community to the best of our ability. We must make the concept of 'One Veteran' a reality and give real meaning to the words of the 'Veterans Bill of Rights'.

For those who don't know me, I've also put in a lot of time and energy into advocating for veterans rights like so many of you over an extended period of time and offer this short introduction as background information only. I retired from 22 years service with the PPCLI and Canadian Airborne Regiment. Following release in 1992, I was an executive member of CPVA and it's National President from 1999 until being appointed to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board in 2005. During that time I was involved in a number of projects with VAC, DND, the Senate and Government that brought positive change for CF veterans and their families including:
- paving the way for the OSISS program and establishing the VAC 1-800 assistance line,
- establishing the VAC-Canadian Forces Advisory Council to build a suite of programs for all CF veterans including the disabled.
VAC and the Government recognized my unique understanding of veterans legislation and programs by:
- asking me to consider writing a discussion paper to help VAC meet the needs of CF veterans and their families,
- appointing me to the VRAB in 2005 (Liberals) and reappointing me in 2007 (Conservatives),
- interviewing me for the position of Canada's first Veterans Ombudsman, an office I helped others create.

The following is written from personal observations, first hand experience and after numerous discussions with veterans across the country. I apologize in advance for the length of this discussion paper because it is long and detailed. It may be easier to absorb in smaller chunks over more than one read before responding.

I'll stand by my version of the facts while appreciating that others may have different points of view. To that end, I encourage respectful, objective factually supported comments or questions to address my comments and engage in open dialogue to clear the air.

I understand that the RCL and OVO's recent consultations are aimed at providing the Parliamentary Committee on Veterans Affairs with recommendations this fall on how to address some problems with the NVC through an incremental process; similar in scope to previous approaches that does not seem to address the fundamental problems with the NVC or the denial of other benefits. Is it time to try a new way to approach government?

I remember a discussion with the Minister of Veterans Affairs on the eve of the NVC coming into force in 2005, where I raised the fact that the NVC falls short on it's promises. The Minister said that the CDS Rick Hillier signed off on it so there should be no concerns. The Minister also admitted that the CDS was not told the the NVC took away life long disability pensions. The NVC was born in controversy.

So if the CDS was duped, who else did VAC dupe in 'marketing' the NVC? There is no question that the NVC brought welcomed and much needed benefits for both CF Pension Act pensioners and NVC lump sum recipients. So why are veterans still complaining after nine years? Why is the veterans community divided over it, not addressing the root problems and not engaging in wider consultation on the greater issues? Why is the NVC less generous to it's lump sum recipients and their families than Pension Act beneficiaries? What can we do as a community to fix the problems? I'm getting ahead of myself.

Were you aware that NVC re-esatblishment benefits were intended to be available to all veterans who had a 'transition' need and not just a 'medical need' as the current policy? I'm certain you will agree that it would be helpful to learn why this and other changes were made without consultation and what went on behind the scenes to get a better appreciation of why the NVC is still controversial.

During the time period leading up to the establishment of the NVC, VAC acknowledged that CF veterans including the disabled were denied re-establishment benefits since 1950 including equal access to benefits like long term care, VIP and Last Post Fund. They also acknowledged that the RCMP and civilians who served overseas were also entitled to veterans benefits but they would get to all of that later because their primary focus was on overtaking the SISIP program and meeting the transition needs of disabled currently serving CF members and their families. How did we make out?

On 23 March 2001, the late Ron Duhamel, Minister of Veterans Affairs provided an inclusive definition of who qualified as a veteran in Canada. The Government's definition of a veteran is a person who held a military occupation code and was honourably discharged [paraphrase]. It is a brilliant definition because it includes veterans past, present and future creating Canada's concept of 'One Veteran'. So why aren't all veterans treated or advocated for equally if that and the following was and is also known:

All active service veterans are equal under the law
1. in 1999 VAC suggested organizations get in stride with CPVA's research and approach that was aimed at qualifying CF veterans for existing VAC benefits
2. In the early 2000's the Justice Department (JD) confirmed that all active service veterans (WWI, Korea and CF) are equal under the law.
3. this legal opinion was solicited by VAC following CPVA's presentation to the VAC-CFAC.
4. without a visible legal opinion to contradict the JD's opinion a different standard of benefits for CF veterans was solicited as seen in the VAC-CFAC 2004 discussion paper, recommendation 16, page 6 at the following link
5. VAC did a cost analysis of CPVA's findings to find that it would cost $4 billion to treat CF veterans equal under section 21(1) of the Pension Act alone, not counting the cost of rehabilitation and other programs all CF veterans including the disabled are/were entitled to since 1950.
6. VAC admitted that they have a duty to provide benefits for all CF veteran not just the disabled.
7. the lump sum and denial of other benefits is the result of the represented organization's and other participants ignoring human rights law and the Justice Department's legal opinion.
8. disabled veterans at the VAC-CFAC table were collecting Pension Act benefits but did not protest the lump sum benefits (media broadcasts).

