In 2011, I will continue to push the momentum forward on Veterans’ issues by shining spotlights on unfair practices and making realistic recommendations for change.
Canadian interest is now engaged with Veterans’ issues and many proud, previously silent Veterans are coming forward and publically expressing their concerns. As a result, some government support for their fair treatment is happening but, as I have said before, it is only a beginning. We still have far to go.
This year will be a busy one for the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman with much activity. To focus energies, I have chosen as our theme One Veteran to guide both me and the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman in coming months. This will reinforce the idea that since sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen, as well as members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, do not question where and when they must serve, for Veterans Affairs Canada to determine that the level of programs and services provided will be based on the type of service rendered is an injustice of the first order. I will also be working closely with Veterans’ advocacy groups to encourage them to consolidate their efforts to make the One Veteran principle a VAC reality with the focus on service in general, rather than “where” and when” that service occurred. Importantly, application of the One Veteran principle would simplify processes, resulting in better service to Veterans and lower costs.
In addition, in the next few months, based on the September 2009 report of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman entitled Serve with Honour Depart with Dignity, I intend to pursue the recommendations already made to the Minister of Veterans Affairs regarding funeral burial expenses. This has been on the Minister’s agenda too long and needs to be resolved now. As well, we will be putting forth recommendations on identified unfairness issues concerning the Veterans Independence Program.
Also, among other areas of focus, we will submit results to Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board based on the evidence collected during our systemic review of the adjudication process, and we will be taking a close look at World War Two and Korean War Veterans to ensure that their needs are being met fairly and expeditiously. As well, we will tackle the issue of why Canadian Forces’ Veterans have limited access to Long Term Care benefits, and VAC’s current strategy to reduce Long Term Care beds. In the longer term, we will be identifying and prioritizing strategic and systemic issues of concern to be addressed in coming years.
In the near future, we will be visiting Veterans Affairs Canada’s regional and district offices and will be inviting some of their staff to accompany us to Community Town Halls to meet Veterans and their families. In both instances, the focus will be to educate and inform all concerned about the mandate of the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman and how best we can assist Veterans and their families with their issues and, at the same time, help move Veterans Affairs Canada forward to deliver fairer treatment to all Veterans. All of us have a role to play and working together we can be effective in making substantive changes that will rebuild the confidence and trust between Veterans and their families, and the government.
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I'd like to invite you to take a look at Like' it for TIME (LIFT). LIFT is a grarssoots effort to get TIME Magazine to consider the military family as its 2011 Person of the Year.Rudy Giuliani was chosen for Person of the Year following the September 11 attacks because he “embodied what was really most important, what we learned about ourselves, which was that we could recover,” a TIME editor explained.The military family embodies what is most important, what we learned about ourselves, after a decade of war and multiple deployments: undeniable resilience and dogged support through year after year of painful, and sometimes permanent, family separations.With the kind of attention this campaign is trying to generate, the military family will become a topic of conversation among the general public, people will take a greater interest in their experience, that interest will lead to a desire for more education, and that education will lead to awareness and finally empathy. Empathy is needed if there's ever to be change.
August 31, 2012 10:17 PM
Michel D said:
If you think you are alone, you are mistaking. I was injured in Egypt in 1975. I also was a reservist from HMCS Donnacona. And we RESERVIST are the second class military.
April 1, 2011 10:41 AM
Dear Sir; Recently the Hounerable Minister of Veteran Affairs announced the following; What Bill C-55 does: Improved monthly benefits By amending regulations for the Earnings Loss benefit, the government will establish a minimum pre-tax income of $40,000 a year for Veterans in rehabilitation or no longer able to be gainfully employed. The legislation also expands eligibility for monthly allowances (worth up to $1,631 per month, for life) for seriously injured Veterans. The Bill introduces an additional $1,000 monthly supplement to help our most seriously injured or ill Veterans who are unable to return to suitable gainful employment. My question is very simple. Does this include myself. I am a veteran Reserve Member on a disability pension for 43 years. As a reserve member I have always been treated as a second class citizen by DVA. For some odd but strange reason DVA treats Reserve Members very poorley when compared to Regular Forces Members. If this doesnt apply to me does it mean my blood is not as good as a Regular Force Member? Does it mean my Disability is less than a Regular Force Member. I am looking forward to your answer. Maybe I will be surprised and find out that any Canadian Vet will now be treated equal to all other Military Vets with Disability. By the way do you know if the Ombudsmen's office knows that there are Reserve Vets with Disabilities? Thank you for your help in this matter.
March 21, 2011 10:28 AM
With all the sacrifices that our soldiers make, and then to have to endure such hardship when asking for fair treatment after being injured, is so incredilbly unfair. How can a person who immigrates here from another country, has a fulltime job, get full health benefits from our government? I am talking great coverage and yet they are not even a citizen of our country, paid any taxes, or contributed to our society. Then our war veterans get treated like crap? Can someone please answer that for me.
