Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Sunday, September 29, 2013

New announcement: Wife of former navy man fighting Veterans Affairs for compensation

Wife of former navy man fighting Veterans Affairs for compensation

September 29, 2013 - 6:54pm By DAN ARSENAULT Staff Reporter

Her husband, a former Royal Canadian Navy member, has been dead for more than a year and Dawn Collins lost in her third attempt to secure compensation from Veterans Affairs Canada this summer.

"I think they owe Wayne something," the Beaver Bank native said in a recent interview.

"I have no money to legally fight it."

Wayne Collins, her husband of 47 years, was a stoker in the engine room of several ships during a five-year stint in the navy in the 1960s. He later went into the grocery business, managing a Halifax Superstore and then running the Foodland in Chester.

He got sick in 2001 and the couple believe that his multiple system atrophy, or MSA, arose from his time in the navy, when he used carbon tetrachloride as a degreasing agent.

Because of his illness, the couple had to give up their Foodland business and spent $30,000 on a stem-cell treatment in Germany in 2009. It provided him increased mobility for a year.

He eventually became confined to a wheelchair, unable to speak. In January 2012, pneumonia put him in hospital for months. He didn't have coverage for that $99-a-day stay in hospital, but Dawn said she could not care for him at home alone.

He was able to go home five weeks before his death at age 69 in July 2012.

"He was glad" to be home, she said, adding it meant he could be with his dog and other comforts.

She has paperwork from Veterans Affairs that offers to cover his expenses for that home care, but claims she hasn't received any of that money yet. She hasn't started paying for his hospital stay yet and doesn't want to.

She believes her husband is due compensation through a special pension because of how he became sick. Now that he's gone, she thinks she should have those pension benefits extended to her. She currently receives a pension of $160 a month because of the hearing loss he suffered while in the navy.

Collins said she is a low-income earner, working at a nearby Walmart.

"I'm angry because I think Wayne would still be alive if he didn't serve his country. I feel ripped off. Wayne got this disease and I honestly, in my heart, believe that it was from exposure to the chemicals."

She takes issue with Veterans Affairs' dismissal of her claim. In essence, they argue there is no record to show her husband was exposed to carbon tetrachloride and there is no evidence to prove that is what made him sick.

She said paperwork from the decommissioning of the ships claims that dangerous chemicals were found. Also, a recent court decision in England accepted that someone there had come down with MSA because of exposure to carbon tetrachloride. She also says that her friend's stepfather contacted MSA from carbon tetrachloride use.

And she argues that members of the Veterans Affairs appeals board didn't have medical experience.

Halifax lawyer Ray Wagner has been monitoring Collins' attempts to win compensation. He said Veterans Affairs provided counsel to the family free of charge.

He agrees that proving Wayne Collins was exposed to carbon tetrachloride and proving it led to MSA is very challenging.

In addition, it is difficult to get the federal government to work hard to find their own records, which would confirm carbon tetrachloride usage.

"The records, sometimes, are not available," he said. "Compassion is not the law."

Losing three Veterans Affairs appeals essentially ends that part of the legal battle and Wagner thinks a civil suit is unlikely because of the costs involved and the unlikely chance for success.

He thinks a civil suit would need experts, such as epidemiologists and toxicologists, and could cost up to $150,000.

The best plan would be to find other people who worked alongside Wayne Collins and can support the claim that he was around carbon tetrachloride. Another big help would be to find people who suffered from MSA because exposure to the chemical.

Wagner and Collins have been in touch with one former navy man who supports her claim that carbon tetrachloride was used on ships.

Now 74, Ron Laronde lives near Saint Andrews, N.B.

He was in the navy in the late '50s and worked as a stoker in an engine room. He contacted the Beaver Bank couple after seeing them on a television news show once.

Back in his navy days, he said one of his first duties in the morning was to grab a scrub bucket, pour out a half gallon of solvent, take some scrubbing brushes and go to work. He said he'd get the chemical all over his hands and breathed it in without a second thought.

He's sure it was carbon tetrachloride. "They had a big sign right over the barrels."

His health isn't very good, but he can't be sure if it has anything to do with his time in the navy. He went on to other seafaring work, much of which involved the use of chemicals.

"We had it in aerosol cans. We used to spray it for cleaning motors and things."


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New announcement: Severely disabled vets at risk in old-age. OVO Leaked Report

Severely disabled vets at risk in old-age

By Murray Brewster The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – Some of the country's most severely disabled soldiers will take a major financial hit once they hit old age and risk living out their final years in near-poverty, Canada's veterans ombudsman has concluded.

A report and a painstaking actuarial analysis by Guy Parent's office are due to be released on Tuesday, but copies were obtained by The Canadian Press.

The study compares the old system of compensating veterans under the Pension Act with the New Veterans Charter, marquee legislation championed by the Harper government since it was enacted in 2006.

It shows that roughly 406 severely disabled veterans, mostly from Afghanistan and recent peacekeeping missions, will be left out in the cold because they don't receive certain allowances — or a Canadian Forces pension.

"It is simply not acceptable to let veterans who have sacrificed the most for their country — those who are totally and permanently incapacitated — live their lives with unmet financial needs," said a leaked copy of the report.

Almost a full one-third of the nearly 1,500 soldiers, who have thus far been declared permanently disabled, could also be a risk, depending upon their circumstances. Many of them receive only small allowances and pension entitlements.

The report, which was four years in the making, shows families of veterans who've passed away also take an old age hit because "the cash flow going to survivors ceases when the veteran reaches the age of 65," whereas it continued under the previous pension system.

Compensation for pain-and-suffering awards was also found to be lacking, and Parent noted that specific "improvements are required" only two years after the Conservatives completed the first overhaul of the charter.

Officials in Parent's office and a spokesman for veterans minister Julian Fantino were both not immediately available for comment.

The Harper government, which has had a copy of the report all summer, tried to avoid some of the political fallout last week by preemptively announcing it supported a planned, legislated review of the charter by a House of Commons committee.

Indeed, Parent said he prepared the twin reports to guide the committee and to help separate fact from fiction.

Since its inception, many veterans have criticized the charter as being less generous than the previous system. The notion is at the centre of a lawsuit by Afghan war veterans.

The actuarial report shows ex-soldiers end up with more money in their pockets up front and to the age of retirement than with the checkerboard of pensions it replaced.

But awards for so-called non-economic benefits, such as payments for lost limbs and trauma, pale in comparison to what was given out before when pensions are stretched over a lifetime.

The lump sum payments don't even equal what are handed out by Canadian courts in personal injury cases.

Parent is expected to recommend that the maximum payout be increased to $342,000 from the current $285,000, but the report says the government must engage in a meaningful dialogue to determine what is "fair compensation" for injuries.

The lump sum has been a lightning rod issue because its structure is similar to the provincial workers compensation system, something many in uniform have said is inappropriate for those called upon to risk down their lives for the country.

Many soldiers have said they'd like to see it abolished.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, said a happy medium exists.

His group has called on the federal government to make changes that would see veterans without pensions given some other kind of life-time compensation, either through an extension of the current earnings loss benefit — or some other mechanism.

He has also pushed for a substantial increase in lump sum awards that would make it equal to what ex-soldiers received under the old pension system.

"Nobody can accept a lump sum award that is completely inadequate," he said on Sunday. "All veterans from all eras deserve to have (the country's) sacred obligation to them honoured until end-of-life."

© The Canadian Press, 2013

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New announcement: Canadian Psychiatric Association Brings Together Military and Veteran Psychiatry

Canadian Psychiatric Association Brings Together Military and Veteran Psychiatry

Read more:

Canada NewsWire

OTTAWA, Sept. 29, 2013

OTTAWA, Sept. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Yesterday the Canadian Psychiatric Association held the first meeting of the newly formed CPA Military and Veterans Section, bringing together Canada's foremost experts in the field to network, collaborate, and foster evidence-based care and research. The Section is a unique opportunity for researchers and clinicians working with the military, veterans and their families to share knowledge and best practices in treating a population with distinctive needs that are not well understood by fellow psychiatrists, family physicians, and members of the public.

"Not only can networks such as the CPA Military and Veteran's Section foster new knowledge it can also reduce the lag time between finding out what works and putting that new knowledge into practice to support military members, veterans and families. " says the President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association, Dr. Suzane Renaud.