Long term care, VIP and Last Post Fund benefits
1. the Government has agreed since the 1990's that CF active service veterans qualify for these three benefits programs including admission to VAC's existing long term care facilities.
2. the ANAVets, NCVA, and RCL were aware but put WWII Allied veterans ahead of CF veterans and their families. The information at the following website refers
3. the three organizations boycotted the VAC-CFAC among other things to force the Minister's hand to qualify the WWII Allied veterans and denying the same benefits for qualified CF active service veterans.
4. the DM VAC at the time advised CAVUNP, CPVA and the GWVA to distance themselves from ANAVets, NCVA and the RCL's WWII agenda.
5. VAC is shutting down the programs in veterans facilities knowing that CF veterans were duped out of them. The ANAVets, NCVA and RCL are watching it happen without intervention.

1. there were no comprehensive studies conducted by VAC, VAC-CFAC or the Modernization Task Force to prove that lump sum benefits were more effective than Pension Act benefits. In fact, they had conclusive evidence to the contrary including the VAC Gerontological report.
2. senior VAC bureaucrats like Darragh Mogan led people to believe that a change from the Pension Act benefits for CF veterans was required because Parliament's amendment to the Pension Act allowing CF members to collect disability benefits while still serving was putting a strain on the Pension Act money. There is no conclusive evidence to support that position.
3. the NVC is a duplicate of SISP programs because VAC made it clear in the 1990's that they wanted to overtake SISIP. This means that NVC programs are based on a for profit insurance company model rather than the more generous social contract model consistent with the spirit and intent of veterans legislation meeting the test of human rights law.
4. VAC's plan was to become the disability management department for federal government agencies like the RCMP, Corrections, Customs, etc. That is why language on the generous nature of veterans legislation found in places like section 2 of the Pension Act and section 3 of the VRAB Act are nowhere to be found in the NVC.
5. I've witnessed and understand there may be more incidents where the RCL was found advocating with VAC to become service provider for NVC programs while advocating lesser benefits for CF veterans. Evidence is found in VAC documentation.
6. veterans organizations were duped by the Minister into believing that they would have an opportunity to amend the NVC during the normal legislative process of bringing the Bill into force in 2005. The Bill was rammed through the process and the opportunity denied yet none of the organizations agreed to protest. Instead, they went before the Media and Senate committee supporting the NVC without knowing it's consequences.
7. the Justice Department is currently before the courts for not appropriately screening new legislation created under the past Liberal and current Conservative governments for human rights deficiencies as is their duty. The NVC was created during that time and rushed past any government check and balance process.
8. the NVC and Enhanced NVC Act have not gone though the necessary human rights law screening yet the involved organizations and individuals many of whom collect Pension Act benefits support the creation of different classes of disabled veterans despite the issue being challenged in the court. The Legion's 8 May 2013 letter given wide distribution stands as evidence.
9. the NVC is being challenged in the courts by Miller Thompson and Equitas to address the above Charter of Rights concerns. The RCL has a letter of support posted on the Equitas webpage.
10. veterans collecting Pension Act disability benefits are entitled to most rehab and financial benefits of the NVC and Enhanced NVC Act therefore have greater advantage over lump sum recipients.
11. The Pension Act is always legally speaking as the legislation to compensate disabled veterans and their families. Therefore there was no legal basis for the government to create the discriminatory and problematic Part III of the NVC.her benefits of the NVC
12. the NVC is being marketed as an inclusive legislation meaning that all parts are dependent upon one another. That is simply not true because veterans with 100% Pension Act benefits also qualify for NVC and Enhanced NVC Act rehab and other benefits.
13. veterans organizations and individuals involved in these consultations may be contravening the Canadian Human Rights Act by advocating for incremental fixes to the NVC without addressing the greater Constitution and human rights concerns.

It's difficult to understand why the RCL will threaten to sue people over the respectful use of poppy images but won't sue the government for abusing or discriminating against CF active service veterans and their families. There are obviously good reasons and it would be helpful if they could be explained. The following story is an example

In light of the above and anything you may wish to add, comments on the following questions are encouraged to get the dialogue going and clear the air:
1. How can veterans representing others at the consultation table justify supporting the lump sum benefits for others while collecting Pension Act benefits for themselves?
2. What do the participants in the consultation groups hope to achieve by not filtering their suggestions and recommendations through the lens of human rights laws, the Veterans Bill of Rights and the concept of 'One Veteran'?
3. Can an organization objectively advocate for disabled while supporting a discriminatory agenda or advocating to become a VAC service provider? Are organizations in a conflict of interest if they take money from the government while lobbying against it?
4. Do the representatives participating in the consultation groups have the authority to represent all veterans and their families or their memberships only?
5. How would the organizations suggest opening communications and consultations between our three social contract partners (the Government, people of Canada and us) to ensure broader inclusive participation in addressing veterans issues?
6. What will the ANAVets, RCL and NCVA do to repair the damage caused by their putting non-Canadian military service veterans ahead of qualified CF active service veterans and their families for access to long term care facilities, equality for VIP benefits and equal access to Last Post Fund burial benefits to level the playing field?
7. Has the status quo worked in addressing the greater problems of the NVC when compared to the actual needs of veterans and their families to date? What can we do as a community to improve how we are represented?

Don't you think CF veterans and their families have suffered discrimination long enough? Shouldn't we benefit from lessons learned and not repeat the same mistakes that got us into this problem in the first place? Your voice is important to help move the community forward.

