Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Monday, February 24, 2014

New announcement: New from Sean Bruyea - How veterans shoot themselves in the foot while GoC ..

The timing of this article and the implications are very interesting as it is these very groups, the Royal Canadian Legion and the many veterans organizations they have united under the Veterans Consultation Group who will soon stand before parliamentary committee and champion not the standards established in blood, sacrifice and valour by generations of valiant Canadians, but a Bump to the Chump to 350 k, a standard set by the Ontario workplace standards, not the Sacred Obligation.

Your membership to these organizations perpetuates this injustice because their words negate yours.

Think about it. Then if you are a member of one of these organizations, contact your president, ask them why they are standing against the wounded quest for justice, quest for the same standards that I and thousands of pre NVC veterans have been awarded a as consequence of our lifetime of PAIN and SUFFERING on behalf of the nation.

Mike - Prez - CVA

How veterans shoot themselves in the foot while government hits them over the head

There is little doubt as to the good intentions of most veterans' organizations in providing quotes to government. However, government has clearly been quite astute at using veterans' good intentions to further a PR war that does little but says much about caring for veterans.

The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Media relations teams in the minister's and Prime Minister's Office as well as Veterans Affairs Canada have spun facts to portray government as doing more than it actually is. Take, for example, the $2-billion waved about in 2011 as government's claimed commitment to 'enhance' the New Veterans Charter, the controversial veterans' legislation. Closer examination revealed that $2-billion was actually $40-million annually over 50 years.

Published: Monday, 02/24/2014 12:00 am EST

The current government has come under intense criticism for failing veterans while doggedly pursuing a relentless public relations campaign claiming the opposite. Sadly, veterans' organizations have been unwittingly co-opted into this PR war, effectively supporting government propaganda.

Media relations teams in the minister's and Prime Minister's Office as well as Veterans Affairs Canada have spun facts to portray government as doing more than it actually is. Take, for example, the $2-billion waved about in 2011 as government's claimed commitment to "enhance" the New Veterans Charter, the controversial veterans' legislation. Closer examination revealed that $2-billion was actually $40-million annually over 50 years.

Such audacious 'truthiness' has contributed to the increasing skepticism amongst the public, the media, and, hopefully, veterans about claims by elected and unelected officials about veterans' benefits. Consequently, former Veterans Affairs minister Steven Blaney changed tactics in early 2012. Until that point, media releases from VAC contained scripted quotes attributed mainly to ministers. Veterans were rarely quoted.

The one exception occurred in the fall of 2010. Widespread privacy breaches targeting me became public just after devastating claims by the first veterans ombudsman of pervasive bureaucratic failures and just before the first nationwide public protests by veterans in more than 90 years. Government was losing the PR war badly. Ottawa quickly tabled three changes to the NVC, and included the following in a media release:

"Dominion President, Mrs. Patricia Varga, of The Royal Canadian Legion stated, 'This bill, as a first step, makes great strides in improving the New Veterans Charter and encompasses many of the recommendations made by the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.' "

And: " 'With this bill, we applaud the government for keeping its promise that the New Veterans Charter is truly a living document,' said Ray Kokkonen, president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. 'Naturally, we are pleased to have had a role in this matter and that our advice and recommendations have been heard.""

Two years previously, both organizations signed off on the Advisory Group report, which stressed urgent changes to the New Veterans Charter. The report contained 86 specific recommended changes in 17 areas. The standing committee stressed the urgency to act on the NVC report as well as 17 additional recommendations.

A June 2013 report issued by the veterans ombudsman concluded that the federal government failed to implement many of the Advisory Group's recommendations (my assessment is that 100 recommendations remained unaddressed from these two bodies alone.) In this context, three changes were hardly "great strides." So few changes six years after the original legislation was passed hardly justifies the claim that "the New Veterans Charter is a truly living document" especially when the government had committed to reviews every two to three months and comprehensive reviews every two years.

Media, veterans, and most Canadians upon reading such quotes would be forgiven for believing that government had actually addressed complaints about the NVC. In effect, these two organizations helped the government in public relations victory, allowing the "living charter" to enter yet another coma of government inaction.

It would be almost 18 months before government would solicit another veteran organization's quote. In 2012, the government was in the midst of an intense PR campaign. Called "Cutting Red Tape for Veterans," the campaign claimed that cutting services in many areas was somehow an improvement.

On April 3, Veterans Affairs Canada included the following in a media release: " 'The changes to the VIP [Veterans Independence Program] program [sic] announced by Minister Blaney will make life easier for Veterans,' said Gordon Jenkins, president of the NATO Veterans Organization of Canada. 'Instead of having to submit individual receipts and burn up bureaucratic processing time, veterans will now receive a grant to cover the cost. This benefits everyone.' "

This was a new initiative and therefore impossible for anyone to know whether this change would benefit anyone, let alone "everyone." The initiative has since caused problems for a growing number of veterans. Meanwhile, the public could be forgiven in forgetting the Conservatives have yet to fulfill their promise to make VIP available to all widows of war veterans.

Veterans Affairs Canada expanded the venues where veterans are quoted. The fall 2012 issue of the VAC newsletter to veterans, known as Salute, prepared the way for closing Veterans Affairs offices by sending veterans to Service Canada locations. Salute is often criticized for its PR and bureaucratic fluff. However, quoting veterans on any change usually lends more credibility: " 'Veterans now have much more access to services and information no matter where they are located,' said Ron Griffis, national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping. 'The ability to now receive assistance completing and submitting VAC disability benefit applications through Service Canada centres will benefit many.' "

More than a year later, most, if not all, Service Canada locations cannot provide any information to veterans about benefits. Service Canada personnel will not have the training to provide veterans with the "ability to now receive assistance completing and submitting VAC disability benefit applications." Such applications are notoriously complex. Furthermore, most of the Service Canada locations are actually "outreach sites" which have irregular hours such that many are open only once a month.

In spite of widespread criticism of the recent federal budget's failure to address veterans' issues, the federal government looked to statement by the Royal Canadian Legion to give the impression most veterans supported the budget initiatives.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino stood in the House the day after the budget under heavy opposition criticism: "In economic action plan 2014, we are expanding the funeral and burial benefits to ensure that modern day veterans of modest means can have a dignified burial. Do not only take my word for it. The Royal Canadian Legion just yesterday said that it was '...very pleased that the issue of a dignified funeral for the most vulnerable, low income Veterans has finally been resolved.... [T]he government lived up to their commitment.' "

There has been no change in the qualifying criteria: deceased married veterans cannot have more than $12,015 in their joint estate and single veterans must be absolutely destitute or government will deduct funeral reimbursement from any additional assets. The issue is far from "finally [being] resolved."