"PTSD and other operational stress injuries affect everyone," adds past CPA president Dr. Fiona McGregor.. "Over the last 10 years, the Canadian Armed Forces have implemented a strong, evidence-based and multidisciplinary mental health program and are leaders in the area of PTSD and other operational stress injuries. By bringing together military and civilian psychiatrists who treat who treat members of the military, veterans and their families, the section offers a unique forum for mutual knowledge exchange and collaboration to also improve services to military spouses and children."

"On behalf of everyone in the Canadian Armed Forces who benefit from their tireless work, I would like to sincerely thank the Canadian Psychiatric Association for being a champion in the area of military members' and veteran's mental health, and for bringing together the nation's top psychiatrists in the field to help support current and former military members and their families," said General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff. "With the establishment of this new section, the CPA is continuing to demonstrate their commitment to the health of our military members, and to ensuring that lessons learned through research and best practices in the military mental health community are shared in order to benefit other populations such as police, firefighters, industry and the general public."

Founding Co-Chairs, Dr. Don Richardson, a consultant psychiatrist with the Parkwood Operational Stress Injury Clinic who works with veterans, and Colonel Rakesh Jetly, a Canadian Armed Forces psychiatrist and the Senior Mental Health Clinical Advisor to the Surgeon General, agreed that there is a need for a continuum of care that supports reservists and CF members throughout their careers with the military, and as they make the transition to civilian life.

"We are excited to help launch the CPA Military and Veterans Section," said Jetly and Richardson, "We think there's a lot of potential in bringing this kind of expertise together in one group."

The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada's 4,500 psychiatrists and more than 600 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951, the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in the provision of clinical care, education and research.

SOURCE Canadian Psychiatric Association

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Friday, September 27, 2013

New announcement: Canadian soldiers gathering here to mark 20th anniversary of action in Serb/Croa

Canadian soldiers gathering here to mark 20th anniversary of action in Serb/Croat conflict

By Kent Spencer, The Province September 26, 2013

The 20th anniversary is coming up this weekend for Canadian soldiers from Vancouver who took part in a little-known but important incident during the conflict following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Canadian Army Sgt. Doug Setter said Thursday that a lengthy firefight at the village of Medak in Croatia deserves to be remembered because the soldiers put their lives on the line to shield innocent civilians.

"These guys saved lives," he said. "They could have backed off and run away."

He said veterans plan to meet this weekend in North Vancouver to talk about the biggest shooting incident involving Canadian Forces since the Korean War.

After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the country was torn apart by warring factions.

When Canadians arrived as part of a UN peacekeeping force in 1993, Setter said, they discovered atrocities committed by Serbs as well as Croats.

They saw blood-spattered walls, civilians shot in the back of the head and evidence of torture.

"The gates of Hell had opened. Even the chickens were mutilated. These people weren't human," he said.

The Canadians' job was to keep the Serbs and Croats apart, but their role was not respected. They were often shot at and shelled despite flying the blue UN flag.

"Everything was mined. When I got back, I couldn't walk on my grass for three weeks," said Setter.

The 450 Canadian peacekeepers were allowed to return fire only when directly fired upon.

That happened in mid-September in Medak, a small village located in a Serbian enclave within Croatia.

The isolated Serbs were attacked by Croats claiming the territory for themselves.

Setter said one key action involved a squad of eight to 10 reservists from the Seaforth Highlanders in Vancouver.

After the Canadians were fired upon, Setter said, they decided to make a stand on ground outside some half-destroyed buildings.

The Canadians poured a steady stream of heavy-calibre fire into the Croat positions during a 16-hour battle lasting through the night.

No Canadians were injured; the Croats reported 27 killed and wounded.

Although some villagers lost their lives, Setter believes an even bigger tragedy was prevented.

Three Vancouver veterans have publicly acknowledged their part: Privates Tony Spiess, Jarret Chow and Rob Deans.

Setter said vets are still haunted.

"They had to kill people. Some believe they could have saved even more villagers if they had arrived sooner," he said.
© Copyright (c) The Province

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New announcement: Review Demonstrates Government’s Commitment to Veterans and their Families

Review Demonstrates Government's Commitment to Veterans and their Families

September 26, 2013

Ottawa – After reviewing the compelling conclusions of the Veterans Ombudsman and following several weeks of extensive consultation with stakeholders—including Canadian Veterans, serving Canadian Armed Forces personnel, non-profit organizations, international partners and private sector companies—the Honourable Julian Fantino, Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs, announced today that the government will support the comprehensive review of the New Veterans Charter, including all enhancements, with a special focus placed on the most seriously injured, support for families and the delivery of programs by Veterans Affairs Canada. Minister Fantino made the announcement in an address to the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, an organization that has been a key partner in supporting the transition of Canadian Armed Forces personnel to civilian life through the Helmets to Hardhats External link, Opens in a new window program (external link, site available in English only).

"Our Government remains fully committed to providing Veterans with the support they need to lead successful lives beyond their service to Canada in uniform," said Minister Fantino. "To that end, we have already made dramatic improvements—and will continue to strive for enhancements—to ensure that the tools and assistance relied upon by Canada's Veterans remain as effective, efficient and accessible as possible. I look forward to working with my parliamentary colleagues to consider responsible changes in order to reach a common goal of better serving those who served Canada."

The New Veterans Charter, which was passed unanimously and implemented by Parliament in 2006, is specifically designed to provide Veterans with the tools, assistance and support they need to effectively transition into civilian life and continue to contribute their exceptional leadership skills to building a strong and resilient Canada, just as they did in uniform.

Since his appointment in July as Minister of Veterans Affairs, Minister Fantino has reached out to people and partners in an effort to learn more about the issues that matter most to Canada's Veterans. The Minister has been meeting with Veterans at home—in their own communities—and with Veterans stakeholder groups across the country in places including Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Charlottetown, and across the Greater Toronto Area. Minister Fantino just returned from representing Canada at the Multinational Symposium on Veteran Transition, hosted by Canada's True Patriot Love Foundation, where he held dialogues with public and private sector leaders from partner countries including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"I want to thank the Veterans Ombudsman for his thorough, thoughtful and important work on this file. I look forward to working with Parliamentarians and the Ombudsman on this upcoming review," said Minister Fantino.

Minister Fantino will continue to hold meetings with Veterans' groups to seek feedback on optimizing the impact of programs, benefits and services available to Canada's Veterans.

The New Veterans Charter was last reviewed by Parliament in 2011. The fall parliamentary session will begin Wednesday, October 16th, 2013.
Veterans Affairs Canada's support and services offer the right care at the right time to achieve the best results for Veterans and their families. Find out more at

2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to defend the Republic of Korea and uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on Canada's role in the Korean War, visit

– 30 –

Media Enquiries
Janice Summerby
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
Phone: 613-992-7468

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
Phone: 613-996-4649
All Other Enquiries:

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New announcement: Liberal - Veterans Assistance Portal

Liberal - Veterans Assistance Portal

From: "Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P." <>
Date: Sep 25, 2013 7:55 PM
Subject: Veterans Assistance Portal
To: <>

As we move forward I have seen a lot of work which is needed in the Veterans community and much of this work has been ignored and or not looked after.

Many people have warned me against doing this however I have decided to see how I can help vets that face difficulties.

I have made a temporary portal on my website in order to try to assist with case work:
This portal will evolve with time as needs arise. If you need any help please send me info through there and I will try my best to assist.

Do not forget to also send me the authorization which is mandatory in order for me to talk to the department. You can send me info through email at and or my efax at 647 723 0287. (this comes directly to me no buffers)

You can also call me at 416 321 5454 Toronto or Ottawa 613 992 4501.


Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P.
Constituency Office
3850 Finch Ave East Suite 206
Scarborough Ontario
M1T 3T6
Tel: (416) 321 5454
fax: (416) 321 5456


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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New announcement: Canadian Government to award Memorial Cross to family of Canadian veteran killed

Canadian Government to award Memorial Cross to family of Canadian veteran killed by RCMP

September 24, 2013 17:48 ET

PRINCE GEORGE, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(Marketwired - Sept. 24, 2013) - The family of a decorated Canadian Forces veteran who was fatally shot last year during an encounter with an RCMP Emergency Response Team will be awarded a Memorial Cross by the Canadian government in a presentation at Connaught Youth Center in Prince George, this Wednesday at 11:00 a.m.

