First Blog, first day, November 11

Ottawa — November 11, 2010

Well, finally the day has arrived.  The grapevine has proven to be true: the competition is over; it’s time to go to work. 

My day started with a television appearance and a radio interview. In both instances, interviewers seem to be hung up on comparing me with my predecessor and trying to get my interpretation or my perspective on his actions or his words.

Well, this is not about me and my predecessor; it is about Veterans and their families, and the fact that someone has to ensure that the debt owed to those who serve is repaid in a fair and equitable manner. From now on, that task falls to me.  I have accepted the responsibility and I expect to follow through with it. 

After the interviews, I had the honour and privilege of laying a wreath at the National War Memorial cenotaph.  What a surge of patriotism and infinite feeling of gratitude one gets when attending the Remembrance Day ceremony. 

To experience the meeting of thoughts for the dead and the fallen, the living and the injured, and the reaction of the public at large who witness the sacrifices that those who served with unlimited liability have to pay for their service is an awesome feeling. Veterans of all kinds stand side by side –  traditional Veterans with Canadian Forces Veterans, uniformed CF members beside the RCMP, families and friends of Veterans all united in one group to commemorate unselfish service. At that moment we are no longer just traditional Veterans, peacekeeping Veterans or Afghanistan Veterans; we are one Veteran.

And, the day is not yet over. More interviews this afternoon and then hopefully the calm after the storm.

Tomorrow I will be attending the funeral of CWO (ret`d) Osside, who was the first appointed Canadian Forces Chief Warrant Officer in 1978. As most of you know, I held that appointment from 1995 to 1999. This will be my opportunity to pay my respect to an old colleague who served without conditions.  In my mind, this reinforces the idea that everyday should be a day of remembrance because too many of  our comrades disappear without a simple thank you for their service and for the leadership and faithfulness that inspired so many others to accept the conditions of unlimited liability and to serve this great country so well. Thank-you my friend.

More to come when the dust settles.

Guy Parent

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Comments

K. Wilson said:

Well, it looks as though we have an answer. Our Ombudsman has been silenced. Heil Harper - you have once again managed to cut off the heads of those minions who defy the word of Himself. Rather sad, we had a wonderfully vocal, supportive Ombudsman who actually spoke up for Veterans.

December 15, 2010 1:18 PM

Old Silverback said:

It has been a month since your first, and rather brief, comment on your blog. I must agree with all the the other comments on this site - the dust has certainly settled and we would like to have an idea of what your intentions are in the new year. I am very concerned that the Ombudsman office has been very quiet on the last announcements from the government and most recently on the Auditor Generals review of the NVA and lump sum. These are issues at the heart of your mandate and I want to hear your views. I am very concened that all the momentum Pat Strogran had gathered has been lost. As our Ombudsman you have a responsiblity to voice our concerns both inside the corridors of power and to the media. There is an election coming and I want the NVA and our concerns a wedge issue. The government has managed to split the veterans community and the next electiuon will likely be our ONLY opportunity to force change. Mr Parent, as our Ombudsman, YOU have a responsiblity to inform the media on our concerns and recommended changes. Do not sit back and make our other advocates do all the heavy lifting. We expect leadership from you and your office. Don't let us down!

December 10, 2010 4:30 PM

Old Zipperhead said:

You have been in Office for a month now why the silence? Guy Parent, you were a Search and Rescue Technician for three decades and now you are in a position that can give voice to the concerns and issues that surround Canada’s Veterans. I have known such SAR Tech’s and they are well known to go into a scene that would make most people tremble. The world you are now in is no exception and should be approached in the same manner as you must have done saving a person’s life. There are Veterans that need rescuing sir and the only way that can happen is if you carry on the fight that Pat Stogran started. Do not let the Veterans down!

December 10, 2010 3:17 PM

Kevin Vallieres said:

Well Guy, your blog seem bogged down. Not a single post from you, let alone an answer to my previous question as to when the new legislation the govt has tabled will come into effect. Clearly, Mr. Blackburn and the Harper govt. aren't in any hurry to effect the changes they so convincingly vocalized over the last few months as important changes that will further meet the needs of veterans. I, personally, have no issue with you having been appointed to the office of ombudsman, but where are you Mr. Parent? Why aren't you communicating with us here, in this format that is accessible to veterans all across the country? Why are you not holding the govt. accountable for its actions? (Writer shakes head) This entire system is a sham! Vac is sick from head to foot and not one of you actually really care.