There is little doubt as to the good intentions of most veterans' organizations in providing quotes to government. However, government has clearly been quite astute at using veterans' good intentions to further a PR war that does little but says much about caring for veterans. These quotes benefit government first, not veterans.

By contributing to such propaganda, veterans are influencing change that affects veterans who do not belong to their organizations. Quoted veterans become 'pseudo-proxies' convincing a public with a limited attention span that all veterans are happy with the change. However, 90 per cent of Canada's almost 700,000 serving and retired CAF members do not belong to any veteran organization.

However, veterans can beat the government at their own PR war. First, veterans' organizations can refuse to provide media quotes. Second, organizations, just like government, can stick to media lines such as: "until government enacts recommendations from the veterans ombudsman and veterans' consultation group to improve the NVC, veterans will not provide positive quotes about government."

Otherwise, by supporting government announcements, especially before the details of any initiative are known, veteran organizations only play into the hands of government's long history of doing far too little, far too slowly, to improve the lives of veterans and their families.

Sean Bruyea is vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans' issues.
The Hill Times

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New announcement: Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

Party members have spent the last several months developing policy resolutions touching important priorities like investments in infrastructure, telecommuting solutions, youth employment, post-secondary education, and restoring trust in democracy.

Here are the policy resolutions submitted to the Montreal 2014 – Liberal Biennial Convention relating to veterans and the military.

89. Veterans' Affairs

WHEREAS veterans fought for us to preserve our democracy and give us the freedoms that are cherished by all Canadians;

WHEREAS the after-effects of conflicts are serious and our older veterans as well as those who have represented Canada in recent missions both on and off this continent, suffer from physical and mental health challenges such as amputation and post-traumatic stress disorder;

WHEREAS and our veterans deserve one-on-one counselors with tailored service considering the veterans' service to Canada;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT a Liberal government will maintain service to veterans at Veterans Affairs Offices throughout Canada

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a Liberal government will try to re-establish facilities conducive to the needs of all veterans.
Liberal Party of Canada (Nova Scotia)

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

56. Disabled Veterans Strategy

WHEREAS the New Veterans Charter (2006) provides an earnings loss benefit, financial award and allowances to veterans who have been assessed with a service-related disability;

WHEREAS the New Veterans Charter contains a capped amount and provides a one-time lump-sum disability award which can be a reduction from the monthly tax-free pension for life and survivor benefit originally provided through the Canada Pension Act;

WHEREAS the "Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act", provides only Regular Force Veterans a guaranteed minimum of $40,000/year in pre-tax income only when they are in a Rehabilitation Program or until age 65 or $58,000 only when severely disabled;

WHEREAS every disabled Canadian Forces veteran deserves to be treated on a basis equal to private sector and other public sector workers and who have a diagnosed medical condition or disability related to their service;

WHEREAS the New Veterans Charter provides awards that primarily consist of a one-time payment with benefits that are significantly less than those benefits provided by the previous Veteran Affairs Canada Pension Act or other compensation programs throughout Canada;

WHEREAS the difference in benefits is contrary to the spirit of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is disrespectful of the services provided by Canadian Forces personnel;

BE IT RESOLVED that Disabled Canadian Forces disability benefits be provided on a basis at least equitable to those provided under the previous Pension Act and consistent with disability benefits available to other federal and provincial government employees and/or benefits under federal and provincial workers compensation plans.

Liberal Party of Canada (British Columbia)

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

117. Fair & Compassionate Treatment of Injured Canadian Forces Personnel

WHEREAS the people of Canada are proud of and grateful of the men and women who serve in the Canadian Forces;

WHEREAS some injured Canadian Forces personnel are being forced out of the service prior to obtaining the ten years of duty required to be eligible for their pensions;

WHEREAS men & women in the Canadian Forces may suffer from both physical and psychological injuries;

WHEREAS these injured Canadian Forces personnel may still serve their country;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada condemn this practice by the Conservative Government;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a new Liberal Government immediately cease this practice and ensure the fair and compassionate treatment of all current and former Canadian Forces personnel.

Liberal Party of Canada (New Brunswick)

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

33. A Social Covenant with Canadian Veterans

WHEREAS, successive generations of Canadians have served their country honourably as members of the Canadian Armed Forces;

WHEREAS, service in the Canadian Armed Forces requires members to make a personal commitment to put their lives on the line on behalf of their fellow citizens, and to risk their lives anywhere in the world that the nation deems it appropriate that they do so;

WHAREAS, the burden associated with military service is not only borne by those in the Canadian military, but also by their families, who make untold sacrifices to help ensure the success of Canadian Armed Forces missions;

WHEREAS, the Conservative government's approach to veterans' policy demonstrates an utter disregard for our country's social covenant with those who serve in the military, particularly through its aggressive funding cuts to the supports and services that veterans need;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT a future Liberal government will uphold the principles of this social covenant in its defence and veterans policies, and will live up to our country's sacred obligation to care for veterans and their families throughout their lives by allowing them to maintain a quality of life that is worthy of the sacrifices that they have made for Canada;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a future Liberal government will introduce legislation to strengthen the New Veterans Charter to reflect this commitment.
Liberal Caucus

Liberal Party of Canada 2014 Policy Resolutions

45. Support for Military Personnel and Their Families

WHEREAS Canadian military personnel protect and support the way of life and values of all Canadians, and the sovereignty of Canada, domestically and internationally;

WHEREAS the support provided by the military to all Canadians frequently results in significant personal cost to individual members of the military and their families;

WHEREAS recent changes in compensation programs to military personnel have resulted in impoverished living standards for many, particularly for wounded personnel and their families;

WHEREAS Canada has an obligation to ensure that members of the military are treated fairly during their military service and afterwards;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urges the Government of Canada to review compensation for active military personnel to ensure that the pay received is equitable, and is attractive to those considering a military career;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urges the Government of Canada to create programs to assist military personnel and their families in their transition into the community following assignments overseas;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urges the Government of Canada to improve medical and psychiatric care available to military personnel who have been injured while in military service;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada urges the Government of Canada to create compensation for injured military personnel that fairly reflects the sacrifice and injury that such personnel have endured, and which includes training for meaningful employment for the remainder of their military service and afterwards.

Liberal Party of Canada (Alberta)

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

New announcement: Should government pay final moves of retired soldiers?

Should government pay final moves of retired soldiers?