Warrant Officer Ryan S. Seguin is travelling from Gagetown, New Brunswick to Prince George to present two medals to the Matters family. Seguin and Greg Matters became best friends in the Forces. Matters was also best man at Seguin's wedding, godfather of Seguin's two children and both served together in Bosnia when Matters became injured. The Matters family has never met Seguin and it is sure to be an emotional and memorable event.

Last September, Greg Matters was killed on his property outside of Prince George by members of an RCMP Emergency Response Team. Matters did not have a firearm and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Tracey Matters, sister of the deceased veteran, says that she and her mother will be honored to receive the medals.

Also known as the Silver Cross, the Memorial Cross is usually awarded to the mother and/or wife of a Canadian Forces member who loses their life in active service, including peacekeeping duties.

"Our family has been devastated by the loss of my brother Greg who was a proud Canadian and had spent 15 years serving our country in the Canadian Forces," says Tracey Matters. "My brother was a loving member of our family who was known for his intelligence, generosity, kindness and warmth. He was deployed to Bosnia, came home injured and suffered significantly with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

Greg Matters was undergoing treatment for PTSD with well known expert in this field - Dr. Greg Passey at the Operational Stress Injury Clinic in Vancouver at the time of his death.

Dr. Passey delivered the eulogy at Greg's funeral last year stating that Greg's story had touched his life and that Greg had a clear will to recover with hopes for the future and for a bigger and better life. "He was a man of principles, justice, strength of character and conviction," Dr. Passey said.

"Greg volunteered for the Canadian Forces because he wanted to serve his country and help those who were disadvantaged and unable to defend themselves," Dr. Passey recalled.

A Coroner's Inquest into the death of Greg Matters will be held in Prince George during the week of October 7 to 12, 2013.

Those wishing to help the family pay for legal representation at the inquest may wish to make a PayPal donation at All donations are gratefully accepted.

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New announcement: Alberta researcher heading to Afghanistan to study soldier stress

Alberta researcher heading to Afghanistan to study soldier stress

CALGARY — The Canadian Press

Published Tuesday, Sep. 24 2013, 1:07 PM EDT

Last updated Tuesday, Sep. 24 2013, 1:13 PM EDT

A University of Alberta researcher will deploy with Canadian troops to Afghanistan soon to study how soldiers cope with stress.

Ibolja Cernak is from the Canadian Military and Veterans' Chair in Clinical Rehabilitation.

She will spend a month in Kabul as part of her assessment of how soldiers and veterans cope physically and emotionally before, during and after deployment.

She says the three biggest problems facing soldiers are mental health, concussions and lower back pain.

Cernak hopes to come up with ways to prevent some of these problems, which can sometimes become irreversible.

About 120 soldiers from bases in Edmonton and Shilo, Man., have volunteered to participate in the study.

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Monday, September 23, 2013

New announcement: Canada 'just can’t get around' army cuts, Hillier says

Canada 'just can't get around' army cuts, Hillier says

VIDEO: Staff
Published Monday, September 23, 2013 7:03PM EDT

The Canadian Forces "just can't get around" the need to reduce the number of full-time soldiers in order to maintain a well-trained, capable army while meeting the demand for a slimmed-down budget, retired general Rick Hillier says.

Newly appointed Defence Minister Rob Nicholson is facing the task of slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in military spending as set out in last spring's federal budget. The pending cuts have some experts predicting another "decade of darkness," the term Hillier himself coined in reference to the budget cutbacks of the 1990s under then-prime minister Jean Chretien.

In a wide-ranging interview with CTV's Power Play Monday, Hillier said he doesn't believe the army is headed for another such decade, despite the pressure on Nicholson to find big savings in the budget.

But he said that cutting personnel is, in his view, the only way to reduce defence spending while maintaining a strong, stable force.

"If we do this right, we can still have an agile force, we can still have a superbly trained force and we can still have a force capable in this era of threats," Hillier told host Don Martin.

"But it's going to be smaller, you just can't get around it."

The number of full-time members of the Canadian Forces sits at roughly 65,000, a figure Hillier said should be reduced to about 50,000. He said cuts to personnel make the most sense because payroll accounts for 60 per cent of the defence budget.

Contractual obligations for new planes, vehicles and other material make it difficult to cut the equipment budget, which he pegged at 15 to 17 per cent. Cutting from the remaining sector of the budget, training and operations, would have a devastating impact on the force, he said.

"That means soldiers will sit in garrison and ships will remain tied up at the dock and airplanes won't fly," Hillier said. "And I think you have to balance that."

Hillier said his old "decade of darkness" comment reflected his concern about asking soldiers to do the same job, but with less.

"It's a massive, massive challenge, and the cuts are enormous," Hillier said. "And I've always believed that any government elected by the people of Canada have the sovereign business to decide how much they're going to spend on their armed forces."

In his interview, Hillier said that as the federal government demands cuts to defence spending, it should also do more to support veterans who have come forward to say they have been unable to secure benefits to which they are entitled.

"If I were the prime minister… I would use that throne speech to make a special comment about our veterans to say we are going to turn a page," Hillier said of the Oct. 16 speech that will open the new session of Parliament.

He urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to specifically pledge to scrap a provision in soldiers' benefits that claws back money they earn at outside jobs when they are receiving disability payments for suffering wounds in action.

Hillier was quick to note that despite his advocacy, he will not be following the lead of fellow former soldiers who have entered politics, including retired lieutenant generals Andrew Leslie and Romeo Dallaire.

"I'm not going to, but others can," he said.

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New announcement: Former soldier's service dog refused entry to gym

Former soldier's service dog refused entry to gym

Human rights complaint planned by man suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder

CBC News Posted: Sep 23, 2013 11:16 AM AT Last Updated: Sep 23, 2013 11:46 AM AT

A former soldier, who now lives in Vancouver, is filing a complaint with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission against a Moncton fitness club.

Kevin Berry, 30, served in Afghanistan and says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He travels with his service dog Tommy to help him cope with his PTSD symptoms.

"Tommy wakes me up during nightmares, Tommy walks in and clears my house when we get home," said Berry.

Last week, Berry and Tommy were passing through Moncton as part of a walking tour between Nova Scotia and Ontario to raise awareness about post-traumatic stress disorder.

Berry says they went to Global Gym on Mapleton Road so he could work out, but were denied entry even though Tommy wears a service dog vest and comes with a government-issued ID card.

"They never once asked what Tommy was for," said Berry. "It was, `No,' right away."

Berry says after being denied entrance by a club employee, he contacted the gym's owner by telephone. He says the man laughed at him and said he'd never allow pets at his gym.

"My human rights were violated by the staff at Global Gym and the ownership," said Berry. "It wasn't just the injury, [there was] definitely an insult aspect to it after speaking with the owner on the phone."
'That's unacceptable'

Berry intends to file a complaint of discrimination with the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission.

"I have every intention of pursuing a human rights complaint with the government of New Brunswick," he said. "That's unacceptable.

"You don't discriminate against disabled people," he said. "If they were going to sell me a day pass, it's open to the public and you can't restrict someone from joining because they have a disability that requires certain medical equipment."

'You can't restrict someone from joining because they have a disability that requires certain medical equipment.'- Kevin Berry, former soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder

Berry served with the 3rd battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment in Kabul in 2003-04. He was diagnosed with PTSD in 2010, six years after leaving military service.

``It's an invisible disorder, right?" he said. "You can see it on a [CT scan] or MRI, but there's not too many people that [get CT-scanned] or MRI'd before they go to a war zone to get a baseline to compare it to."

Berry has been working with Tommy since January. The dog has been living with him full time since May.

"He'll stick his head in the shower, goes everywhere with me," said Berry. "He is … an extension of my body. He's everywhere with me.

"Tommy means life," he said. "Tommy is hope, a better life, an acceptance in society, an ability to go out and interact in a way I wouldn't have before," said Berry.

"I feel safer with Tommy, much, much safer," he said. "He's there if I have a panic attack, he'll nuzzle into me. He's in tune with my emotions and knows when something is starting."