December 6, 2010 2:46 PM

D.D said:

Just wondering when the dust in your world will settle? As an injured veteran who has appreciated the communication and updates provided by the Ombudsman office and this website ... the present silence and lack of any info on future town halls as an example, does nothing to instill hope that the momentum of support for our causes and concerns is continuing. Given the ongoing lack of clarity of recent announcements by the Minister your silence is not necessarily golden.

December 4, 2010 1:38 PM

SpudSoldier said:

Mr. Parent I am a retired soldier but not a client of VAC. I take a great interest in the treatment (or non-treatment) of our Canadian veterans both old and new. I recently took part in the rally for veterans in front of your offices in Charlottetown. I would like to know more about the new charter and the proposed amendments. As of now, I believe that too many of our vets are being short changed and ignored by VAC. I believe that the ombudsman's office is more concerned about their VAC bureaucrats and political masters than about our vets. This I believe is a prevalent belief among veterans and you sir have a major job on your hands to turn that distrust around, especially since you are seen as a lackey for Mr. Harper and Mr. Blackburn. I find it particularly disturbing when a soldier tells me that he is "AFRAID" to talk to VAC or the ombudsman about his dealings with the department. He lives in fear of retaliation if he speaks out. Another soldier tells me he sleeps in his closet at night because of PTSD symptoms and is afraid to ask for help. (yes, I try to convince them to speak up). Is it possible to set up a program for people like these to get help anonymously, even if it is only as a way to get their trust at the beginning? Will there be open forums and information sessions coming up to assist people like me to better understand the charter and its impact on veterans and their families? ? Will you do a paper in black and white comparing what a vet gets now and what a vet would get under the old charter?? Compare apples to apples at several rank levels. Thank you Capt (retd)

December 1, 2010 9:21 PM

hermans said:

Welcome aboard Mr. Parent. I do wish you all the best in this very important job. Representing angry Veterans who have had enough of the smoke screens and the senior bureaucrats will be extremely difficult. Please remember how you want to be remembered by us all in the performance of your duties, as a go getter or a yes man, looking out for yourself first or is it the Vets? Silence from your office over the past week and a half worries me. The issues as mentioned from Mr. Blackburn is just the normal smoke screened given by all politicians, promising the world and hope we go away only on these promises. We need action and information not silence.

November 22, 2010 5:11 PM

Concerned Veteran said:

Mr Parent, I am getting concerned that you have decided not to be vocal in your representation of our veterans. I check the Ombudsman site twice a month for any updates. You have not posted your thoughts on the last announcement by the government regarding benefits and changes to the PIA and ELB. Nor have you provided the media with a comment- your silence is deafening! I have tried to find out what the exisiting standards or levels are to meet the requirement and what changes have been to make these benefits more accessible. Where is this information found? Will you publish this on your site. Also I did some research on the lump sum amounts ect from the UK. I was surprised to see the max amount was in excess of 450K! Meanwhile our amount is 278K, which has always seemed low, even when compared to civilian amounts. It is clear the government will not budge on the lump sum policy, if this is the case what is being done to increase the award? Lastly, I understand the most recent changes address the economic loss aspect of losing one's career. Will you be addressing the 75% amounts from either SISIP or VAC? All Police and Fire Services pay 100% of current salary if the individual is injured while on duty and cannot work. Why are our benefits capped at 75% while Workmans Comp or other civic services get 85% to 100%? The previous Ombudsman spoke out to inform the public on the system and VAC as a whole. There was momentum but now it seems the issues are being buried. YOU are OUR voice and we have clearly articulated OUR concerns. Please start to be more vocal and active- it is concerning me greatly! Don't be a government lapdog- represent us and speak out!

November 19, 2010 12:49 PM

Kevin Vallieres said:

A question that is presently on the minds of many veterans, is when the new measures Mr. Blackburn has announced, will be acted on? Mr. Blackburn addressed the house of commons yesterday, November 15th, 2:35 p.m. "Mr. Speaker, we have announced changes to the earnings loss benefit so that a modern vet coming back from Afghanistan, for example, who participates in a rehabilitation program or who is seriously injured, will receive at least $40,000 per year. We have also announced a permanent monthly allowance that is similar to the former pension but that complements all of our measures. They can receive between $509 and $536 per month, plus $1,000 for those who cannot return to work. All of this will be happening very soon." Can your office, Mr. Parent, clarify what Mr. Blackburn means, in fact, by -soon? And will any of it be retroactive? Mr. Blackburn repeatedly circumvents questions in the house, of whether changes to the benefits will be retroactive.