Politics | Feb 18, 2014 | 10:09

Veterans Affairs ombudsman Pat Stogran and retired colonel Michel Drapeau on Andrew Leslie's moving expenses and whether benefit program rules need to change

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Veterans start fund in bid to oust Tories

Veterans start fund in bid to oust Tories

Published February 17, 2014 - 6:36pm
Last Updated February 18, 2014 - 7:47am

'War chest' follows office closures, say organizers


SYDNEY — The war chest has been hauled up from the basement, ready to be used to help defeat the federal Conservative government, say local war veterans.

"The plan is to build a war chest so we can have money to do the things we need to do to make sure this government falls," said Ron Clarke, a veteran who spearheaded the now-failed campaign to keep Sydney's Veterans Affairs office open.

Clarke, a 36-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, told members of the province's standing committee on veterans affairs in Sydney on Monday that vets across the country believe now is the time for action.

"What we're going to try to do is create a veterans war chest in each of the provinces … and when this is over, any money left over will go into veterans organizations, like the legions or something else," he said following his submission to the committee.

"The offices will be reopened if we get rid of the Conservatives, and I'm not saying vote for the Liberals or NDP; what I'm saying is to get rid of the government that will not reopen our offices," he added.

Nine Veterans Affairs offices in different areas of the country have closed.

To emphasize the need for hands-on, face-to-face assistance for veterans, Clarke told the committee about a friend who had been wounded in Cyprus many years ago.

"He had a bullet lodged in his chest," said Clarke. After being refused assistance from Veterans Affairs time and time again, the man committed suicide.

He said those Veterans Affairs employees who were trained to work with people with post-traumatic stress disorder were invaluable for veterans traumatized by service in wartime.

Clarke said there is no substitute for someone who is trained to ask the right kinds of questions and to help veterans access the services they need.

"I used to think (the government) just didn't understand how difficult it is for some of us to use the phone or the computer but now I've come to a different conclusion," Clarke said.

He suggested if veterans find it difficult to access the services, they won't access them, leading the federal government to conclude they don't need them, "thinking the veterans would just swallow their pride and walk away. To hell with that idea."

Clarke said there used to be 17 Veterans Affairs workers at the Sydney office looking after 4,200 veterans. Now there is just one worker at the Service Canada office, he said.

The 4,200 veterans have been added to the over 14,000 clients already served in the Halifax office.

Charlie Palmer, 93, a Second World War veteran, said he felt a strong desire to show up at Monday's meeting. "It's absolutely unacceptable that we here in Cape Breton, with an out-migration of population, that we should accept the loss of our 13 or 14 jobs," he told the committee.

"Most of my colleagues (Second World World veterans) could not make it here today; now if someone could tell me how they could make it to Halifax?

"I'm very fearful (the government) is going to say, 'Forget about down there (in Cape Breton). We don't have the population of support. … We're OK across the rest of the country. We'll balance the budget and that will do the trick,'" said Palmer.

Pam Eyking, committee chairwoman and Liberal MLA for Victoria-The Lakes, said she and committee members would put their "heads together" to come up with a response to submissions from veterans. She said the committee was in Sydney to get some ideas on how to help veterans.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Monday, February 17, 2014

New announcement: Fantino should ‘walk the talk’

Fantino should 'walk the talk'

The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, pictured in this file photo.

Published: Monday, 02/17/2014 12:00 am EST

OTTAWA—Needless to say, the past few weeks have not been good for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and the Harper government regarding the treatment of veterans. Many of the government's wounds were self-inflicted. It's true, as others have stated, that Fantino is not a good communicator. One might even say he is a non-communicator. He proved as much during his seven-minute, now-publicized scrum with veterans. Although other Conservative MPs, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Parliamentary secretary, have attempted to present the flimsy case for veterans support at Service Canada centres, the entire issue was bungled and mismanaged from the beginning when Fantino told veterans on Jan. 28 that "the decision has been made." This is what Fantino considers consulting with veterans on important issues of concern to them.

One cannot help but wonder where Fantino is getting his advice on veterans' issues and message delivery strategy. The Harper government says it supports veterans, but does the complete opposite when it closed eight Veterans Affairs Canada service offices on Jan. 31.

Fantino takes no responsibility for his actions or for the decisions of the Harper government. First, it was the veterans causing problems. Then it was opposition MPs raising the issue in the House of Commons. After that, the Public Service Alliance of Canada was agitating the veterans. On Feb. 4, during a Radio 1010 Talk Show, Fantino blamed others for spreading misinformation. Really?

The Prime Minister first said there were 584 Service Canada centres serving veterans. Then Fantino said there were 600 offices, or was it 620? Then, on Feb. 3, it was his Parliamentary secretary, Conservative MP Parm Gill, saying there are 650 Service Canada centres helping veterans. They wondered why veterans were complaining about the closure of eight offices when more than 650 Service Canada centres with no trained staff or Veterans Affairs Canada employees are here to help them.

On Jan. 31, I invited Gill to visit a Service Canada centre in Ottawa to ask a simple veterans question. He refused my request. On Feb. 3, I asked his office a second time and my request was ignored. On Feb. 3, I asked Fantino to visit a Service Canada centre to see firsthand how the process works. Personally, I know how it works. I've been to two Service Canada offices four times during the past 18 months. I asked a routine veterans related question. In each and every visit the response was the same: "We can't help you."

I guess the minister of Veterans Affairs and Parliamentary secretary are afraid to see just how terrible, or non-existent, the service is. So, in the end, if the answer is "we can't help you," it doesn't matter if there are 650 offices, 6,500 offices, or 6,500,000 offices. The result is the same. It's about service, not numbers.

Let's look at other issues.

Parliamentary Offices. Is the minister of Veterans Affairs a veteran? No. Is the Parliamentary secretary a veteran? No. Is the Conservative chair of the Veterans Affairs Committee a veteran? No. One would think, given the number of Conservative MPs who are veterans, that at least one of these three important positions would be filled by veterans, but they are not.

Veterans Affairs Ministerial Staff. The minister of Veterans Affairs has 10 full-time staff. Does he hire veterans to work for him? No. Only one person out of 10 working in his office is a veteran. It's not surprising, therefore, that the minister is ill-advised on veterans issues. The minister of Veterans Affairs does not want veterans working in his office. Veterans on staff might tell him what is of concern to veterans. We can't have that, can we?

Bill-C11. Priority Hiring for Injured Veterans. Although this bill has received second reading, it's without substance that has yet to be discussed at the House Veterans Affairs Committee. It's obviously not a priority, because staff in the minister's office cannot and will not provide information on private sector companies with which it has entered into veterans' priority hiring agreements.