The employee who denied Berry said she didn't know that some people with PTSD use service dogs and said allowing dogs at the club would have bothered other members.

The owner of Global Gym did not return calls to CBC News.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013



1. He/she is addicted to war, although he loves you. War is horrible, but there is nothing like a life-and-death fight to make you feel truly alive. The adrenaline rush is tremendous, and can never be replaced. Succeeding in combat defines a warrior, places him in a brotherhood where he is always welcome and understood. The civilian world has its adrenaline junkies as well; just ask any retired firefighter, police officer, or emergency room staff if they miss it.

2. Living for you is harder. It would be easy for him to die for you because he loves you. Living for you, which is what you actually want, is harder for him. It is even harder for him if you are smart and do not need him to rescue you, since rescuing is something he does really well. If you are very competent at many things, he may at times question if you need him at all. He may not see that you stay with him as a conscious choice.

3. "The training kicks in" means something very different to him. It is direct battle doctrine that when ambushed by a superior force, the correct response is "Apply maximum firepower and break contact." A warrior has to be able to respond to threat with minimal time pondering choices. While this is life-saving in combat, it is not helpful in the much slower-paced civilian world. A better rule in the civilian world would be to give a reaction proportionate to the provocation. Small provocation, small response (but this could get you killed on the battlefield). When the training becomes second nature, a warrior might take any adrenaline rush as a cue to "apply maximum firepower." This can become particularly unfortunate if someone starts to cry. Tears are unbearable to him; they create explosive emotions in him that can be difficult for him to control. Unfortunately, that can lead to a warrior responding to strong waves of guilt by applying more "maximum firepower" on friends, family, or unfortunate strangers.

4. He/she is afraid to get attached to anyone because he has learned that the people you love get killed, and he cannot face that pain again. He may make an exception for his children (because they cannot divorce him), but that will be instinctual and he will probably not be able to explain his actions.

5. He knows the military exists for a reason. The sad fact is that a military exists ultimately to kill people and break things. This was true of our beloved "Greatest Generation" warriors of WWII, and it remains true to this day. Technically, your warrior may well be a killer, as are his friends. He may have a hard time seeing that this does not make him a murderer. Although they may look similar at first glance, he is a sheepdog protecting the herd, not a wolf trying to destroy it. The emotional side of killing in combat is complex. He may not know how to feel about what he's seen or done, and he may not expect his feelings to change over time. Warriors can experiences moments of profound guilt, shame, and self-hatred. He may have experienced a momentary elation at "scoring one for the good guys," then been horrified that he celebrated killing a human being. He may view himself as a monster for having those emotions, or for having gotten used to killing because it happened often. I can personally recommend 'On Killing' by Dave Grossman.

6. He's had to cultivate explosive anger in order to survive in combat.

7. He may have been only nineteen when he first had to make a life and death decision for someone else. What kind of skills does a nineteen-year-old have to deal with that kind of responsibility? One of my veterans put it this way: "You want to know what frightening is? It's a nineteen-year-old boy who's had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It's a boy who, despite all the things he's been taught, knows that he likes it. It's a nineteen-year-old who's just lost a friend, and is angry and scared, and determined that some *%#& is gonna pay. To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling."

8. He may believe that he's the only one who feels this way; eventually he may realize that at least other combat vets understand. On some level, he doesn't want you to understand, because that would mean you had shared his most horrible experience, and he wants someone to remain innocent.

9. He doesn't understand that you have a mama bear inside of you, and that probably any of us could kill in defense of someone if we needed to. Imagine your reaction if someone pointed a weapon at your child. Would it change your reaction if a child pointed a weapon at your child?

10. When you don't understand, he needs you to give him the benefit of the doubt. He needs you also to realize that his issues really aren't about you, although you may step in them sometimes. Truly, the last thing he wants is for you to become a casualty of his war.
The Battle Buddy Foundation exists to serve our veterans suffering the 'invisible wounds' of war, Post Traumatic Stress, and Traumatic Brain Injury by providing PTS Service Dogs, Equine Therapy and supporting our nation's heroes when they need it most!!!

*Your donation will directly support the training and placement of a PTSD Service Dog with a veteran who needs it.*
The Battle Buddy Foundation is registered with the Ohio Sec. Of State and our 501(c)3 status is pending.
We need YOU to donate today and help us as we work to serve our injured veterans!!

Donations can be made online here:
Donations can be mailed to:
8859 Cincinnati-Dayton Rd Suite 202
Olde West Chester, Oh 45069

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New announcement: Lt.-Gen. Leslie blasts Conservative government’s treatment of veterans

Lt.-Gen. Leslie blasts Conservative government's treatment of veterans

Andrew Leslie
September 22, 2013 2:05 pm


OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau's latest recruit to the Liberal team says the Conservative government is not doing all it can to help Canadian veterans.

"I'm not convinced they're doing all they should be doing to give those wounded soldiers and those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress the dues and support they need," Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Andrew Leslie said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. "It is a sacred duty of any nation to actually support their veterans.

Leslie was speaking to Canada's involvement in Afghanistan, a mission he said was unequivocally "worth it, because it was the right thing to do."

Veterans Minister Julian Fantino did not immediately return a request for comment.

Last week, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau announced Leslie would be joining the team to co-chair an advisory council on international affairs.

Above: Watch Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Andrew Leslie speak with media last week after joining the Liberals.

The retired general had 35 years in uniform, during which he was deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, commander of Task Force Kabul and commander of the Canadian Army.

During his interview, Leslie reiterated his criticism of the Department of National Defence's management, especially during a time of restrained budgets.

"I'm not arguing against budget reductions, I'm arguing against how they've happened," he said, noting the department has taken to spending on consultants and contractors instead of giving those jobs to the public servants. "So it's mismanagement of a vital institution, which is of increasing concern t o me."

- With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2013

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Minister Fantino Announces New Step on Veterans Mental Health (Service Dog)

Veterans Affairs Canada
News Release
September 18, 2013

Minister Fantino Announces New Step on Veterans Mental Health

Ottawa, ON - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today announced that he has directed his officials to proceed with a research assessment on whether psychiatric service dogs can be effective in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This first step will serve to fully review the existing international research on the topic, identify areas where data may be missing and determine what knowledge would be necessary to inform a Canadian approach to the use of service dogs.

"The health and well-being of Veterans and their families is a matter of paramount importance to our Government," said Minister Fantino. "The use of psychiatric service dogs to treat Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder has generated a great deal of interest and attention. We seek to partner with academics who have expertise in the field to gather scientific evidence to see whether this approach can enhance the care we provide to Veterans and their families."

Earlier today, Minister Fantino met with Captain (retired) Medric Cousineau, a Veteran who has been leading the Long Walk to Sanity project, a PTSD awareness and fundraising walking expedition. Captain Cousineau started walking on August 1 in Nova Scotia to help raise awareness about the potential benefits of service dogs for Veterans who are coping with mental health issues. The walk will conclude tomorrow in Ottawa.

"By forging ahead on his walking expedition and working to spread the word amongst Canadians, Captain Cousineau has demonstrated incredible persistence, grit and strength of character. It was a true pleasure to meet with him today," said Minister Fantino.

Further details on Veterans Affairs Canada's project partner and the scope of work will be available in the coming days.

The first Canadian Military Assistance Dog Summit will take place on Saturday, September 21, at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Veterans Affairs Canada's support and services offer the right care at the right time to get the best result for the new generation of Veterans and their families. Find out more at

– 30 –

Media inquiries:
Simon Forsyth
Media Relations Officer
Veterans Affairs Canada

Joshua Zanin
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: Retired general Andrew Leslie joins Trudeau’s team as adviser

Retired general Andrew Leslie joins Trudeau's team as adviser

By Michael Den Tandt, Postmedia News September 18, 2013 10:08 AM

General Andrew Leslie, the former commander of the Canadian Army and the author of a controversial report on military transformation, has joined Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's team as a senior adviser on foreign and defence issues, and is not ruling out running for a Commons seat himself in 2015.

"I believe in public service, I believe it's a worthy calling," the retired three-star general told Postmedia News. "I'd like to continue serving in whatever way I can."