November 17, 2010 12:23 PM

Michael Langdon said:

Dear Mr Parent I have read many comments in various publications since the announcement that you would be appointed as the VA Ombudsman. As such I am surprised that I see no comments here. Well, first of all let me congratulate you on your appointment. You should feel honoured to be chosen to be the voice of such a distinguished group as our brave Veterans. I too am a Veteran - an injured Veteran. As an injured Veteran it deeply troubles me that you have begun your tenure with a statement that indicates you will not be a strong voice for us. You indicate your feelings are that you can "accomplish more with negotiation than with being vocal". I am sure that the thousands of Veterans who have been fighting the VA for a just resolution to their grievances would disagree. If you intent to act as a passive intermediary between the Canadian Government and Injured Veterans, please step down now, and let someone more in tune with issues do the job. Regardless of who appointed you, your mission should be to represent the Veterans who risked life and limb in service to this country. That will often mean your idealism of a negotiated truce will quickly break down. You will have to make a choice - watch injustice prevail for the sake of holding onto your job - or do right by those who you where supposedly employed to represent. I have no doubt that Steven Harper would kick you to curb as quickly as he did your predecessor. It is then that your metal will be tested, and you will have the opportunity to prove to Veterans across Canada that you were the right choice for the job after all. Sincerely Mike Langdon

November 16, 2010 8:14 AM

Paul Howe said:

To the Ombudsman Guy: I am a retired Engineer and fortunately have not needed any services from VA. I have followed the medical issues raised in the past few years, in fact starting around the time I left the military in 1994. I have one suggestion I think worth looking at that might help the modern Veteran. Can the Legion organizatin provide any link between veterans and either your office or VA? There is a Legion in every community in Canada so if there were a homeless veteran, for example, there should be a friendly person in a Legion. I appreciate the medical issues are beyond the Legions ability to handle but it could be a starting point for someone afraid of the bureaucracy. I also appreciate they have been used to dealing with the older vets. But maybe there is a new role here. There are other things that could spring from this but it is tossed out as an idea first. Good luck in your new role. You handled the CBC radio interview beautifully.

November 15, 2010 8:22 PM

Old Silverback said:

Welcome to your new post. As with any new "posting" there is an opportunity for improvement no matter how large the shoes are to fill, and Pat Strogran's are large. I would like to have you provide an idea of your thoughts on the main areas which have been presented to the government. What ideas or improvements do you have? What is your position on the NVA? As one of your clients I look forward to you providing this and your strategy in dealing with VAC. I know ROme was not built in a day but it was destroyed in a day. We are looking for some concrete action early! When in doubt- Advance.

November 15, 2010 10:23 AM

Ron said:

Welcome to the job Guy! As you said it's not about you or your predecessor it is about VETERANS. Veterans are starting to speak out for the first time ever! Do not wait us out to become silent and fearful of the bureaucrats. Open your agenda to listen, learn but most of all use. When we speak as a group VAC, government and those senior bureaucrats have no choice but to listen. So help us by being our voice behind those closed doors where meetings take place. Plans are developed and improvements are discussed. You are our Veterans Ombudsman so it is up to you to make sure you speak for us behind those closed doors.

November 14, 2010 12:22 AM

bob said:

I sincerely wish you success in providing for Veterans effective and timely intervention in dealing with the red tape, delays, and unfair decisions delivered to Veterans by DVA. I have many years of dealing with DVA as my spouse is a deceased Veteran. I am a still serving member with one year to CRA and have submitted several claims several months past so I hopeful that I will not need your services. I like you have served a number of years in a SAR squadron. Chief, Best of Luck.

November 13, 2010 8:14 PM

Murph said:

You let us down or sell us out.....

November 13, 2010 12:25 PM

Tracey A. said:

You handled the questions trying to get you to compare yourself to Pat Strogan beautifully. The key here is Ombudsmanship and commitment to your constituents. They (and all Canadians) are lucky to have you in this role. best of luck to you Guy!

November 13, 2010 11:21 AM