Veterans Affairs Stakeholders Committee. The last time this committee met was in December 2012, 15 months ago. Veterans do not have collective input to the ministry on veterans' issues, a ministry which supposedly advises the minister.

Given the lack of veterans working in the minister's office and the lack of input and consultation from veterans' organizations, it's not surprising that Fantino is poorly advised. The minister's website constantly brags about partnerships with the private sector to hire veterans, although won't say how many have been hired, and chooses not to hire veterans to work for him.

The message from veterans to Fantino is this: If you want other people to hire veterans, you should also do it. Show some leadership and good political judgment by hiring veterans to work for you. Would you take your car to a garage where there are no mechanics? Would you go to a hospital where there are no doctors? If Fantino were to hire more veterans to work for him, and he's had offers, perhaps his days would be less stressful and more productive.

Alternatively, if Fantino claims he is being adequately advised, then it's evident that he does not care about veterans. He's just following orders. I know one thing. It's not positive dialogue when the minister of Veterans Affairs walks into a room full of veterans who want to talk about an important issue and says, before they have a chance to speak: "The decision has been made," and then issues a misleading press release saying the minister had a "round table" discussion with veterans. As Stephen Harper said in 2012: "veterans deserve better."

Jerry Kovacs is with the Canadian Veterans Advocacy in Ottawa.
The Hill Times

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Friday, February 14, 2014

New announcement: Veterans' medical records to be held by private American firm: NDP

Veterans' medical records to be held by private American firm: NDP

Read more:

The Canadian Press
Published Friday, February 14, 2014 11:48AM EST

OTTAWA -- The NDP says the federal government is transferring veterans' medical records to the custody of a private American company.

MP Peter Stoffer says veterans seeking help will now have to wait while files are retrieved from a company called Iron Mountain Holdings.

He also says the government is closing what are known as treatment authorization centres, responsible for approving treatments needed by veterans.

Now, he says, that approval will have to come from a private company.

Stoffer says it is wrong to put medical files into the hands of a private, for-profit firm.

He says it would mean delays for vets who would have to wait for their records to be retrieved, then passed on through Veterans Affairs.

He also said a private firm shouldn't be deciding whether vets can get treatments they need.

"I find this absolutely unconscionable," he said. "What the Conservative government is now doing is taking what was a very good public-service work done by dedicated employees for many, many years and turning all that work over to the private sector ... with no consultation no discussion."

The Harper government has been harshly criticized in recent weeks over its moves to close some Veterans Affairs offices.

Veterans Affairs Canada said the decision to close nine locations was based on declining use. It said veterans will be handled through nearby Service Canada offices.

Read more:

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Thursday, February 13, 2014




OTTAWA – After weeks of negative comments and adverse reactions from veterans of all eras regarding Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino`s boorish behaviour to Canadian veterans on January 28th, we are saddened to note that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty ignored an opportunity to sincerely make amends with the veterans community, in particular, the thousands of veterans across Canada who are negatively affected by the recent district office closures.

``The fact that there was nothing substantial for veterans in the Budget is extremely disappointing``, said Jerry Kovacs, a Director with Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA). ``The reality is that the Harper Government doesn't care about Canadian veterans and their families. They say they have increased spending without acknowledging the fact that 150 valiant Canadians died and more than 2,000 were injured during the Harper Government`s stewardship of the war."

Michael L Blais CD, President and founder of the CVA, expressed bitter disappointment that none of the major issues confronting veterans and their families were addressed in the Budget. Mr. Blais said: "I find it unconscionable that with the high level of pain and suffering that Canada's sons and daughters are experiencing as a consequence of the Afghanistan war, the war in former Yugoslavia and in Africa, that this government would give more funding for snowmobile trails than for the care of veterans."

Blais cited as examples the plight of thousands of seriously disabled veterans on the VAC Earnings Loss Replacement program or War Pensioner Allowance who for years had their awards unlawfully offset by the amount of their pain and suffering awards.

"Why have these disabled veterans not been given the same retroactivity obligation as was accorded to those on the SISIP Program? Why does this budget not provide the mechanism to ensure that the monies taken away from them are returned? Why does this government continue to ignore their pleas for help?" asked Mike Blais.

Mike Bais cited grave concerns that the monies allocated to the Last Post Burial Fund will not be delivered and the 66% refusal rate of applications will be only marginally change. Two thirds of all applicants in the past have been refused. In addition, neither Mr. Blais nor Mr. Kovacs are confident that Bill C-11, the ``priority hiring`` bill for injured veterans (not passed by Parliament) will have any impact under the current regime's fiscal austerity programs and continuing efforts to downsize the public service. "This will just be another headline without substance", Blais said.

``This Budget was extremely disappointing for veterans of all eras", said Kovacs. ``It`s obvious that Julian Fantino has very little influence in Cabinet and/or is not standing up for the rights of veterans and their families. He says he cares, but it`s obvious he can`t persuade the Prime Minister or Finance Minister to make the important decisions that `support and honor` the sacrifice of the wounded. Tuesday was a very sad day for veterans. It was worse than we expected.``

CONTACT: Mike Blais (905) 357-3306 or Jerry Kovacs (613) 915-1516


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Veterans Can Thank Me And Others For The SISIP Victory, Not the Courts, Says Conservative MP Laurie Hawn

Veterans Can Thank Me And Others For The SISIP Victory, Not the Courts, Says Conservative MP Laurie Hawn

The New Veterans Charter (NVC) and the SISIP clawback issue are among the many points of contention that veterans have with the Conservative government. Conservative MP and former fighter pilot Laurie Hawn sees himself as the champion of veterans and has views on both topics. This is a passage from a larger email Mr. Hawn sent to a veteran. Here is what he writes:

"The whole package of benefits under the NVC is an improvement over the old Pension Act and even Peter Stoffer admits that. The supposed issues from Bill C-201 and C-215 were and are bogus. Manuge, etc. won on the SISIP clawback issue, because I and others worked hard to convince the PM to not appeal; even though the courts were ruling on emotion and not the law. We have done more and we will continue to do more with people of good faith."

So that is what Mr. Hawn has to say about that.

And from the archives there is this letter written by Donna Campbell and published in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 30, 2013. It outlines the views that a veteran's family has on the above topics and Mr. Hawn's previous statements on them:

As the wife of a seriously disabled veteran, I can tell you that MP Laurie Hawn is not giving you all the facts.