Leslie retired from the Canadian Forces two years ago after serving 35 years in uniform. In 2011 he produced an influential and widely discussed report that called for "more teeth, less tail," in the Canadian Forces, in other words the reduction of staff jobs at head office in favour of more resources for equipment, training and operations. Since then he has grown progressively more critical of the Harper government's defence policies, in particular the way it has allocated dwindling budget dollars.

In confirming his move into partisan politics, Leslie reiterated those criticisms, saying that since 2006, Department of Defence spending on "the tail" – or overhead – has grown by 40 per cent, versus 10-per-cent growth for front-line functions. "Instead of having sound fiscal management which would reduce tail and invest in teeth, it appears today the teeth is being reduced and the tail is hardly even touched," he said.

DND's spending on consultants and contractors rose from $2.77 billion to $3.25 billion in one year alone, from 2011 to 2012, Leslie said, adding that "the amount of money DND is not allowed to spend" last year reached $2.3-billion. "These issues cannot be solved by DND," he said. "These issues have to be solved by the government of Canada."

The retired general was also critical of the procurement problems and delays that have become endemic for the Canadian military. "If the need is not going to go away and our troops and airmen and sailors need that equipment, the government needs to pay a lot of attention to delivering on equipment, when it's needed and when it's programmed. And quite frankly, that hasn't happened."

Another key area of focus, he said, would be the welfare of Canadian military veterans. "That's worthy of much more attention than it has been given in the past. I know Justin shares that concern."

Leslie stressed that he'd never held membership in a political party, until "a very short while ago." He added: "I have been completely non-partisan for 35 years in uniform. I've been retired now for two years. There have been many other soldiers in the past who've chosen to continue to their service by giving advice to political parties of their choosing."

That tradition extends to Leslie's own family: Both his grandfathers served as Liberal defence ministers. One, Andrew McNaughton, commanded Canadian troops in the Second World War and was a friend of William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Leslie said he hasn't decided yet whether to run for office himself, but isn't ruling it out. "Keep in mind our remit is to co-ordinate and listen and help craft," he said. "But like any good soldier – including generals, retired – I'm keeping my options open."

Asked what motivated him to make this move now, Leslie said he'd been impressed by Trudeau's leadership over the past year and decided he wanted to help him. He found the Liberal leader's "forthright honesty" and "willingness to embrace new ideas" refreshing, he said. "I find him, quite frankly, an inspirational leader, someone I want to follow," Leslie said. "And I've met a lot of leaders in my time."

Asked how he expects Liberal foreign policy will differentiate itself from the Conservative government's in the years ahead, Leslie demurred. "I think it would be inopportune for me to try to steer discussions. The first role of a co-chair is to listen." However, a senior Liberal source said the party's long-held, overarching view – that Canada should promote international peace and security while avoiding "picking sides in foreign conflicts" – is unlikely to change.

Leslie's only official role in the Liberal party, for now, will be to serve as an unpaid co-chair of Trudeau's "council of advisers" on foreign and defence policy, alongside retired astronaut, MP and former Liberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau. Tuesday Trudeau named Toronto Centre Liberal candidate Chrystia Freeland and Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison as co-chairs of a similar "council of economic advisors."
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Canadian Forces Appreciation Program: New industry Partner: Gov Vacation Rewards

Canadian Forces Appreciation Program: New industry Partner: Gov Vacation Rewards

The Canadian Forces Appreciation Program would like to make you aware of a wonderful new industry partner: Gov Vacation Rewards

You are officially invited to join Government Vacation Rewards, the fastest growing government and military discount travel program!
More than 500,000 people have registered for their free subscriptions and are now taking advantage of this program. Your subscription is 100% free and takes less than 30 seconds to complete.

Visit [color=blue][/color]
to log on and learn more.

• Exclusive Email Offers
• Best Price Guarantee
• Reward Points for Every Purchase
• Use Rewards Points for Free Vacations
• 2,500 Reward Points
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Who is Eligible?
• All Canadian Armed Forces Active Duty
• Canadian Armed Forces Retirees
• Armed Forces Veterans & Family
• Federal, State, and Local Government Employees
• Veteran Care Givers

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Canadian Veterans Advocacy: SITREP Sept 14th 2013

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy was created in 2010 specifically to restore the Sacred Obligation through legislative reform.

During the past two plus years , we have endeavored to establish positive relationships with the Government / Conservative Party of Canada, and Veterans Affairs Canada and as a formal stakeholder, have advocated on behalf of disenfranchised veterans ,their families and Memorial Cross recipients . We have also strived to attain the support of ALL opposition parties and, to some larger degree, have successfully engaged the NDP, the Liberal Party of Canada and of course, Elizabeth May, the Green Party of Canada.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy is apolitical, our mission guided by the necessity of motivating support for reform and the recognition that only through legislative action will the Sacred Obligation be accorded to all veterans equally and without prejudice created through the New Veterans Charter. veterans may be aware that there have been changes on the political level with the appointment of Julian Faction to the minister's portfolio and , at the LPC level, Jim Karygiannis to the Veterans Affairs position. I would take this moment to compliment Steven Blaney and Sean Casey for seeing accessible and willing to discuss the fundamental issues. We're pleased to note Peter Stiffer to note long standing NDP Veterans Critic Peter Stoffer will continue to fight for veterans rights.

We have deferred meeting with Minister Fantino until he has been briefed on his new mandate but have been active on other levels, including conversation with many principles. I am including a letter from the new Liberal veterans critic. While our dialogue is preliminary, I am confident Mr Karygiannis will answer the patriots call this fall when patrolling season commences.

Michael L Blais
President/Founder, Canadian Veteran Advocacy

September 2013

Dear Friends,

On August 21, 2013, I was appointed as the Liberal Party of Canada Critic for Veterans Affairs by Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

I am very pleased to receive the appointment and look forward to fulfilling my new critic's responsibilities to the best of my ability. It will be an honour and privilege to advocate on behalf of veterans and their families and to hold the government to account in its treatment our veterans. These men and women have put their lives on the line for us and our way of life. We must ensure that when they come home, they can live their lives with dignity and respect.

Veterans Affairs Canada was established to provide services and benefits that respond to the needs of veterans and their families, in recognition of their services to Canada. Veterans Affairs Canada also works to keep alive, for all Canadians, the memory of our veterans' achievements and sacrifices.

I welcome the opportunity to work with you and your colleagues to help ensure a secure and dignified future for today's veterans and the veterans of tomorrow. To that end, I would like to meet with you in the near future, to discuss issues of concern and ways my colleagues in the Liberal Party of Canada and I, can best be of service.

I am looking forward to working with you as we move ahead and forge a stronger Canada. A Canada that looks after our veterans with the respect they deserve, never forgetting the debt we owe them.

Kindly contact my office by email at, by fax at 613-995-1612 or, by mail at Room 118, Justice Building, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6 (NO POSTAGE REQUIRED).

Should you have any questions with respect to this matter, I may be reached at 613-992-4501 .


Hon. Jim Karygiannis P.C., M.P.
Constituency Office
3850 Finch Ave East Suite 206
Scarborough Ontario
M1T 3T6
Tel: (416) 321 5454
fax: (416) 321 5456

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New announcement: Canadian employers have little interest in hiring veterans, survey shows

Canadian employers have little interest in hiring veterans, survey shows

Tanya Mok | 13/09/13 | Last Updated: 13/09/14 12:01 AM ET
More from Tanya Mok | @_tanyamok

Canadian employers have little interest in hiring military veterans, according to a new survey of employers that one advocate says means "Canadian employers are missing out on a highly qualified talent pool."

The Navigator study, conducted for the Veterans Transition Advisory Council in late August, found that out of 850 employers, most have "little to no understanding of the skillset veterans have."

Though 45% of employers agree that hiring a veteran would reflect well on their business and 51% agree that a veteran's comfort level in high-pressure situations would be an asset to their companies, only 16% would make a special effort to recruit them.

Either employers aren't interested in supporting Canada's veterans, or they aren't aware of the support that's needed

"There are two possible explanations for these results," says Jaime Watt, the executive chairman of Navigator, a public strategy firm. "Either Canadian employers aren't interested in supporting Canada's veterans, or they aren't aware of the support that's needed."