We can only hope that your rich, transparent, factual and respectful feedback will expose the root problems to help fix the division and discrimination in the veterans community, make the concept of 'One Veteran" a reality and bring credibility to the words of the 'Veterans Bill of Rights'.

The bottom line is that all veterans are equal under the law therefore CF veterans and their family's deserve equal benefits. Anything less is not acceptable.

I look forward to your comments and thoughts. Don't miss the opportunity to be heard.


Harold Leduc, MMM, CD.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New announcement: Sean Casey, MP 70 % of Veterans Affairs Committee meetings held in secret

Statement by Sean Casey, MP
70 % of Veterans Affairs Committee meetings held in secret

June 21, 2013:
The recent sitting of the House of Commons ended Tuesday evening, and is scheduled to resume September 16th, 2013.

I wanted to write a bit about my parliamentary responsibilities, specifically my role as Liberal Party spokesperson for Veterans Affairs.

As many of you know, I have the honour of being the opposition critic for veterans issues in Parliament and being the MP for the riding that houses the national headquarters of the department of Veteran Affairs.

Twice weekly, while Parliament is in session, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs meets in a room one floor below the actual Chamber.

The Veterans Committee is under the complete control of the Prime Minister's Office. On the Committee, there are 7 Conservative MPs, one who sits as the Chair, 4 New Democrats and finally, me - the lone Liberal.

The hyper secretive Conservatives decided a long time ago that the Committee would avoid, at all costs, dealing with substantive issues. My efforts to discuss cuts to staff at VAC and its impact on veterans were continually thwarted. Dare to suggest public hearings on matters important to veterans, for example, the New Veterans Charter - the Conservatives would repeatedly shut me down.

So, in place of addressing real issues, the Prime Minister's Office created "make work" projects to keep Conservatives MPs "busy". As a result, the Conservative dominated Veterans Affairs Committee accomplished very little of substance this year. And that was the government`s intent from the beginning.

Even more troubling is the government's efforts to keep most of our meetings out of public view, choosing to have secret meetings instead of public ones. Since September of 2012, to present, there have been 34 meetings of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Less than 30% of those meetings were open to the public. The remaining 70% were either held in complete secrecy or, would revert to secret session at the demand of the Conservatives.

For the record, I opposed all secret meetings that should have been held in public.

Now, some of you may ask: what happens in these secret meetings? Well, the rules of the Committee and Parliament forbid me from disclosing anything. And that is exactly the point. The Conservatives don't want you to know what is happening.

Secret meetings now reign. Regrettably, this is what Parliament has become under Stephen Harper. And this tendency to operate in secret is repeated across the board at most parliamentary committees. It is anti-democratic, and frankly, un-Canadian.

Let's remember though, that is was Stephen Harper who once said that by the time he is done, we won't recognize Canada. Sadly, he is keeping his word.

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Local resident wants 2014 declared as Year of the Veteran in the Comox Valley

Local resident wants 2014 declared as Year of the Veteran in the Comox Valley

By Michael Briones, Comox Valley Echo June 21, 2013

local resident has volunteered to lead an effort to have 2014 declared as the Year of the Veteran in Courtenay and the Comox Valley.

Lewis Bartholomew, the founder and director of The Alberni Project, wrote to Mayor Larry Jangula of his idea and has invited the city to become involved.

He pointed out that as of today, there is still no national holiday honouring the country's veterans, who are still alive.

Remembrance Day, he explained, is a holiday that has been designated to recognize the Supreme Sacrifice.

"There's no day that has been set aside to honour those men and women and their families of today's wars and peacekeeping missions," Bartholomew wrote in his letter.

Next year will be the 70th anniversary of D Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. It will also coincide with the sinking of HMCS Alberni.

Bartholomew is willing to spearhead a regional celebration for veterans next June 6.

"This is something that a yearlong campaign, complete with logo and events can be held locally which will not only be great for our local veterans, but also for the local economy and national attention on Courtenay and the Comox Valley rising to this occasion," he said.

Courtenay councillor Jon Ambler said that 2014 will also mark the 100th year anniversary of the start of the First World War and feels Bartholomew's plan would be a "worthwhile" project the city can look into.

Ambler asked staff whether the city has a policy on making declarations.

City's chief administrative officer David Allen was not able to give an immediate answer but would report back to council.

Counc. Doug Hillian considers the plan to be a big challenge for one community to undertake.

"I'm not sure why one community would do it apart from something perhaps a nation would do," Hillian asked. "Beyond that I don't have a problem with it."

Bartholomew aims to draw on the programs of other groups, associations and individuals that focus on Canadian veterans.

"I want to utilize their programs in one single event which puts focus on a less somber view of veterans, one in which veterans and their families are celebrated instead of mourned," Bartholomew said.

With combined efforts of CFB Comox, Royal Canadian Legions, local governments, and other groups like the Canadian Veterans advocacy, Bartholomew feels it will be seen as a good gesture to local veterans that the region is "paying attention and that we do honour them every day, not just on the dark day of November 11."

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

New announcement: Veteran Affairs eliminates nearly 300 jobs in deficit-reduction fight

Veteran Affairs eliminates nearly 300 jobs in deficit-reduction fight

By: The Canadian Press

Posted: 5:15 PM | Comments: 1 | Last Modified: 7:42 PM

OTTAWA - Nearly 300 positions at Veterans Affairs Canada are being eliminated as a result of measures in the 2012 federal budget.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada, the union representing the federal workers, was served with a letter June 17 notifying it that 297 positions are "affected" by the reoganization.