In his letter to the Journal on Nov. 15, Hawn says disabled soldiers can receive up to $548,000 in lump sums.

Yes, they can, but what he isn't telling you is he is combining the maximum settlements of two totally different awards; a lump sum through the new veterans charter and a group insurance plan settlement.

The fact is in April 2006, the Canadian government imposed a new disability compensation scheme on all its Armed Forces as part of its new veterans charter.

This replaced tax-free, lifelong, monthly medical pensions with a paltry one-time lump-sum payment that is a fraction of civil injury settlements.
At the same time, Veterans Affairs unilaterally ceased all tax-free benefits formerly provided to disabled veterans and their families.

All veterans disabled since 2006 are financially disadvantaged compared with their peers receiving a medical pension. Many will experience financial difficulty until the federal government enacts the more than 200 internal recommendations that Veterans Affairs has been sitting on since late 2010.
Years of government inaction has forced six seriously disabled veterans to launch a class-action lawsuit against the federal government. The suit is based on Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees all Canadians equal protection under the law … except disabled veterans?

Canada's new generation of disabled combat veterans want nothing more than fair compensation for their physical and psychological sacrifices in the service of Canada.
The class-action lawsuit is aimed at changing the way disability settlements are "awarded" to our veterans victimized by the veterans charter and to challenge Veteran Affairs' withdrawal of all tax-free benefits.

The lump-sum component of the veterans charter is supposed to compensate the disabled veteran for a lifetime of pain and suffering. There is no financial "award" for the actual loss of limbs and other equally devastating injuries.
Under the charter, veterans receive a monthly income support only if they are incapable of gainful employment.

The so-called "earnings loss benefit" is nothing more than the Service Income Security Insurance Plan's (SISIP) long-term disability coverage that all full-time soldiers must purchase as a condition of employment.

That long-term disability coverage guarantees replacement income if a serving member is released from the Canadian Forces after becoming totally disabled (up to age 65).
The plan guarantees 75 per cent (taxed) of the income the veterans were receiving when they were forced to leave the military. Because SISIP is an insurance plan, all other earnings are clawed back – including any military pension the disabled veteran has earned.

As a result of taxation on the veterans charter's 75-percent income replacement, our new disabled veterans are the only class of citizen guaranteed to have a lower income and standard of living as the direct result of a workplace injury, let alone a catastrophic disability incurred in serving Canada.

Veterans Affairs' mandate is to provide services and benefits that respond to the needs of veterans and their families, in recognition of their service to Canada.
The government is failing in its moral and ethical obligation to some of the most vulnerable members of our society – Canada's new generation of disabled veteran.

Donna Campbell lives with her husband, a disabled veteran, in Sturgeon County.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Monday, February 10, 2014

New announcement: Canadian veterans do get their benefits Michel Doiron, ADM Service Delivery

Canadian veterans do get their benefits

Some soldiers face 'unfair' fight for benefits (Feb. 6)

I wish to comment regarding the claims made by the Military Ombudsman that more should be done to ensure veterans receive the benefits they deserve.

In fact, approximately 85 per cent of all applications for Veterans Affairs Canada's disability benefits will ultimately result in a favourable decision.

Veterans Affairs requests additional details only when the veterans' medical information is missing from their military records or was not provided initially by the applicant. Having said that, we do need to ensure that the records we will use to make a decision are reflective of the veteran's current medical situation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the fact that Canadian veterans have one of the most robust rehabilitation programs of our allies, designed to help veterans transition back to civilian life. The New Veterans Charter provides real support for medical rehabilitation, in addition to career enhancement and progression through complimentary tuition and related costs. Also, if a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces is injured in the service of Canada, these programs are in place and standing ready to assist.

Michel Doiron, Assistant Deputy Minister, Service Delivery, Veterans Affairs Canada

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The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New announcement: Warrant Officer David Shultz ‘plunged into intense enemy fire’

Warrant Officer David Shultz 'plunged into intense enemy fire'

'I think about it every day. It's tough not to,' says soldier who earned the Star of Military Valour for his actions.

Warrant Officer David Shultz was doing the good work in Kandahar province on May 6, 2008, protecting officers who were visiting village elders to talk about building mosques and schools, asking if they were threatened by the Taliban. Walking to the second shura of the day, they were ambushed, an attack they handled fairly quickly.

They were waiting for the Afghan National Army to take over and deal with the Taliban dead when the real trouble began and Shultz's muscular heroism shone.

Shultz, now 41, was on his second tour in Afghanistan. He was a father of two, a patrol commander with Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the son of an air force captain. He had joined the army at 18, looking for adventure.

It was a terrible day, he says now from Edmonton. "I think about it every day. It's tough not to." He imagines how it might have gone differently.

"We got hit hard: heavy machine-gun fire, large explosions, rocket-propelled grenades, everything went right to hell. It was hard to see and hard to hear, we had to process everything, to know where the enemy was and find our people."

He called for airstrikes, but the Canadians were too close to the enemy. "They had us on three flanks and they were turning our area into frikkin' rubble. Walls were caving in because their machine-guns were tearing everything to pieces."

A medic, Cpl. Mike Starker, was wounded. There was blood everywhere. While trying to load the injured man onto a skid to carry him away, Shultz and the medic slid into an irrigation canal with water to their waists. "It was hard to pull him up, but I got him and carried him 25 metres, it doesn't sound like very much, but I had some help. . . "

Another man was also injured. "Blood was shooting out and he slid in the water, too. One of his guys got a tourniquet on him and kept on shooting." But Shultz had him, too, yelling at him to move. He'd come to the rescue of two men. He says it wasn't just him, of course. "It took every one of the soldiers that day. It was a team effort."

Then, "things were getting stressful," Shutlz says. "We were completely soaked, fatigued, dehydrated. Now both sides were firing rockets at each other because everyone was running short of ammo."

Light Armoured Vehicles arrived to take the Canadians to their forward operating base. Men were throwing up, some were crying. The medic was dead. And Shultz's heart was burning with revenge, an emotion he did not act on.

"I wish we could have done something better or safer to get us out of there quicker. But you can 'what if' to death and I've done it a thousand times, wishing for a different outcome."

Now he works at a desk as a regimental warrant officer. He loves his time with his children. They go to the park. His yellow lab Rika loves to get in the water. "I live for the children. Ethan is 5 now and Jett is 3 — he was born just before I left in 2008. I kiss them every day and every night."

Then there's his wife: "If there's any spot to say thanks to Jennifer for putting up with me. There have been tough times, with me away on training and two kids. It takes real tenacity and she's a great woman."

