Hunger Strike in Charlottetown

Ottawa - June 9, 2011

Many of you have expressed concern that the Ombudsman’s Office has been silent about Mr. Fabien Melanson’s hunger strike in Charlottetown. Please do not interpret our silence to mean that we are not fully engaged.

My staff has reviewed the case and I am maintaining ongoing contact with high level officials of Veterans Affairs Canada regarding Mr. Melanson’s allegations and the Department’s interventions. 

It is important for everyone to understand that, in accordance with the Privacy Act, neither my office nor the Department can provide clarification about a particular case. Only Mr. Melanson is in a position to present the facts, as they happened, from a balanced perspective. 

Although I respect a Veteran’s right to seek redress, to do so at the expense of one’s mental and physical health can only hurt rather than assist in finding an acceptable long-term solution. 

A healthy mind and a healthy body are essential when standing up against perceived unfairness in the bureaucracy. I urge the Veterans who are true friends to encourage Mr. Melanson to pursue his objective in a manner that does not jeopardize his health and safety.

Guy Parent

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nancy said:

In new-brunswick,we have to starve,go on tv with tears,to be heard,and not draw attention.I try to get help in campbelton many years ago,and the psychologue,she told bad words to my husband,i made a plaint and the vac said that i invented a story to have money.I find that so sad,it make me sick to my stomach,,im ready for a lie detector test with the psychologue in campbelton,,not sure that she will say yes,,cause she lies.I don't have proper treatment,but what can i do,,vac treatment or help in new-brunswick,is take a pills and shut up,,,,,,

July 5, 2011 4:11 AM

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman

Please call the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman at 1-877-330-4343 (toll free number) to discuss your case.

July 8, 2011 11:40 AM

Scott said:

Every once in awhile I have to agree with the Ombudsman's office and I take the position that they did handle themselves very professional in the instance of the soldier from P.E.I. and his choice to put his health at risk to draw attention to his case. My concerns with this form of protest is not during the action but the aftermath of this soldiers actions. As a social worker I have worked with similar cases and they are not as simple as one might think. When a soldier as in this case makes his point and starts to take care of himself, there is always a Post Lime-light Crash. In some cases this leads to death and in some cases it leads to hospitalization. Rarely do I ever see it lead to a happy and peaceful solution. Our concern should be "Who is there to pick up the pieces when this soldier crashes". VAC has a $750.00 max payment for such things which might get someone a half dozen sessions with a Registered Helper. It should also be said that a person at his or her wits end with VAC and just can't get appropriate resolution should have the right to emergency resolution through a three member panel made up of VAC-OMB-(Elected Member of a Veterans Advocacy Group). AS the OMB office has said they watch these cases and I believe they do. I also believe that the OMB should be watching some of the less then creditable Advocacy Groups that may use a soldiers hunger strike for their own advancement. We must remember that this soldier made a choice to put his health at risk as he felt he had no other recourse. Therefore our solution is to provide an Emergency Recourse for soldiers in this situation. Murray Scott 43 years a disabled Vet

June 21, 2011 7:37 PM

Scott said:

Generally comments should be placed on the page where they are met to be read. Lately my comments are hidden away where they can not be seen. Obviously the Ombudsman office appears to be getting some feedback from Vets about what the Hec is going on in the Ombudsman office lately. I think the problem is that we were use to having updated reports from the previous Ombudsome and now all we get is feedback on the same old speech from the Ombudsman but nothing new.... The one question that the Ombudsman office refuses to answer is > why in Veterans Name isn't the Ombudsman office protesting the appointment of the New Minister? There was a time when a reputable Government that cared and was generally concerned about it's Vets would put forward a Minister with Military experience. The new Minister of VAC has none or very very little experience with the Military and it's operations. What a slap in the face to Vets in Canada and elsewhere. It seems like we now have to take the time to train the new Minister who was thrown at us just to fill a spot. I read with earnest the blogs of several Vets about the troubled Vet in PEI and their concern for his safety and his health. I like many others realize that the Ombudsman walks a very thin line with what they can say and comment on. However; it would have taken a very few comments by the Ombudsman to reassure Vets that they were on top of the situation. Again there is a pattern here of not keeping the Veteran population up-to-date. It would seem that we have gone from one Ombudsman keeping us updated and another Ombudsman not keeping us updated in the fashion we have been use to. With respect to the new Regs that have been law since March. Yes I agree that they have to be published and a thirty day waiting period etc.However; once again it has been three months with little or nothing coming out of the Ombudsman's office? Again it seems like there has been little or nothing put forward for comment. With everything that is going on you would think that there would be a daily comment from the Ombudsman along with perhaps how we the Vets can prepare ourselves for the many changes coming this fall. During the last three months all we have heard about is the same old speech just to different people and groups. It is no wonder that there are so many complaints wondering what is going on. I really do not care about what the front office has done ....what I do care about is how we can prepare for the future....what should we be doing if we think we are included in the new Regs. How we can get our docs ready for whatever applications that we feel might apply to us or not. All the complaints that I and many other Vets have expressed and heard is saying one thing ...please keep in touch and give us something of substance. If you say there is nothing to share with us then there is something really wrong .... Read the comments on your site and stop being defensive...we are all waiting for more substance. Murray Scott A disabled Vet for 43 years

June 16, 2011 10:23 AM

Interested Former Soldier said:

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that there must be multiple layers to this story both from the perspective of VAC and obviously their client Mr. Melanson. Truth be told why now? What are the systemic failures that led him down this path, which is redress for a financial issue dating back to 2004? Begs another question what has his case manager and the interdisciplinary team been doing to assist this injured soldier? Why has his MH health deteriorated now to the point that he is taking this what could be a last desperate stand? What I assume has driven this individual to go public is complex desperation. Perhaps the one thing your office could do is find an appropriate counsellor for this man to talk to? At the very least pay for a physician to assess him daily. Have you advocated for a visit from his Case Manager? Help this man get the help he so desperately needs. PS in the CF we called this taking care of the troops ... have you forgotten?

June 13, 2011 8:44 PM

Rob said:

So you aren't going to post any comments I see. Thank you for your interest in what the veterans community has to say about your office. Pat was right.

June 9, 2011 5:06 PM

Newfie Advocate said:

Had your staff taken Mr. Melanson inside on Monday, he probably would be enjoying a nice steak tonight instead of damaging his organs. For a PTSD sufferer, a healthy mind is not part of the equation. Stop standing up for VAC and the Conservatives, your job is to stand up for veterans and let them explain it to you, not the other way around. As a former CWO, you should have a more proactive stance, there are no Commanding Officers for you to deal with anymore, just red tape and veterans issues.

June 9, 2011 2:50 PM

Graham Godlien said:

And you strike at the very heart of the problem ... people who have to take on VAC dont have healthy bodies and/or minds. Unfortunately, the beareaucrats at VAC take full advantage of this situation and the result is situations such as these. So please do not pass the buck back on the injured veteran, take action.

June 9, 2011 2:47 PM