Of those 224 jobs will actually be cut, as opposed to be reallocated.

The department's headquarters on P.E.I., locations in Ottawa and field offices across the country will be affected by the measures.

The vast majority of the reductions — 153 — will be made in Charlottetown.

The overhaul of the department will take until 2015, and the Harper government has consistently said it will not affect services to ex-members of the military and the RCMP.

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney said the affected positions are information technology and communications, and do not affect client services.

"As promised we are maintaining and improving service as well as the delivery of our services and benefits to Veterans and we are confident that these back office reductions can be managed through the close to 700 employees eligible to retire in the coming years," said Niklaus Schwenker in an email.

But the union isn't buying it, noting the federal government recently signed a $318-million contract with a private, for-profit company to deliver some services being chopped in the public sector.

Officials say many veterans are losing access to front-line, face-to-face service from public service workers, and instead are being told to call a toll-free number or use a computer at a Service Canada office.

"The reduction of front-line staff at Veterans Affairs is being made on the backs of their clients, the veterans — the heroes of our nation, the men and women who have sacrificed their health and lives for the safety and security of Canadians," Yvan Thauvette, president of the Union of Veterans Affairs Employees, said in a statement.

"The needs of veterans are becoming greater and more complex, requiring collaboration between provincial and federal departments. Employees are working with fewer resources with more complex legislation and programs."

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

New announcement: Navy brass demands veterans seek permission to wear uniforms at ceremonies and p

Navy brass demands veterans seek permission to wear uniforms at ceremonies and public functions


Canada's navy brass is lowering the hammer on veterans who are wearing their uniforms to ceremonial and other public functions, demanding that they receive permission in writing before doing so.

But the June 13 directive from the head of the Royal Canadian Navy has the potential to create a public relations nightmare in which elderly veterans who wear their old naval uniforms at Remembrance Day and other anniversary functions are told they are violating military rules.

A number of serving military personnel forwarded the directive to the Citizen, adding that they worry such a decree is unworkable or will backfire on the navy if it tries to prevent Second World War or Korean War veterans from wearing their uniforms during memorial events.

"Requests by former RCN service members to wear uniforms, including mess dress, will be considered on a case-by-case basis," wrote navy commander Vice Admiral Paul Maddison in the message now being circulated to units and veterans groups. "Such approval shall be limited to exceptional circumstances where the wearing of the uniform is necessary and will favorably contribute to the RCN."

The commander of the RCN is the only one with the authority to permit non-active navy members to wear uniforms, he added.

The message also noted that local units do not have the ability to give veterans permission to wear uniforms.

A navy spokesman said that the service plans to issue a response to the Citizen's questions submitted Tuesday but that it still has to receive approval before releasing that to the newspaper. Under a system put in place by the Conservative government and Defence Department leadership, that approval process can take anywhere from several days to a month.

The navy already has in place a policy that requires veterans who want to wear their uniforms to seek permission. It, however, has not been strictly enforced.

But military sources say the impetus for Maddison's message was an event honouring the navy and commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic, held at the Canadian War Museum in early May. A number of retired admirals attended in their mess uniforms even though they did not have permission to do so.

Serving officers objected to that and a number of heated emails were exchanged between the navy and retired officers after the event. Emotions are still running high, say sources, with one former senior officer threatening to return his medals because of the dispute.

Mess uniforms are specially designed tuxedos for formal occasions. They meet military specifications and officers pay for the uniforms themselves.

Maddison's message notes that the authority to permit the wearing of such mess dress for former service members lies solely with the head of the navy.

Mess dinners, in general, do not warrant the wearing of uniforms by former navy members, he added.

Requests to wear uniforms must now be sent to navy headquarters far enough in advance so approval can be issued. Blanket requests for events will not be considered except in the most exceptional circumstances, the message added.

Andrew Warden, a spokesman for the Navy League of Canada said in an email that in regard to the uniform policy for recently retired members, "the Navy League supports current DND policies relating to the wearing of uniforms by retired members."

He suggested the Royal Canadian Legion would be better able to speak about how the issue might affect veterans.

Legion spokesman Bruce Poulin, however, said since the organization has not yet seen Maddison's message it cannot comment.

Another source said that "technically speaking" the elderly veterans who wear their navy uniforms on Remembrance Day and at other ceremonial events are supposed to obtain permission but rarely do. If Maddison's directive is followed to the letter, those veterans could be challenged, the source added.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Minister Blaney joins The Royal in Launching New Mobile App for Veterans

I strongly recommend this app... There's lots of info.... If you have any comments on the app, please email me. I will pass it on the OSI Ottawa Team....


[size=12pt][u][b]Minister Blaney joins The Royal in Launching New Mobile App for Veterans[/b][/u][/size]

Published: June 18, 2013

Read more here:

OTTAWA, June 18, 2013 — /CNW/ - The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, today joined Dr. Raj Bhatla, Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Chief of Staff of the Royal Ottawa Health Care Group (The Royal), to launch a new mobile application that will assist Veterans, personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with operational stress injuries (OSIs). The app, called OSI Connect, provides information and assistance for people living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, substance abuse and other types of OSIs, as well as their family members.