His service in Afghanistan has left him a different man. "When I'm outside, I've got a fairly serious look, looking around all the time, assessing what's going on, instead of just enjoying what's going on. I have kids, and they are frikkin' hilarious, but sometimes I'm looking for danger instead of being happy."

He adds: "It's getting better."

"We're back in Canada and things are great. I've got a beautiful family. Fresh water, food and all the luxury of being in this country. Holy smoke, everything is fantastic."

He was awarded the Star of Military Valour in 2009. "I didn't win the medal; I wear the medal on behalf of all my soldiers. I wish all of them had a similar thing to put on their uniform. Every guy was fighting for his life and for each other."

The citation reads: "Regardless of the risk, Warrant Officer Shultz plunged into intense enemy fire to . . . direct his soldiers and engage the enemy. He repeatedly re-entered the danger zone." He was an inspiration to his soldiers.

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Saturday, February 8, 2014

New announcement: Former Soldier Who Lost Part Of His Brain For Canada Says Sacrifice Being Demean

Former Soldier Who Lost Part Of His Brain For Canada Says Sacrifice Being Demeaned

Posted: 11/10/2013 8:54 pm EST | Updated: 01/23/2014 6:58 pm EST

As he lay dying, his brain exposed by a piece of shrapnel the size of a bottle cap, Cpl. Bruce Moncur's thoughts drifted to Pleasure Beach.

It was Labour Day weekend at home in Canada, which seemed like a different planet than the Panjwai district of Afghanistan.

He guessed his family had finished the chili cook-off at their spot by the water in Essex, Ontario. Maybe they were playing horseshoes.

Everyone would be together, blissfully unaware of the friendly fire. The bloody mess in the sand, the yellow liquid coming out of his ears and nose.

His peace made with God, Moncur tried to reach them — somehow — by repeating the same simple message.

I just want you to know that I love you.

Then, he gave up. He resigned himself to the fact he wouldn't be going home.

He was 22 years old.

He had been in Afghanistan for three weeks.


How much is a leg worth?

Rather, how much is the pain of losing a leg worth?

What about an arm? A left thumb? A spleen? A right foot?

These are the kinds of questions Moncur didn't have time to ask after the incident that changed him. The focus, then, was survival.

He was caught in a friendly fire mishap on Sept. 4, 2006, in which an American aircraft mistakenly opened fire on a Canadian platoon during Operation Medusa — a Canadian-led offensive. An A-10 attack jet inadvertently strafed soldiers huddled around a garbage-lit fire at the base of the rugged hillside of Masum Ghar, west of Kandahar City. Pte. Mark Anthony Graham was killed.

Moncur was eating breakfast at the time.

"The next thing I know I was tossed in the air. Just flung," he said recently from his home in Windsor, Ont., seven years later. "And I landed with such impact it knocked me unconscious."

When he came to, his right arm was flailing "like a fish out of water." He was certain it was detached but soon learned he still had two working arms, two good legs.

Then, the blood began to pour, ceaselessly, down his face.

Moncur tried to catch it, cupping his hands and letting them fill, before conceding the futility of such a move.

Bruce, you can't use that anymore, he thought.

Moncur crawled on his belly — his face scraping against rock because he couldn't lift his head — until he reached fellow soldiers who had little idea how to help him. He was also hit with shrapnel in the back and buttocks.

His friends loaded him on a stretcher and kissed his cheek, convinced they'd never see him alive again.

Moncur was airlifted to Camp Nathan Smith in Kandahar, where he underwent a surgery in which his odds of survival were pegged at 50/50. He had a second surgery in Landstuhl, Germany, but a piece of uranium was lodged too far inside his head to be removed.

A week later, he was sent to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto to begin his long road to peace.

In total, five per cent of his brain was removed.

How much is that pain worth?


In 2005, Canada changed the way it compensates disabled and injured veterans with the unanimous adoption of the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act, better known as the New Veterans Charter.

Though enacted by the Liberal government of former prime minister Paul Martin, the charter came into force on April 1, 2006, under Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

Up until that point, the Pension Act ensured Canada's injured veterans received monthly allowances and pensions, dependent on the severity of disabilities and marital and family status. According to a 2011 Queen's University study, a maximum disability pension of up to $2,397.83 a month was available tax-free for the rest of a veteran's life, with hundreds extra to provide for a spouse and children.

The charter, however, brought in one-time, lump sum payments dependent on disability, military rank and eligibility for work. The maximum amount of these awards — meant to compensate for pain and suffering, not replace income — was set at $250,000 in 2006. After being indexed for inflation, it now sits at $298,588.

With a focus on helping veterans transition to civilian life, the charter contains rehabilitation and vocational services not available under the old system. It also offers a monthly, taxable earnings loss benefit that ensures, for at least two years, veterans taking part in rehabilitation programs receive up to 75 per cent of their pre-release salary. Vets who are deemed to be permanently incapacitated can have this benefit extended until the age of 65.

In 2011, Conservatives increased the allowance for the permanently incapacitated and gave eligible vets the option to receive disability awards as annual installments, instead of all at once.

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino says the Conservative government has invested almost $5 billion new dollars in retraining, rehabilitation and medical and financial benefits.

But the workers-compensation-style model of paying for pain and suffering, for those body parts irreparably damaged or gone forever, hasn't changed. An arm or a leg should get a soldier the maximum payout, but other body parts are assessed differently according to what soldiers refer to as a "meat chart."

And the message from the veterans ombudsman, veterans groups, former soldiers and the Royal Canadian Legion on that particular issue is clear: injured Canadian soldiers deserve better.


$22,000 and change.

That's what Cpl. Bruce Moncur says he received back in 2006 for that chunk of his brain and other injuries.

Moncur would later get a lump sum compensation for the post-traumatic stress disorder he was diagnosed with in 2010. He says that most vets he has spoken to say they have received a one-time payment of $120,000 to $150,000 for a PTSD diagnosis.

The military covered a year of his university education at the University of Windsor as part of the regular officer training program. After he "went civilian" in 2010, he paid for the rest of his history degree on his own.

At the time of his injury, he was assessed against the maximum of $250,000, meaning Veterans Affairs pegged his disability level at less than 10 per cent. If he had been confined to a wheelchair, he would have had a disability level of 100 per cent.

"I couldn't believe it. I was expecting at least six figures," he said. "I mean, I lost brain."

Moncur said the cheque arrived without explanation while he was recovering at his aunt's home in Harrow, Ont.

They assumed it was a mistake. It had to be.

