Author Topic: Basil McAllister Daily Gleaner News Paper  (Read 2707 times)

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tbeaver

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Basil McAllister Daily Gleaner News Paper
« on: July 05, 2013, 08:03:41 PM »
Main story image
Veteran Basil McAllister, 82, held a news conference at the gates of CFB Gagetown recently to talk about the challenge he has had with the Canadian government over the spraying of Agent Orange and other chemicals at CFB Gagetown during his career. Photo: Stephen MacGillivray/The Daily Gleaner

Military

Veterans board ordered to review case



By MICHAEL STAPLES

staples.michael@dailygleaner.com
05 Jul 2013 07:17AM.
A recent federal court decision ordering the Veterans Review and Appeal Board to re-examine the disability pension claim of an 82-year-old Burton man is proof the battle involving Agent Orange is far from over, says an advocate.

Thomas Beaver of the New Brunswick chapter of Canadians Veterans Advocacy said the fact Basil McAllister’s case is being looked at again is an indication times are changing.

“It’s a hard battle but one well worth it,” said Beaver, whose group has 25 cases before the court, ranging from injuries suffered overseas to Agent Orange exposure. “It also shows that the Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t always have the last say.”

Standing up in court and demanding justice be served opened a lot of eyes, Beaver said.

McAllister, a veteran who served at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, claims he was exposed to the deadly herbicide during the 1960s. He argued his case before the federal court in April.

In 1966-67, defoliants, including Agent Orange, Agent Purple and Agent White, were tested at CFB Gagetown. The test sites were located in a 33-hectare forest containing both deciduous and conifer trees.

The base and the U.S. Department of the Army conducted the tests to determine how best to remove vegetation in training areas.

During his hearing, the former sergeant told Justice Cecily Strickland he has skin and prostate cancer, which has now gone into his bones. He also has Type 2 diabetes, which requires four needles per day.

McAllister said the board found no evidence of exposure to chemicals.

Strickland ruled that the Veterans Review and Appeal Board’s past decision denying McAllister a pension wasn’t valid and ordered that a new board be formed and his case, including new evidence, be examined.

In 2007, the federal Tory government announced an Agent Orange compensation package for veterans and civilians affected by the 1960s spraying. During the program, more than 5,000 applications were approved, and payments were issued totalling more than $100 million.

While McAllister received the $20,000 ex gratia payment from the federal government for damages connected to the spraying, 10 comrades with him during the spraying were also awarded a pension, he said.

“The government paid monies to hush the people after the $20,000 payment per individual,” Beaver said. “The subject dropped off the itinerary, not to be heard from again until one 82-year-old veteran (McAllister) said enough is enough and fought on. Our American friends are now starting to question their government on Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown while they were there.”

Carol Brown Parker, co-president of the Agent Orange Association of Canada Inc., said McAllister’s courage and determination paves the way forward for other veterans who have been denied disability pensions by Veterans Affairs because of exposure to Agent Orange, Purple, White and many other toxic chemicals from 1956-84.

Brown Parker said every veteran should assess the results they’ve been awarded or denied by Veterans Affairs. After exhausting all options, they then need to determine if they have a way forward through the justice system, such as what happened in McAllister case, she said.

“Mr. McAllister’s legal challenge to the Veterans Affairs’ decision, in his case, is huge — by showing to the public how monetary awards to veterans can be drastically different, for very similar circumstances,” she said.

Brown Parker said it’s important to keep in mind that the one-time ex gratia payment of $20,000 was small in terms of medicine required and other health-related issues that must be brought to the public’s attention, such as is the situation with McAllister.

“Basil is a four-needle-a-day diabetic, which is costly, including operations for cancers, chemo and so on. So a small, one-time payment (ex gratia) did not do the trick. What we need is medical coverage and testing that covers the total costs for all victims from 1956-84. Didn’t these veterans/civilians count that were put in harm’s way without full disclosure from the government at that time?”

Agent Orange contamination of humans across Canada is a national issue, Brown Parker said.

“Basil McAllister has shown that, because we live in a democracy, a free country and our soldiers have fought on our behalf for this freedom, we do have options in our fight for our individual rights.”

It’s unclear exactly when the Veterans Review and Appeal Board will take another look at McAllister’s case.

Last week, Danielle Gauthier, who speaks for the appeal board, said efforts will be made to do it within in a three-month time frame.

McAllister said Thursday if he’s successful in his new challenge before the board, he’s confident more people will come forward.