"Our Government commends The Royal and its OSI clinic for providing support and information at the touch of a button for those who are suffering as a result of their service to Canada," said Minister Blaney. "In collaboration with the OSI Clinic Network, this new app will make a real difference for our nation's heroes who are living with PTSD or other operational stress injuries."

OSI Connect was created by the Royal Ottawa OSI Clinic, which is one of 10 OSI clinics across Canada funded by VAC. The app is also a resource for professionals who work with individuals who could be suffering from an OSI. They include physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, social workers and community workers at detox centres and homeless shelters.

"This mobile app is a new channel for Veterans and serving personnel in the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP to get information and resources on operational stress injuries without any stigma," said George Weber, President and CEO of The Royal, the only specialized mental health and academic health sciences centre of the OSI Clinic Network. "We hope it will encourage those who are suffering the very painful and disturbing effects of operational stress injuries and who may not be aware of services or how to go about getting help."

OSI clinics specialize in treating conditions that come from combat, high stress or operational fatigue. Each clinic has a dedicated professional team that includes psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health nurses, and other specialized clinicians who provide assessment, treatment, prevention and support. They use their knowledge of the military and police environments to develop personalized OSI treatment plans.

OSI Connect is free and available in English and French (Connexion TSO) from iTunes, BlackBerry and Android app stores.

SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, June 14, 2013

New announcement: Canadian soldiers volunteer in search for missing Canadian (ex CF) in Australia

Canadian soldiers volunteer in search for missing Canadian in Australia

Prabhdeep Srawn missing since May 13

The search for an Ontario man missing in a mountainous region of Australia is about to get a big boost from his military comrades, his family says.

Ten members of the Canadian Armed Forces are taking it upon themselves to head to Australia to search for Prabhdeep Srawn, who disappeared May 13 during a bushwalk in the Snowy Mountains southwest of the capital Canberra. The soldiers are not going in any official capacity with the Canadian Forces.

Dr. Tej Sahota, whose wife is Srawn's cousin, tweeted early Thursday that a number of the soldiers toured in the mountain regions of Afghanistan and have extensive experience.

The family is offering $100,000 to anyone who "rescues or recovers him" — but the soldiers want no part of the reward, Sahota says.

"They're going to bring back one of their own, and they were clear that for this, they wouldn't accept any payment," he said, adding that with the exception of one or two of them, none of the men had ever met Srawn.

The official search for the 25-year-old, who was a military reservist in Hamilton before moving to Australia, finished almost two weeks ago. His family moved to Brampton shortly after he moved.

Officials have said the chances of finding Srawn alive have decreased but his family has said it won't give up its efforts. They have repeatedly slammed efforts to find the missing man by Australian authorities.
'Infuriating, shocking and intolerable'

Srawn's cousin, Ruby Singh-Sahota met with members of the Australian High Commission to Canada on Wednesday.

"We have been greatly and deeply affected by our inability to see Prabh, to embrace him, to understand what has happened and how exactly to help him," Singh-Sahota said in a letter to the commission.

"And while this has caused us to ache and yearn for him, little has been as infuriating, shocking and intolerable as the number of painfully inefficient and inexcusably time consuming administrative hurdles we have encountered in trying to secure proper permissions to facilitate the private search."

Shortly after the meeting, Singh-Sahota tweeted that there had been "no commitment" from the high commission to help the family. She says she was told search teams don't usually search this long and the family was "acting out of desperation."

Srawn went missing just over a month ago. The Australian High Commission to Canada did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
'Cold-weather training' offers hope

Srawn's family and supporters still believe he could be found alive because he had extensive survivor training and hiking experience, Sahota told CBC News in an interview earlier this week, before the reward had been doubled.

Srawn was a Canadian Forces reservist from 2005 to 2011, belonging to the 31 Service Battalion's Hamilton Company. Sahota told CBC Hamilton that Srawn had risen to the rank of master corporal and was responsible for his own unit.

That unit did forced marches and cold weather training in northern Ontario, Sahota said.

"They would do sustained cold weather training, with like two or three weeks of being in the middle of the forest with minimal equipment as part of their training. His report indicates that he did all of that with flying colours," he said.

The unit would often train in temperatures as low as –25 C, Sahota added.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

New announcement: The NVC: Severely reducing veterans benefits through ‘improvements’ and ‘enhance

The New Veterans Charter: Severely reducing veterans benefits through 'improvements' and 'enhancements'
by Matt Luloff

Chapter I


Canada has a long and storied history with a reputation for punching above our collective weight in the international community. From Banting's discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes to Lester B. Pearson's brilliant peace brokering in his handling of the Suez Crisis, Canada asserts her relevance by demonstrating an ability to innovate, adapt and overcome despite the bleakest of odds. This is especially true of our military history.