Almost half of employers considered university degrees more important than military service when hiring, and only 13% said their human resources departments knew how to read the resumes of military applicants.

Veteran-specific hiring initiatives were rare, with 73% of employers admitting they don't have one, and only 4% of them planning to create one.

The fact that so few employers think they need to go out of their way to hire veterans leave the vets no choice but "to take jobs that are not in line with their qualifications," says Shaun Francis, who heads the Veterans Transition Advisory Council, a veterans group that advises the government on easing military personnels' transition back into society.

Mr. Francis says that Canadian employers don't understand the transitional skills between military and civilian jobs, while veterans "report frustration and an erosion of self-worth with their civilian careers."

National Post

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Friday, September 13, 2013

New announcement: Mothers of Canadian Soldiers Facebook Group

Mothers of Canadian Soldiers Facebook Group

I am a mother of a Canadian soldier and I am concerned about him and all other soldiers that have been deployed to Afghanistan and other countries around the world. To date 158 Canadian soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan. My heart goes out to those mothers and families for their loss. We must ensure that they feel supported and that their sacrifices were not in vain.

My son is in the combat arms and was deployed to Afghanistan in Sep 08. I fully support his career choice but like all mothers I will always worry about his safety. My son was sent home the end of Nov 08 because he was injured when his armoured vehicle hit an IED. Many of his friends were injured or killed during this tour.

So many soldiers have been injured in Afghanistan and there are many of them suffering because they don't have the support that they need. Please don't forget the sacrifices that they have made so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have in Canada. The government has ignored the plight of injured soldiers and many of them have suffered hardships as a result of their operational tours. The suicide rate has increased dramatically over the last few years and many ex soldiers have been found living homeless on the streets. Canadian soldiers are very proud to serve their country and as Canadians we should be very proud to support them through their difficult times. We are all aware of those brave soldiers that gave their lives for their country but many Canadians are not aware of the number of soldiers that have been injured and are fighting the system to receive proper care, treatment and financial support.

I would like to invite all mothers of Canadian soldiers to share their comments with this group.

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New announcement: Canadian Army Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket

Backgrounder - The Battle of Medak Pocket

BG - 13.042 - September 13, 2013

Created in the aftermath of the First World War following the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Yugoslavia was a multi-ethnic country with several constituent republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro) – each one with a distinct identity. Tensions among the various ethnic and religious groups boiled over in 1991 with declarations of independence by Slovenia and Croatia. As the republics contained substantial minority populations, such as ethnic Serbs in Croatia, the stage was set for years of ethnic and religious conflict.
Canada's Engagement in the Balkans

Beginning in 1991, more than 16,500 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel deployed to the Balkans as part of the United Nations (UN) Protection Force. The UN Protection Force was initially formed to protect civilians and demilitarize several UN protected areas in Croatia, but its mandate and mission extended into the wider region. Virtually every Canadian infantry battalion and armoured regiment rotated through tours of duty in Croatia, Kosovo and Bosnia & Herzegovina. Canada also deployed naval resources in the Adriatic Sea to assist the UN in naval blockades of arms shipments to the region as well as air resources to enforce the UN's no-fly zones and the arms blockade.
Prelude to the Battle of Medak Pocket

In March 1993, the Canadian battle group, structured around the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, departed for its first six-month peacekeeping tour in the former Yugoslavia. Reservists comprised a significant portion of the battle group, which included 875 soldiers. The 2nd Battalion was initially responsible for a UN Protected Area in northwestern Croatia. While operating in this area, the 2nd Battalion developed a reputation of being tough but fair, hindering raiding parties of both the Croatians and the Serbians.

In Sector South of the UN Protection Force's operations area, the heavily Serbian population had come under increasing Croatian military pressure. The Erdut Agreement, which created a ceasefire in Sector South, was very tenuous at best. In September 1993, the UN Protection Force commander French General Jean Cot, recognizing the professionalism of the Canadians and seeing the need to provide support to the ceasefire in Sector South, ordered the 2nd Battalion to deploy to the area in order to bring stability. Within hours of arriving in Sector South, the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel James Calvin, and his force met a major Croatian offensive in the area known as the "Medak Pocket."
The Battle of Medak Pocket

As the soldiers of the Canadian battle group began moving through the Serbian lines to take up their positions at the front, they were pounded with mortar and artillery rounds as they advanced. As a result, they were forced to halt and build defensive positions while waiting for a ceasefire to be reached. International pressure and efforts by the UN and Lieutenant-Colonel Calvin produced a ceasefire agreement on September 13, in which the Croatians agreed to return to the positions they held on September 8.

On September 15, the 2nd Battalion, reinforced by two mechanized infantry companies from the French army, began to move forward to implement the ceasefire agreement. However, the Croatian forces did not withdraw. As the Canadians and French moved forward, they were attacked by Croatian forces and forced to return fire to defend themselves. The fighting raged on for 15 hours, into the early morning of September 16. Under conditions of extreme peril and hazard, facing enemy artillery, small arms and heavy machine-gun fire as well as anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, the Canadian and French soldiers dug in, held their ground, and drove the Croatian forces back. During the course of this battle four Canadian soldiers were wounded. The Croatian general requested a meeting with Lieutenant-Colonel Calvin for the evening of September 15, at which it was agreed that the Croatians would move at noon the following day.

On the morning of September 16, smoke could be seen rising from several villages behind Croatian lines while explosions and bursts of automatic rifle fire could be heard as the Canadians and French again moved forward. The soldiers encountered a Croatian roadblock protected by a hastily laid minefield, a T-72 tank and anti-tank missiles. It became clear the Croatians were resisting the Canadian advance.

With an intense standoff ensuing, Lieutenant-Colonel Calvin eventually called forward a group of international reporters who had arrived at the scene, and pointed out to them that the Croatian army commander was not abiding by the terms of the ceasefire agreement and that they were hiding evidence of violence affecting civilians. The appearance of the reporters had the desired effect and Croatian forces backed down, allowing the battalion to enter the zone. The exemplary actions of the 2nd Battalion caused the Croatian Army to cease their ongoing tactics of violence affecting civilians, without question saving many civilian lives.

In the days that followed, the members of the 2nd Battalion gathered evidence of violence affecting civilians. Some of this evidence was used in the international criminal tribunals investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity during the wars in the former Yugoslavia.
Aftermath of a Tragic Victory

For their courage and professional execution of duty at the Battle of Medak Pocket, the 2nd Battalion was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation in 2002 by former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson. The Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation may be awarded to any unit or sub-unit of the CAF, or to any similar organization of a foreign armed force working with or in conjunction with the CAF, that has performed an extraordinary deed or activity of a rare high standard in extremely hazardous circumstances.

The Battle of Medak Pocket has been described as the most important military operation the UN conducted in the former Yugoslavia. The Canadian battle group had been deployed to the Balkans on a peacekeeping mission. However, a combination of political and military pressure backed by use of force made it possible to put a stop to the escalation of violence in the Medak Pocket. The battle demonstrated that the UN was prepared to use force in peacekeeping operations, as allowed in the Charter of United Nations, Chapter VII. In turn, the actions of Regular and Reserve soldiers resulted in an increased amount of respect for Canadians and the UN's Protection Force from both the Croatians and Serbians.

Since the end of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia has made a concerted effort to join the democratic family of nations. Croatia cooperates with the UN War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), has established a functioning democracy with stable institutions guaranteeing the rule of law and a respect for fundamental rights, and has implemented far-reaching economic reforms. With its sights firmly set on Euro-Atlantic integration, Croatia joined NATO at the Alliance's Summit in April 2009, and became a member of the European Union on July 1, 2013.

Canada is proud to be able to count Croatia as a close friend and Ally, and was among the first of NATO's members to welcome Croatia into the Alliance. Croatia embraced a wide-range of military reforms in order to join the Alliance, and has since made valuable contributions to NATO's international operations, including alongside Canadians in Afghanistan. Croatia has also participated in the Department of National Defence's Military Training and Cooperation Programme since 2005, which comprises language, staff officer and peace support operations training for members of the Croatian Armed Forces.


For more information on the Medak Pocket, please see the following Canadian Military Journal article about the Application of the Medak Agreement in September 1993.