March 10, 2011 11:01 AM
Guy, Recently while having my hearing aids checked at our local registered audiologist I was told I should have them insured in my Home and Auto Policy. I now have word that they will be insured for the premium of $500+ per year. Is it necessary to insure them or are they replaced if lost/stolen? Meantime, thanks Vets' Affairs for giving a guy back a percentage of hearing.
February 26, 2011 3:35 AM
Well here we go again...another Ombudsam with good intentions....Remember the old saying ..The Road To Hell is Paved With Good intentions....All any Vet has to do is ask one question...Why was the previous Vet Ombudsman removed? That question alone indicates what the Government's intentions are for Vets. My belief is that the Government should always work to improve the Vets life at the bottom of the pile. Why did individual members have to start a program for the homeless Vets. Where was the Government .... What about the Reserve Vets who have been injured? Government has made it very clear they just dont count as much as the regular forces. Just look at the time and effort the Government has put into helping the Reserves gain equality. Shame on them. I have been a disabled Reserve Member for 42 years. The Reserve members injured on active duty do not have the same rights and coverage as the Regular Forces. I thin the Ombudsman should start by making sure all injured Vets should be treated equal and with the respect they deserve... If we dont have equality for all Vets both Regular and Reserve then the system is not worth the paper it is written on...
February 23, 2011 10:30 AM
I have read with vigor your comments about One Veteran. Are you being realistic? Do you think Veterans Affairs Could pass either the very basic Provincal or Federal rules with respect to Discrimination and the very basic Human Rights of all members including Regular Forces and Reserves and others. The only way the One Veteran theme might stand a chance and see the light of day, is all members with disabilities need to be treated with equality and respect and Diginity. It seems that Veterans Affairs is very clear that Disabled Regular Forces are worth more than Disabled Reserves members. That the blood sweat and Teers of Reserve Members are to tollerated but under no circumstances are they to treated as equals to the disabled regular force members. Again any attempt to make a One Veteran program must first start by treating all disabled members as equals with different degrees of disability. Please no more Tiers ....instead of saying Regular Forces and Reserves and RCMP why dont we refer to One Veteran as any disabled member injured while serving their country. Please no more Tier System and no more devaluation of groups of members injured while serving.
February 23, 2011 10:24 AM
Old Silverback said:
Currently Bill C-55 is being introduced into the House for passage. I reviewed closely the proposed changes to the NVA. Outside of the 40K income guarantee, the rest is window dressing. The current system does not recognize those veterans who are injuried and have a disabilty rating between 60-80%. Some maybe able to work part time but some not at all. The current dual system of ELB and SISIP LTD needs to be revised so the veteran only deals with one provider. If the injury was 5/5 due to military service then VAC's ELB program should be the payor for the economic effect of a career ending injury. There should be no confusion over which program one falls under (2 years with SISIP then transition to VAC) and the requirements, definations and medical terminology should be the SAME between organizations. Currently there are many differences between SISIP LTD and VAC's ELB. Lastly, the amounts for those injured WHILE ON DUTY should be increased from 75% to 100% of pre release salary- at least until they would reach CRA- to reflect the lost earning potential as a result of military service. This would be a meaningful change to Bill C-55!
February 13, 2011 11:39 AM
Thank you, no, Thank you, Mr. Parent, for your support of the reality veterans have, dealing with vac. Veterans affairs was charged with the responsibility of providing a seamless process for Veterans to receive the help and assistance needed, following their service, should they require it in peace time or following the aftermath of war. I could go on about the failing of vac to provide for the will of the Govt and people of Canada in provision of the Pensions Act and the NVC. What is important now, is a realization that vac, the mindset of its employees, the perspective of the dept. as a whole, falls way to short of both Acts. And that begs the question of who's at fault in this. The fact is we all are. Every Veteran, every vac employee, every citizen of Canada, every govt, every Canadian who has done nothing over the years that vac thought it was doing the right thing by denying pension application after pension application for the last 3-4 generations. Yes, in my estimation there are hundreds of thousands of veterans who have applied and been denied the service and benefits entitled to them. The Star quoted you as saying...."But it's harder to get solid information on how many veterans are suffering without being properly treated from combat stress injuries, Parent said.
"One of the major concerns highlighted by the ombudsman - the lack of a system in place to track former soldiers.