Two hundred years ago, fifty-five years before Confederation, a rag-tag militia of British and French colonists assisted by Indigenous and Metis warriors fought off a coordinated and significantly larger American invading force maintaining the Canadian-American border. One hundred and thirty nine years later, at the Battle of Kapyong in Korea, Canada demonstrated unrelenting resolve while holding off a Chinese and Korean brigade for three days; an amazing feat considering the Canadian contingent was demonstrably smaller and suffered seemingly endless casualties. To this day, the Canadian Forces are highly regarded as amongst the best-trained and effective organizations in the world. However, when the mission is over and the soldier returns to civilian life, a new mission lays before the returning soldier, that of re-integrating into the society he or she fought to serve while making sense of their experiences in order to wield them to their advantage in the often difficult task of establishing an existence beyond the total institution of military service. The recently restored civilian, "for whom everything (was) provided by the state, (has lost), to a certain extent, his sense of personal responsibility" (McKelvey Bell, 1919). If it is the Government who is responsible for this transformation from civilian to soldier, should it not then be responsible for the transition in reverse? Most would agree, however the chasm between what the government is mandated to provide and what provisions are available to veterans is long, and wide, and growing longer and wider still.

Despite the contemporary and extensive media coverage regarding benefits available to veterans of the Canadian Forces, caring for our injured veterans through disability pensions coupled with vocational training is certainly not a pioneering or novel idea. During the First World War, the Tory-led Unionist government of Sir Robert Borden passed the War Measures Act creating the Department of Soldier's Civil Re-establishment. Borden's government proclaimed it as and indication of Canada's strong commitment to those who had sacrificed life and limb for the Commonwealth:

"The men by whose sacrifice and endurance the free institutions of Canada will be preserved must be re-educated where necessary and re-established on the land or in such pursuits or vocations as they may desire to follow. The maimed and the broken will be protected, the widow and the orphan will be helped and cherished. Duty and decency demand that those who are saving democracy shall not find democracy a house of privilege, or a school of poverty and hardship" (Veterans Affairs Canada – Canadian Forces Advisory Council, 2004)

The newly minted Department developed and delivered comprehensive programmes designed to support the injured financially, foster professional and personal development through education and vocational rehabilitation, with the end goal of returning them to some semblance of self-sufficiency. The programmes were, by most measures, heralded as a complete success. At the time, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported:

"as soon as the returned soldier who is crippled or rendered partially disabled by disease or injury can be made to realize that life still holds interests for him in the manufacturing, the educational, or the commercial world, and that there is a department which is ready to do everything necessary to help him overcome his handicap, so soon will a step forward have been made in connection with his rehabilitation and his return to useful civilian life. The knowledge that he can still be self-supporting in spite of the handicap of the loss of limbs or of other serious defects, assists him to regain pride in his own personal effort and encourages him to make a strong endeavour to become self-supporting" (McKelvey Bell, 1919)

Certainly many things have changed since 1919, and the Government of Canada's unfettered commitment to the injured soldier as demonstrated above is, quite regrettably, one of them.

Canada's decision to support the NATO International Security Assistance Force mission to Afghanistan was an undertaking the likes of which the Canadian Forces had not seen since the Korean War, both in the size and scope of the operation, and in the amount of casualties incurred in combat. From the time the first Canadian boots hit the hot sands of Kandahar to the declaration of the end of combat operations, 158 flag-draped coffins have returned to Canada to be received by grieving families. The impact on those who fought selflessly and tirelessly alongside international allies and survived the horrors of war is without a doubt immeasurable.

In addition, many Canadian forces members returned home with injuries including some who returned home with gruesome physical injuries, and others who returned haunted by the intensity and vicious violence of the conflict; both types of injuries afflicted some soldiers. The brave men and women who stood face-to-face with the Taliban and other armed factions across southern Kandahar were prepared to give everything, up to and including their lives, for their country. On their return, their country has an obligation to them as mandated by the contemporary incarnation of veteran's legislation, the Department of Veteran's Affairs Act, which charges the Minister with "the care, treatment or re-establishment in civil life of any person who served in the Canadian Forces" (The Governnment of Canada, 1984).

With an average of two thousand eight hundred troops deployed at any given time, Canada's mission in Afghanistan was producing a constant flow of new clients for the Department. In 2005, while Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Stephen Harper proclaimed to an audience of Legionnaires,

"all too often we hear stories of veterans who are ignored or disrespected by government. What a shameful way to treat men and women who risked their lives to defend Canada. This shame will end with the election of a new (Conservative) government" (CTV News, 2005)

But the shame did not end when Mr Harper became Prime Minister in February 2006. The first Tory government in over a decade, seemingly delivering on its promise with fervour and without delay, produced the New Veteran's Charter (NVC) exactly two months after forming government, created an office for a veteran's ombudsman, and introduced major changes to the financial assistance available to injured clients of the department. At the time, Harper hailed the legislation as a sign his government was "begin (ning) to do the right thing for Canada's servicemen and women" (Veterans Affairs Canada, 2006). The Minister of Veterans Affairs, The Honourable Greg Thompson proclaimed,

"The New Veterans Charter is the most profound transformation of Veterans' services and benefits since the end of the Second World War. It provides all the fundamental programs and services that CF Veterans and their families have told us they need as they transition from military to civilian life" (Ibid).

Even the officially non-partisan chief of the Canadian Forces, General Rick Hillier touted the NVC as "Canada's promise to invest in (veterans) futures" (Ibid). However it was the Minister of Veterans Affairs who was closest to the results in declaring the piece of legislation a transformation.