September 13, 2013
Canadian Army Commemorates the 20th Anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket

SHILO, MANITOBA--(Marketwired - Sept. 13, 2013) - Serving and retired members of the Canadian Army gathered today at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shilo for a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Medak Pocket.

The Battle of Medak Pocket, which occurred in September 1993, is a significant moment in Canadian military history. Canadian and French peacekeepers defended their position against Croatian forces, making it possible to stop the escalation of violence in the region. The Canadian battle group that deployed to Croatia was structured around the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, currently based at CFB Shilo, and included a large number of reservists from other units.

"Canada is proud to recognize the devotion of the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry and reservists from other units for their role in the Battle of Medak Pocket," said the Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence. "It is appropriate that we take the time to recognize these soldiers and the contribution they made to bringing stability to the Balkans. It is also important to acknowledge Croatia's hard work since that era to become a valued and trusted member of the Euro-Atlantic community, a NATO ally, and most recently a member of the European Union."

Mr Ted Opitz, Member of Parliament for Etobicoke Centre, attended the ceremony in Shilo to represent the Government of Canada.
"It is an honour to be able to personally show my gratitude for the efforts of our men and women in uniform who serve our country and the cause of peace," said Mr. Opitz. "I am also particularly impressed by the contributions of the reservists, who comprised a significant part of the battle group during the Battle of Medak Pocket. They were citizens with everyday civilian jobs who chose to volunteer to go overseas and serve our country."

The Battle of Medak Pocket marked the first time that a Canadian battalion had mounted an operation of that size against armed resistance since the Korean War. For its courage and professional execution of its duty during the battle, the 2nd Battalion was awarded the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation in 2002 by then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

"The Canadian peacekeepers present at Medak Pocket did not expect to participate in an outright battle, but their courage and training for a wide range of scenarios enabled them to adapt to challenging circumstances," said Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army. "Their unwavering commitment and professionalism helped them fulfill their mission."

In addition to the ceremony in Shilo, activities to commemorate the Battle of Medak Pocket also include an exhibit of the Bosnia Memorial Stones at the Military Museums of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta.

For further information, please see the following Backgrounder on The Battle of Medak Pocket.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Citizens' Group Applauds Court Decision, Calls for Settlement of ‘Obscene’ Case

Citizens' Group Applauds Court Decision, Calls for Settlement of 'Obscene' Case


Le français suit
Citizens' Group Applauds Court Decision, Calls for Settlement of 'Obscene' Case

St. John's, NL - On Friday, a BC Supreme Court justice ruled that a group of veterans can sue the federal government. The Attorney General of Canada had argued the suit should be tossed out because it had no chance of success, and that government has no duty to care for those injured or killed in service. Justice Gordon Weatherill denied the government's arguments, ruling, in part, "that the Crown solemnly undertook to act in the best interests of injured veterans upon their return from battle... That makes sense when one considers that it is the Canadian Forces members and veterans who fought and in many cases died and continue to fight and die for the freedom of all Canadians and the fundamental principles that all Canadian citizens treasure."[p67] The court approved the lawsuit by 6 Afghanistan veterans, who say the lump-sum payments they received under the 2006 New Veterans Charter are inadequate.
Our Duty agrees: "One day, you are patrolling in Afghanistan, secure that, if you are injured, you will be looked after for the rest of your life," said Jeff Rose-Martland, President of the citizens' group, "The next, you are patrolling that area, knowing the best compensation you would get wouldn't buy a house in most markets. You weren't even asked if you wanted your benefits changed, weren't given an option to quit the Forces when they were, you just got stuck with what the government handed you and sent off to dodge bullets."

Our Duty notes that the New Veterans Charter was introduced as the fight in Afghanistan was heating up. "The lump-sum award came into effect on 1 April 2006, just as the spring offensive was starting. Six weeks later, the Harper Government announced it was sending more Canadian troops and extending the mission for at least two more years - now seven and counting," said advocate Rose-Martland, "One month, the government is saving money by cutting benefits to injured veterans; the next month it sets out to create more injured veterans." Rose-Martland also notes that, of the 158 Canadian soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, 147 died after the lump-sum payment plan was implemented.

Our Duty backs the veterans' lawsuit: "We support the Equitas Society, who is fundraising to offset the legal expenses. As citizens, we are tired of watching our government fighting our veterans in court. These people served us, served Canada, and they should be looked after," said the President, "The idea of wounded veterans, and families of those killed, having to go to court to get fair treatment is obscene."

In light of the Friday decision, Our Duty is calling on the government to concede defeat.

"Our government stood in court and declared that Canada doesn't owe veterans for their sacrifices," said Jeff Rose-Martland, "That's not only grotesque, it's also patently false. Canadians know what we owe our troops; we know that we have a duty to provide for those who have sacrificed for us. All citizens know this.

"But the government argued otherwise, and used us to defend their position, saying that it can't put the needs of veterans before taxpayers. Why not? We ask the Forces and RCMP to put Canada before themselves. We put them between us and harm. When they are harmed, it is only just that we put their needs before our own. Fortunately, Justice Weatherill agrees with the rest of Canada and dismissed government's argument."

Rose-Martland added: "The federal government has now seen that they will lose this case, so why drag it out for another decade? The lump-sum payment is unfair, everyone knows veterans deserve better, and Canadians would be better served if government would give in now. The federal government should work towards fixing this mess, instead of wasting taxpayers' money on a legal battle. Canadians honour our veterans; we don't fight them in court."


Our Duty has launched an online campaign confirming the social contract with the Forces and RCMP, confirming the obligation to care for those who are injured or killed in service to Canada, and demanding government cease court battles with veterans.



The decision rendered by the BC Supreme Court, along with transcripts and other documents, can be found at:

Le Groupe de Citoyens se réjouit de la décision de la Cour, les appels pour le règlement de l'affaire «obscène»

Saint-Jean, T.-N.-L. - Le vendredi, un juge de la Cour suprême de la C.-B. a jugé qu'un groupe d'anciens combattants peut poursuivre le gouvernement fédéral. Le Procureur Général du Canada avait fait valoir le costume doit être jeté dehors parce qu'il n'avait aucune chance de succès, et que le gouvernement n'a pas l'obligation de prendre soin de ceux blessés ou tués en service. Justice Gordon Weatherill a refusé arguments, la décision du gouvernement, en partie, «que la Couronne solennellement engagé à agir dans le meilleur intérêt des anciens combattants blessés à leur retour de la bataille ... C'est logique si l'on considère que ce sont les membres des Forces canadiennes et les anciens combattants qui ont combattu et dans de nombreux cas sont morts et continuent à se battre et à mourir pour la liberté de tous les Canadiens et les principes fondamentaux que tout trésor Canadien des citoyens. » [P67] La cour approuvé le procès de 6 vétérans d'Afghanistan, qui disent que les paiements forfaitaires reçus en vertu de la Nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants 2006 sont insuffisantes.

Notre Devoir est d'accord: «Un jour, vous êtes patrouiller en Afghanistan, sûr que, si vous êtes blessé, vous serez pris en charge pour le reste de votre vie», a déclaré Jeff Rose-Martland, président du groupe de citoyens, «La prochaine , vous êtes patrouiller cette zone, connaissant la meilleure compensation que vous obtiendriez serait pas acheter une maison dans la plupart des marchés. Vous étiez même pas demandé si vous vouliez changer vos prestations, n'ont pas eu la possibilité de quitter les Forces quand ils étaient, il vous suffit coincé avec ce que le gouvernement vous a remis et envoyé à esquiver les balles. »

Notre Devoir notes que la nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants a été présenté comme le combat en Afghanistan se réchauffait. «Le prix forfaitaire est entré en vigueur le 1er Avril 2006, un peu comme l'offensive de printemps commençait. Six semaines plus tard, le gouvernement Harper a annoncé qu'il envoyait des troupes canadiennes et plus l'extension de la mission pendant au moins deux ans de plus - maintenant sept ans et compter» a déclaré défenseur Rose-Martland « un mois, le gouvernement économise de l'argent en réduisant les avantages sociaux à anciens combattants blessés;. le mois prochain, il vise à créer des anciens combattants blessés plus» Rose-Martland note également que, sur les 158 soldats canadiens qui ont été tués en Afghanistan, 147 morts après le plan de paiement forfaitaire a été mis en place.