“If you know where people are you can find out how they are doing,” said Parent. “We put the onus on the individual, whereas the onus should be on the department.” The fact is, Mr. Parent, that vac doesn't deliver the benefit of doubt, mandated by legislation and the social conscience of the people of Canada and they haven't done so for many, many, Veterans over the years. The reason so many veterans are homeless, is because veterans are citizens who choose to serve their country because it was the right thing to do. We did what we believed, pulled our weight, and we did it because we were proud and strong, young and willing. That was my intention and even when our bodies fail us, we don't complain; sometimes out of ignorance and pride, but that is the stuff soldiers are made of. We press ourselves and one another beyond measure because there is a cause! But at some point in time, there is a price to pay for all of us. I payed that price at 39 years of age, and had the back of an 80 year old man. At 40 I could no longer make love to my wife, in the early morning when I was accustomed to waking and going for a run and a quick swim in my pool; when my heart began to beat itself back into consciousness, the pain upon pain would strike me hard, knowing I didn't have legs that responded to the intention I'd lived with my entire life. And why? Why? Because I served, because I pushed myself and did my job. No, I'm not a recent veteran and no, I never saw combat. I was a posted to the SSF at Petawawa in the early 80's as a reconnaissance soldier, and as such, I've since been subject to the bias of vac as some kind of opportunist because somehow I've only recently applied to vac. The fact of the matter is that I was never told, while in service, that we could apply to veterans affairs should there have been a complication because of the physicality of our job. Yet that was one of the reasons given to deny me benefits. Moreover, why would I have applied to Vac when I was released from service? No, I knew I couldn't work a job requiring physicality but I was capable of finding white collar jobs, even though I'd sometimes bend down to pick up a pencil from the floor and compress a nerve stem in my back that would cause me difficulty. I was 20, I still thought like a soldier and therefor invincible. Young soldiers do that! And young soldiers, even though released, do that. VETERANS AREN"T OPPORTUNISTS! sigh* Yet vac treats us all as such. You have your work cut out for you, Mr. Parent. You, yes you, the consciousness reading these words right now, have asked countless soldiers to do their job and we did. And now that some of us are broken, now that many of us have fallen through the cracks, we're hoping, asking, and many of us are silently wanting the price we paid to be acknowledged, all we want is a chance to live out the remainder of our lives in dignity, without having to convince people over and over again, that we're asking for help because we legitimately need it now. No, I never saw combat, but in the final year of my service I was not permitted leave, I was a rifleman, tasked to an immediate reaction unit, ready to be deployed to the province of Quebec because of political unrest. Yes, even at that time my back was finished, though that reality has been denied by vac, but my heart was broken, knowing that my job was to shoot a Canadian citizen at the request of the Officer in command. It took me 10 years after my release to get over the sleeplessness and nervous ticks that affected me. Maybe it would be easy for some, I counted myself a hardened soldier at that time but could I shoot my neighbor? Could you? At more than one point during that term, we were closer than many would think. I released later that fall mostly because of my back and knowing I couldn't do it anymore but I also couldn't reconcile the things I was asked to do. But all of that would fall outside the view of vac, not only the psychological implications, but even the physical implications of being a paraplegic shortly after my 40th birthday. All of it has fallen outside the gaze of adjudicators. Even if vac finds those soldiers who have long disappeared from DND and VAC's gaze, we'll all be subject to a denial of the benefit of doubt, we'll be subject to the bias of Vac personnel, and our imputed salary will be so low that it will hardly be worth the fight. I sincerely wish I could take hope by your words, I sincerely appreciate the mention and your convictions if they are sincere, but I sincerely have little hope that change is anywhere near at hand. It does get harder and harder to tell anyone what happened to us, when the help we're asking for isn't imminent and alternatively, we're left feeling as though were merely opportunists.
February 8, 2011 4:15 AM
Ken Young said:
Dear Guy, I was the face and voice of Agent Orange and White, concerning the DND’s Gagetown Defoliation Program from 1956 through 1984, for Pat Stogran. I was with him on August 17 in Ottawa for his Press release and gave a short talk on the Chemicals used at Base Gagetown and the inadequate Government excuses and responses to the issue. I am afraid that I do not know you as well as I did Pat, but would like to change this mistake. Some of your staff have told me that you are working hard and making some progress in a somewhat quieter way then did Pat and I would like to work with you if for no other reason then explain your thinking and method of operations to the other Veterans who now feel disenfranchised from your office. Thank you for your time and consideration.
January 24, 2011 12:10 PM
Many thanks for deciding to take the "One Veteran" principle as the guiding focus for 2011. As a veteran of the CF Reserves, the differences in treatment eligibility between RegF and ResF veterans is startling, and I would suggest is also a breach of the Charter of Rights & Freedoms.
One key difference is the ELB amounts determined by VAC. As a ResF veteran, regardless of my time in service or my rank & IPC prior to medical release, VAC has arbitrarily determined that the pre-release salary for ResF veterans is $2000/month, which is then reduced to $1500/month (75%) prior to further deductions of any VAC monthly pension and a 20% tax deduction.
In the end, in my personal case, this has resulted in an ELB of ~$980/month, where my pre-release pay after deductions (and while on Reserve Disability Compensation) was ~$2400/month. Notably, $980/month is less than what I would receive if I went on Ontario Disability or CPP Disability (but which I am apparently ineligible for as I am supposed to use SISIP and VAC first).