After all, he was working through intensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy, learning how to speak properly again, to read, to walk without help. The headaches were excruciating, the fatigue was seemingly endless.

Moncur decided to appeal, but had no idea what to do. He felt Veterans Affairs representatives weren't interested in explaining the process, but they did tell him his lawyer for the appeal process would not be covered. His local MP Jeff Watson conceded he had "no idea" how the process worked, Moncur said.

For the first couple years, he felt he was banging his head against a wall, uranium in there and all.

But after claiming PTSD, he was given a helpful case worker in Veterans Affair Windsor, a district office that will close due to cuts in February, 2014. She pointed him in the direction of a Legion representative who used to work for the government department.

The rep explained to Moncur that while he could get unlimited physical reassessments, he would only get one formal appeal on his award.

"The guy from the Legion had to tell me that you didn't want to use your only appeal," Moncur said.

The wounded soldier feared he was getting the runaround from the government all along.

Royal Canadian Legion representative Andrea Siew says the government doesn't do enough to help vets understand how the new system works.

And with cuts to Veterans Affairs, it will be even more difficult to have knowledgeable people in district offices.

The message is often "go online and figure it out," she said, or go into a Service Canada and submit applications at a kiosk. Veterans need someone to talk to, she said, particularly the injured ones.

"If I'm in my mother's basement, I'm 23 years old, I'm a reservist who served in Afghanistan… now living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where they're closing a district office, how do I find out about all this stuff?" she asked.

"There's lots of things that are there, but it's really complicated."

Legion reps from 25 service offices across Canada are going to every single reserve unit to let them know they can apply for disability benefits.

"But Veterans Affairs isn't doing that," she said.

Siews says the Legion wants disability awards raised to what is provided to injured civilian workers.

"The problem with the disability award is it's not consistent with federal court decisions for injury cases. It's lower," she said. "Probably $50,000 lower than what civilian courts are providing for workplace injuries."

Moncur's physical reassessment — which he said amounted to a basic check-up — came back with no change in February, 2013.

But his biggest frustration was still to come.


Nearly 100 years ago, before the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister Robert Borden made a vow to troops that laid the groundwork for decades of government policy, but has never been enshrined in the Constitution.

"You can go into this action feeling assured of this, and as the head of the government I give you this assurance: That you need not fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country and Empire in what you are about to do and what you have already done," Borden said.

"The government and the country will consider it their first duty to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home… that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died."

Today, the Harper government is facing a class-action lawsuit from soldiers who served in Afghanistan and feel that solemn promise has been broken.

These veterans say the 2006 charter discriminates against them by providing less than what veterans of the Second World War and Korea received.

One of the plaintiffs, Maj. Mark Campbell, lost both legs above the knee, a testicle, and had an eardrum ruptured after a roadside explosion in 2008.

He received a lump sum payment of $260,000 for pain and suffering, on top of his military pension, earnings loss benefit and permanent impairment allowance.

The government's defence is that it isn't bound by the promises of previous governments, dating back to the First World War, in the care of wounded soldiers.

Gordon Moore, the Dominion president of the Legion, has called that argument "reprehensible."

"There is only one veteran, whether you are 19 years of age or 105," he said in a recent interview.

The suit is largely a result of the advocacy of Jim Scott, whose son, Dan, was injured in Afghanistan after he was hit with discharge from a Canadian mine in 2010.

Dan, then a part-time reservist, lost a kidney, spleen, and part of his pancreas. He was awarded $41,500.

"My wife actually works on litigated bodily injury claims for an insurance company, so she knew that was disproportionately low," said Jim, a retired police sergeant in Surrey, B.C.

He said he checked with a workers compensation program in British Columbia and found a similar injury in a logging accident would pay around $1,400 a month.

Dan told his father there were plenty of other soldiers receiving low settlements.

After the Scott family was told by Veterans Affairs that this was how things work under the new funding formula, Jim set out to find a law firm that would have the charter impartially reviewed in court. They all told him the Crown Liability and Proceeding Act prevents soldiers from suing on matters of remuneration.

Jim believes the government "picked on soldiers" because they were unable to sue for more and the feds wanted to liquidate their liability, not unlike someone wanting to quickly settle things after a car accident.

National firm Miller Thomson agreed to take the case pro bono, Jim said, because it's something that needs fixing. Jim founded an organization, The Equitas Society, which is handling the disbursement costs — expert medical opinions, court filing fees — which he pegs at a minimum of $100,000.

There's no money to be made in this lawsuit, but Jim hopes a judge will order the government to change the way it compensates injured veterans.

"These kids who are missing parts of their legs or have their legs reconstructed with steel rods and plates, you can tell when they walk down the street that they're disabled," he said. "The compensation that they got is basically nothing in comparison to what other Canadians would get and I just don't know why you would want to select soldiers as the people we want to compensate the least."

Jim, a former Conservative Party riding president, said while this isn't about blaming the Harper government, Tories own the issue now.

"Personally, I just think that the government's priority is to balance the budget by 2015 and this would blow a big hole in that plan," he said.


Michael Blais has a simple message for veterans who receive disability awards: appeal.

"They always low-ball you," he said.

The president and founder of The Canadian Veterans Advocacy says vets from the war in Afghanistan are being treated in an "unconscionable" manner on the issue of pain and suffering.

Blais, himself a former soldier on a monthly disability pension, said Moncur's case is another "obscene" example.

"Injuries like that to the brain, they don't just heal up," he said. "You don't just stick a Band-Aid on it."

While conceding the new charter has good elements, Blais says that by weighing the sacrifices of one soldier differently than another, a "sacred obligation" of equal respect and care is not being met.

Blais presents the comparison of "Sergeant Juno Beach" and "Sergeant Panjwai Valley." Both are about 25, married, with two kids.

Sergeant Juno Beach loses two legs in 1944, and is provided, under the Pension Act, a monthly pension based on his disability for the rest of his life.

"Let's say he lives 60 years. When you add up all these pensions, pain and suffering awards, the sum comes up to almost $2 million, if not more," Blais said.

Today, Sergeant Panjwai Valley loses both legs in the Afghan war and receives, under the new rules, a maximum of $298,588 for that suffering.

Blais calls that maximum number "disgusting."

"As we assess the consequences of war, as we see those returning to our community bereft of arms and legs, scarred emotionally, mentally and physically, we have to recognize that sacrifice is equal to those who served in generations before," he said.

At a minimum, he says disability awards should be raised and tells vets who receive them to ask if they truly reflect their level of sacrifice.