The government was presenting the NVC as an improvement to the antiquated Pension Act, however, the major changes represented a significant decrease in the amount of financial assistance available to injured veterans at a time when hundreds of soldiers were returning home afflicted with either or both physical injuries and Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI) (Aiken & Buithenhuis, 2011). In response, Michael Blais, CD, founded the Canadian Veterans Advocacy and organized an Annual Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest, attracting thousands of angry veterans to federal riding offices and to Parliament Hill in 2010 (Canadian Veterans Advocacy, 2012). The chief complaint regarding the new legislation was the decision to remove the Life-time Disability Pension mandated by the now-defunct Pension Act and replace it with a Lump Sum Disability Award. The common argument advocating for this change is that lump sum awards provide substantial and immediate support to the veteran. The trouble is the lump sum payment does not provide the guaranteed income security needed for veterans to re-establish themselves without financial strain. If the veteran is well-versed in investment banking and has access to the best advice possible, perhaps this option would be viable, however this scenario is highly unlikely considering the social circumstances of the modern veteran.

In response, the government introduced the Enhanced New Veteran's Charter Act, addressing some of the issues raised by concerned veterans and modifying the Lump Sum Disability Award. Rather than reverting to monthly pensions as demanded by Canadian Veterans Advocacy and many individual veterans, the government opted to change payment options for the Award to include a monthly instalment option, with the reasoning that veterans had difficulty managing a large sum of money (Veterans Affairs Canada, 2010). Still, the total amount awarded to the recipient would mirror the amount of the lump sum, giving very little incentive to prolong the pay out. In fact, the Government of Canada was scaling back the fiscal benefits to injured veterans, describing the changes as 'enhancements' and 'improvements,' purporting to be addressing the concerns regarding the NVC while only making token changes to the Act in order to give the impression of understanding and to placate the affected veterans. Additional cuts to the Veteran's Affairs budget were announced in the 2012 Federal Budget while the government maintains its unbridled "support" for those who fought for Canada. While these changes are presented by the government as a means to speed up the process by making large cuts to the "rampant bureaucracy" within the Department of Veterans Affairs, indeed having less direct support for veterans by closing District Offices and slashing staff would tend to provoke the opposite result (The Canadian Press , 2012). Yvan Thauvette, president of the Union for Veterans Affairs Employees has countered "People are overwhelmed in a lot of district offices. Service delivery, they want to cut positions and most of those positions are frontline staff people. Do you believe that the service will be the same? No it won't" (CBC News , 2012). The EQUITAS Society, a Veterans Advocacy group currently engaged in a class-action lawsuit against the government in response to the Enhanced New Veterans Charter has identified the services currently available to veterans as "woefully inadequate" (Equitas Society, 2012). Can cutting resources and funding while lowering the financial support to Canadian Forces veterans truly be an enhancement to the services available to them? How can recent changes represent both a reduction and an improvement to these services?

In May 2012, the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs released its latest report, piously titled Improving Services to Improve Quality of Life for Veterans and Their Families. The Report contains seventeen (17) recommendations, most of which contain weak language including "assess the potential benefits… examine… maintaining current practices… review… continue to work," and so on (Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, 41st Parliament, 2012). In the Supplementary Opinion of the Official Opposition, New Democratic Party of Canada members of the committee expressed "very serious concerns with its content" (Ibid, p. 71). Not surprisingly, the NDP, in chorus with the Union for Veterans Affairs Employees, stated,

"New Democrats are very concerned that the cuts to staff (approximately 804 VAC staff), the elimination of nine regional offices across the country, and proposals for private sector/alternate service… will seriously impact the quality of service to veterans and their families. The Official Opposition does not believe that the Department of Veterans Affairs can maintain the same standard of care or programs and services with fewer staff and resources" (Ibid)

In its Minority Report, the Liberal Party of Canada was scathing in its criticism of the process of the committee and the content of its Report. The Party's only sitting member of the Committee, Sean Casey (MP Charlottown) pointed out that many of the recommendations lacked substantial or sufficient action, opting only for "further study" (Ibid, p. 75). Casey states,

"The Liberal Party is disappointed with the calibre and generality of this Report. Such an extensive study provided an opportunity for the Committee to make impactful recommendations to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The recommendations however, as well as the report in general, display that the majority of the Committee is far more interested in congratulating the government, than in providing advice and constructive criticism to improve services to the veterans of Canada" (Ibid)

With such vehement criticism from stakeholders, employee representatives and committee members, how does the government continue to mask deep cuts as improvements?

Research in this policy area is incredibly important. Reducing Veterans benefits is shirking Canada's responsibility to care for those who signed a contract of unlimited liability and have incurred injuries while conducting combat operations in defence of the Crown. At a time when the Government of Canada has demanded so much of its Canadian Forces with the decade-long war in Afghanistan, humanitarian efforts in Haiti, increased military presence in the Arctic, security efforts for the Olympic Games, response to domestic emergencies including flooding in Manitoba, peacekeeping operations in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, it is not fulfilling its responsibilities as outlined in the Department of Veterans Affairs Act.

(I know some of you will not like this but I have to refer to the actual link as its impossible to transfer all here, but we need to archive this information in the CVA Information Repository):

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: City of Ottawa wants to help veterans fill vacant jobs

City of Ottawa wants to help veterans fill vacant jobs

By Drake Fenton, OTTAWA CITIZEN June 12, 2013 6:07 PM

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OTTAWA — The City of Ottawa announced Tuesday it will participate in a federal initiative to help military veterans find employment with the city.