Notre Devoir soutient la poursuite des anciens combattants: «Nous soutenons la Société d'Equitas, qui recueille des fonds pour compenser les frais de justice. En tant que citoyens, nous sommes fatigués de voir notre gouvernement lutte de nos anciens combattants en cour. Ces personnes nous ont servi, servi le Canada, et ils devraient être pris en charge » a déclaré le Président « L'idée de vétérans blessés et les familles des personnes tuées, ayant pour aller au tribunal pour obtenir un traitement équitable est obscène » À la lumière de la décision de vendredi est de notre devoir appelle le gouvernement à reconnaître sa défaite. «Notre gouvernement se tenait dans la cour et a déclaré que le Canada ne devait pas les anciens combattants pour leurs sacrifices» a déclaré Jeff Rose-Martland «Ce n'est pas seulement grotesque, c'est aussi manifestement fausse. Les Canadiens savent que nous devons à nos troupes, nous savons que nous avons le devoir de fournir à ceux qui se sont sacrifiés pour nous. Tous les citoyens le savent »

«Mais le gouvernement a fait valoir autrement, et utilisé nous pour défendre leur position, en disant qu'il ne peut pas mettre les besoins des anciens combattants avant contribuables. Pourquoi pas? Nous demandons aux Forces Canadiennes et de la GRC de mettre Canada avant eux-mêmes. Nous les mettons entre nous et le mal. Quand ils sont lésés, il est juste que nous mettons à leurs besoins avant les nôtres. Heureusement, le juge Weatherill est d'accord avec le reste du Canada et a rejeté l'argument du gouvernement »

Rose-Martland a ajouté: «Le gouvernement fédéral a maintenant vu qu'ils perdront ce cas, pourquoi faites-le glisser pour une autre décennie? Le paiement forfaitaire est injuste, tout le monde sait anciens combattants méritent mieux, et les Canadiens seraient mieux servis si le gouvernement donnerait maintenant. Le gouvernement fédéral devrait travailler à la fixation de ce gâchis, au lieu de gaspiller l'argent des contribuables sur une bataille juridique. Canadiens honorer nos anciens combattants, nous ne nous battons pas en cour »


Notre devoir a lancé une campagne en ligne confirmant le contrat social avec les Forces et de la GRC, ce qui confirme l'obligation de prendre soin de ceux qui sont blessés ou tués en service au Canada, et exigeant gouvernement cesse batailles judiciaires avec les anciens combattants.



La décision rendue par la Cour suprême de la C.-B., ainsi que les transcriptions et autres documents, peuvent être consultés à l'adresse:

Jeff Rose-Martland (anglais seulement)
President, Our Duty Inc

Our Duty is a citizens' organization dedicated to ensuring Canada's veterans receive proper pension and benefits. For more info, contact

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Highway of Heroes mural vandalized

Highway of Heroes mural vandalized

By: Paul Clarke Staff Reporter, Published on Sun Sep 08 2013

Vandals have destroyed a downtown mural commemorating fallen Canadian soldiers.

The Highway of Heroes mural painted in a back alley behind the coroner's office near Yonge and College streets marks the final stop for hearses carrying the remains of fallen soldiers from Canadian Forces Base Trenton. More than 150 families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan have made that journey, ending at the coroner's office.

The mural was completed in 2010 as part of the Graffiti Transformation Project, an annual community program that hires marginalized youth who face barriers to employment.

Toronto Police constable and legal graffiti art coordinator, Scott Mills, was the driving force behind the mural.

It is believed the vandalism took place sometime Friday night.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Ex-soldier denied permission to walk for mentally injured vets is on the road again

Ex-soldier denied permission to walk for mentally injured vets is on the road again


Kate MacEachern, the retired army corporal who hit headlines in July after CFB Gagetown brass blocked her from launching a second charity walk for mentally injured soldiers, has started her second charity walk for mentally injured soldiers, a 1,864-kilometre fundraising trek to Ottawa. File photo by Brian Atkinson, Ottawa Citizen.
Photograph by: Brian Atkinson , Brian Atkinson

OTTAWA — Kate MacEachern, the army corporal who hit headlines in July after CFB Gagetown brass blocked her from launching a second charity walk for mentally-injured soldiers, has started her 1,864-kilometre fundraising trek to Ottawa.

"It's going great," she told the Citizen while on her way to New Glasgow, N.S.

"It started quiet but people are stopping and donating and giving their support."

This year she is raising money for the online-help organization Military Minds.

The former tank driver MacEachern, who raised $20,000 for the military charity Soldier On during a much-shorter walk last summer, quit the military in August shortly after base bosses rejected her request to repeat the effort.

Instead of the enthusiastic support she was expecting from Gagetown brass this year, the 34-year-old single mother got the ultimatum: 'Do the walk if you like but not as a serving soldier.'

MacEachern, a member of the Armour School at Gagetown, had been confident of getting her boss's backing because in 2012, then-Defence minister Peter MacKay walked part of the way with her and afterwards was effusive in praise of her efforts.

"Your family, friends, your neighbours here, all Nova Scotians, all Canadians are so proud of your accomplishment, your compassion — your passion for your friends, your colleagues, your comrades — to undertake this enormous journey on their behalf is such a living tribute to those who wore the uniform (and) who continue to wear the uniform." said MacKay. "As the minister of National Defence and your local MP, I am so thankful for what you have done for your community and your country. Thank you, Kate."

MacKay also told her she "epitomized leadership" and personally gave her two weeks off.

Despite this ringing endorsement from the defence minister, her chain of command remained unimpressed and said they couldn't afford to give her the time and had insurance and cost concerns over the walk.

But a shocked MacEachern, who has three sponsors this year, insists there would have been no cost to her base and on her official permission form made no mention of money or any other form of assistance from the military.

With her army career now in the rear-view mirror, MacEachern says she is getting promises of support from paramedics, firefighters and police as she wends her way toward a planned final stop at the War Museum in Ottawa on Oct. 18.

"This is how I hoped it would go," she said, "because now I'm no longer in the military I wanted to involve more people — anyone who has any contact with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).

"I was military, and Military Minds is obviously about the military, but PTSD affects many others," she added. "It doesn't stand for Post Traumatic Afghanistan Disorder."

MacEachern is also getting moral support for all stages of her walk from Canadian Army Veteran Motor Cycle Units — a national network of bikers.

Military Minds members are driving her support RV that was donated for the walk by a Gananoque RV dealer.

By the end of her walk last year, MacEachern said her army pack was crammed with mementoes gathered from passersby.

"Along the way, people I met were beyond heartfelt," she said. "They would give me a hat or a pin or a name tag or something from their son or daughter to carry with me. I never knew what to do with them but this year what I have done is fix Velcro on the front of my bag and as I get them I am putting them right on the outside of my ruck.

"To me that's a huge part of this," she added, "because it becomes a walking memorial to their struggle."

Although she's heard nothing official from her base, MacEachern says former colleagues have sent messages of support and just 40 kilometres into her walk, a guy stopped and handed her an envelope with the word 'CHIMO' on the outside — the nickname and cheer for Canadian Military Engineers.

Inside was a cheque for $1,000.

More information at MacEachern's Facebook page:

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Friday, September 6, 2013

EQUITAS - Class Action - The Very Best of News for Disabled Veterans

EQUITAS - Class Action - The Very Best of News for Disabled Veterans

The Justice upheld that most of the key claims of the case, contained in the pleadings set out before the Court on behalf of the six representative plaintiffs, can be pursued further in Court. Consequently, the Class Action lawsuit can now proceed.
Of special note is that this judicial ruling also appears to be very supportive of Canada's veterans having rights in relation to the 'Honour of the Crown' as well as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms."
WE HAVE A CASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

New announcement: CF STUDY CAF mbrs who have service illness/injury Understanding the Resilience

The Study Understanding the Resilience of Children of a Parent Coping with a Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Service-Related Illness or Injury
The purpose of this research is to gain a better understanding of children's strategies and coping mechanisms during times of stress. Specifically, we want to hear about children's experiences when they have a parent coping with a CAF service-related illness or injury.

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You can view the full announcement by following this link:

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.