"We must stand together and fight to ensure that the standards our forefathers set in blood, courage and incredible sacrifice are extended to those today who bear the same cross, who have offered the same level of sacrifice, who have suffered the same consequences of war," he said.


Cpl. Bruce Moncur, now 30, keeps his military medals in his underwear drawer. When he sees them, he knows it's time for laundry.

Reminders are helpful for someone with short-term memory loss.

"I can't tell you how many appointments I've missed, how many parties I've forgotten," he said. "Sometimes I feel like an old man."

Moncur has a large, visible scar of a few inches on his head. He says he sees a psychiatrist twice a month and gets a neurological exam each year. He often gets dizzy spells and requires 12 hours of sleep. His dreams are horrible and the fatigue makes the PTSD worse. He has anger issues, at times, and doesn't do well with crowds.

His head aches, often.

And he is absolutely petrified of Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease robbing him of a happy life with a wife and kids, someday. He fears his brain injury has increased his risk of those diseases.

He says completing his history degree this past January was one of the hardest things he's ever done. It took him weeks to recover after exams.

"I would push myself to a level that it would literally drain the life out of me," Moncur said.

But despite all this, Moncur said he learned this past summer from a Veterans Affairs employee that his injury had been placed in the category of "headaches."

He said it took him seven years to learn that chunk of information and resents the classification deeply.

"It's not just headaches," he said. "It's being shot in the head."

The former soldier will continue with the next steps of his appeal: answering in detail questions about his quality of life and getting a doctor to complete a 15-page questionnaire. But he says he'll do so at his own pace.

Or, if it's easier, Moncur has another offer for the government.

"I'll give you the $22,000 back. I still have the $22,000, I didn't spend it. I didn't squander it," he said.

"You can give me my brains in a jar and I'll put it on my mantle."


Canada's veterans ombudsman has said, as a "first step," the maximum amount for disability awards should be raised to $342,000 — the current judicial cap for non-pecuniary damages awarded by Canadian courts.

Ombudsman Guy Parent's long-awaited assessment of the charter, released last month, meticulously weighed benefits and entitlements under the new charter with those from the old pension-for-life system.

In the most noteworthy revelation, Parent highlighted that hundreds of severely disabled veterans will take a major financial hit once they retire because some benefits will end at 65.

But the review paper only briefly touched on the issue of disability awards, which have not been increased, beyond annual indexing, since 2006.

In his report, Parent urged Veterans Affairs to revisit how they compensate veterans who have suffered in the line of duty. He said the government needs to conduct research and talk to veterans about what the maximum compensation should be.

As of March 2013, there were 38,380 veterans in receipt of the disability award, with that number expected to increase by 5,000 per year over the next five years.

Parent's analysis shows that increasing disability awards would cost taxpayers about $70 million.

A review of Bill C-55, which enacted the enhancements made by Tories in 2011, is required by legislation and expected this fall.


Moncur doesn't want to sound bitter.

At a Windsor bar called Rock Bottom, where they still let you throw peanut shells on the ground, he says almost dying puts everything in perspective. So too does his job working with the developmentally challenged at Community Living Essex County.

On Remembrance Day, he says he'll have a drink and remember his buddies who died, the families they left behind.

"And how close my family was to losing me," he said.

But he won't dwell. That's just too tiresome.

Would the kid who went to war looking for adventure do it all over again? No chance. And, when asked, he tells young people to avoid joining the military unless there is no other option.

"Don't get caught up in the romance of fighting for your country," he said. "Don't get caught up in all the stories they tell you."

Still, he knows he can't change the past, what happened to him.

And while he feels betrayed, at times, by the government whose call he answered, he says he doesn't want to be angry anymore.

"I just want this to end," he said. "But I'm not willing to be treated in such a way that is demeaning or under-represents my sacrifice."

Despite it all, Moncur says he hasn't been this happy in years. Sure, he's missing a part of himself and the money he thinks he has more than earned. But he's alive.

He's found a girl he can't stop talking about.

And he gets to see sunset glow.

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs said staff were unavailable for an interview about this story with The Huffington Post Canada.


Canadian Veterans Advocacy

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Medically released vets being denied benefits in 'unfair' process: ombudsman

Medically released vets being denied benefits in 'unfair' process: ombudsman

Read more:


The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2014 3:35PM EST

OTTAWA -- The country's military ombudsman says some soldiers being hustled out the door on medical discharges find they don't qualify for benefits because Veterans Affairs uses its own, more stringent criteria, in what has become an unfair process.

Pierre Daigle, whose term ends in a few weeks, is telling a Senate committee that many ex-soldiers have to fight to prove that the conditions that made them ineligible to serve are in fact a result of their service.

Once they are released, Veterans Affairs demands that the ill and injured be subject to a separate assessment above and beyond whatever examination has been conducted at National Defence.

For veterans, it can be an infuriating, bureaucratic process that too often leads to a denial of benefits and a lengthy, unnecessary appeals process.

Daigle says it is unfair and needs to be addressed.

His comments echo similar complaints from the country's veterans ombudsman, Guy Parent.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Canadian Veterans Advocacy and this nationally recognized suicide prevention organization

On Monday, I will be joining the Your Life Counts and heading up their Military Mental Health directorate as part of the formal alliance between the Canadian Veterans Advocacy and this nationally recognized suicide prevention organization, Every life count, but after the scourge of military and veterans taking their lives, we are striving to make a definitive impact and, in time, provide the profession, DISCRETE suicide prevention resources 24/7. Should the catastrophic event transpire, their will be, and is, a family based support network to assist during the grieving process, no matter how long it is. We will fulfill the obligation, we will accept our Sacred Obligation to those who have served and are suffering from mental wounds.

Our immediate focus will be on implementing proactive campaign to END the stigma with in the military, the need for self identification and equally important, ensuring DND and VAC have the resources for you when you do and the healing process begins and thought of suicide are banished.,

Your life counts, no matter how dark the place you are in, your life counts.

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Veterans vow to defeat Conservatives in 2015

Veterans vow to defeat Conservatives in 2015

John Ivison: The Conservatives have cut $13.6B in program spending, but only veterans have noticed

Maybe the Veterans Affairs Minister should actually listen to vets

Vets lose office battle, not the war

Our "Meeting" With Minister Fantino Made Me Sick

Broken soldiers "Prince Edward Island feels the pain of military system failing its own"

Vets unconvinced cuts won't impact services

Ex-soldiers protest Veterans Affairs office closures on Friday

Case worker says federal government not being honest

Stoffer slams decision to close Veterans Affairs offices

For more on Julian Fantino and this crises:

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy Team.