The Hire a Veteran program, organized through Veterans Affairs Canada, is aimed at assisting former military members transition into the civilian workforce.

Each year, 4,000 to 5,000 members of the Canadian Forces leave the military at an average age of 37.

According to Coun. Steve Desroches — who helped bring the program to Ottawa — the initiative isn't about creating jobs for veterans, but instead about giving them a chance to fill vacant jobs.

"They do need to compete and put their best foot forward," Desroches said. "I think our military is representative of our society. It has men and women of all different backgrounds that would be well positioned to work for the city."

Desroches said members of the military have a variety of transferable skills that would make them candidates for a vast number of city jobs.

Brampton, Ont., is the only other municipality currently taking part in the Hire a Veteran program.">
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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New announcement: VAC: Suicide Prevention Framework for Canadian Veterans

VAC: Suicide Prevention Framework for Canadian Veterans,_Jim_MVHR2010.pdf


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

New announcement: Calgary's Poppy Plaza honours Canada's servicemen and women

Calgary's Poppy Plaza honours Canada's servicemen and women

Bridget Brown, CTV Calgary
Published Saturday, June 8, 2013 4:26PM MDT
Last Updated Saturday, June 8, 2013 6:28PM MDT

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ou'll find Calgary's newest gathering place at an address that calls to mind our national day of remembrance: 1111 Memorial Drive N.W. It's now called Poppy Plaza, and it's is designed to commemorate those who have served Canada in our armed forces.

Attending Saturday's official opening were the mothers of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan, Diane Dallaire and Anita Bowes. Both are happy to see the creation of a significant monument in Calgary to the sacrifices of families like theirs.

"They need to be remembered," says Bowes, whose son Chad Horn died in 2008 in Afghanistan's Zhari district of Kandahar.

Diane Dallaire lost her son Kevin in 2006. She says, "they fought for us to have the freedom that we enjoy today, it should not be taken for granted."

That appreciation is visible in the Poppy Place monuments. The 86-square-foot wood plaza is flanked by steel walls that protect it from river ice floes. The steel is untreated, and will eventually oxidize from bright rust to a dark brown.

Councillor Druh Farrell says the design of the area was in part contributed by military members. "We consulted very closely with veterans on the entire project" says Farrell.

The walls of the plaza feature verses and phrases including the Canadian poem In Flanders Fields. The metal words have been cut using high pressure water jets and sand.

Calgary's Mayor Naheed Nenshi and former mayor Dave Bronconnier were among those commemorating the plaza, as well as councilors, veterans, current soldiers and their families.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New announcement: Injured Afghan vet testifies about struggle for benefits, despite warning Read

Injured Afghan vet testifies about struggle for benefits, despite warning

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Published Wednesday, June 5, 2013 10:02PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, June 5, 2013 10:04PM EDT

A fourth-generation solider who served in Afghanistan said he felt compelled to disobey orders and speak out about his experience as an injured veteran, regardless of the consequences he may face.

Vancouver-native Cpl. Glen Kirkland barely survived a Taliban ambush in the Zhari district of Afghanistan five years ago, and said he fears he'll have no pension when he's discharged, or be given adequate assistance for covering his medical bills for a long list of injuries.

The 29-year-old recalled the terrifying attack during a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday.

"My tour was one of bloodshed, constant fighting and on the second last day of my tour, my platoon was ambushed by an estimated 120 Taliban fighters," an emotional Kirkland recalled.

He said the rocket that hit his vehicle missed him by "inches."

Three of the five soldiers in the vehicle died in the attack.

"I had to pull myself while on fire, and through gunfire, to try to extract my dead and dying brothers-in-arms."

The attack, Kirkland said, resulted in the loss of 75 per cent of his hearing, the loss of some sight and a brain injury that left him forever dependant on insulin.

"I suffer from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) so badly that I haven't been able to visit my home in Vancouver for years," he said, with tears in his eyes. "I can't handle the anxiety of being around crowds. Survivor's guilt haunts me every day."

Kirkland recalled the phone call he made to his father while in the hospital in Afghanistan.

"My dad said, 'Don't worry, Canada will take care of you,'" he said. "My dad was wrong."

Kirkland said he had aspirations of becoming a police officer, but his injuries have dashed that dream.

He said he's been denied certain medical aids upon returning to Canada.

"I cried," he said. "Not like a person in pain, but as a person who is totally and utterly defeated."

Kirkland said he's been told to remain quiet about his experience after returning from battle.

"In the past I've been threatened with a dishonourable discharge," Kirkland told CTV News.

However, he said it's important to expose the hurdles some veterans face.

Committee members who heard Kirkland's testimony agreed.

"He has serious, serious injuries," said MP John McKay. "They can boot him tomorrow, and he has no idea whether his medication will be covered, he has no idea whether he'll get any pension, and he's out on his own. It's shameful."

MP Chris Alexander said: "This is clearly a soldier who feels very strongly he has not been well-served by the system…and we want to improve the system. So if we don't hear from those who have experienced challenges, we're not doing our job."

With a report from CTV's Richard Madan

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