Author Topic: Ombudsman to probe ‘failing’ military support for injured war vets  (Read 4153 times)

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Sylvain Chartrand CD ResF

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Ombudsman to probe ‘failing’ military support for injured war vets

By Chris Cobb, OTTAWA CITIZEN August 26, 2013 8:02 PM

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Ombudsman+probe+failing+military+support+injured+vets/8835654/story.html

OTTAWA — Canada’s military ombudsman has launched a probe into the national network of support units created almost five years ago to help mentally and physically injured troops.

The probe comes less than a month after the Ottawa Citizen reported that the network of 24 support platoons have deteriorated due to overcrowding, chronic staff shortages, staff burnout and the filling of key positions with unqualified personnel, many of whom are on the eve of retirement.

Ombudsman Pierre Daigle decided to launch a review following the Citizen’s coverage and a specific complaint sent to his office, spokesman Jamie Robertson told the Citizen Monday.

Investigators plan to contact all the units and if they find a pattern of systemic failure, could launch a full-fledged investigation, said Robertson.

“We will be trying to find from the people who work there what is happening on the ground,” said Robertson. “We want to get good information from all levels.”

Investigators typically interview less senior staff away from their units and keep their identities secret, he added.

The support units operate under the umbrella of regional Joint Personnel Support Centres and are intended to help the ill and injured troops — mostly Afghan war veterans — either reintegrate into the armed forces or be prepared for civilian life, which is most often the case.

A key requirement introduced in 2006 is that all troops, irrespective of their military job, meet the “Universality of Service” standard, which in effect means being fit enough to fight.

The Opposition NDP have said that the “Universality of Service” introduced by the Conservative government is unfairly restricting many war veterans from resuming their military careers and leaving the service with a pension.

While posted into a support unit, troops will either work on base, learn trades with local businesses or take college courses. Most receive some form of mental or physical therapy and all are supposed to report regularly to their supervisors, who in turn are required to produce regular reports on the ill and injured under their supervision.

Former senior non-commissioned officer Barry Westholm, who resigned to protest the current state of the JPSU system after more than four years overseeing the unit’s vast Eastern Ontario region, told the Citizen that his constant efforts to get extra resources and fundamental changes were all rebuffed by DND senior brass.

“I couldn’t collect a paycheque to be part of that anymore,” he said. “We asked them to go to war and they went. They got beat up over there and now they want to get better. But we’ve set a trap for them. We’re saying, ‘Come on, it’s here. But it’s not.”

Westholm and numerous others confirm that the some units are failing so badly that ill and injured soldiers are left to their own devices while overworked staff attempt to keep up with their work.

There have been at least two recent cases of support unit staff burning out and becoming clients of the system.

DND insists that the staffing levels at the support units are “adequate” and that the welfare of ill and injured troops is a priority.

According to DND, JPSU is currently “offering direct assistance’ to about 5,500 ill and injured Forces members and 533 families of soldiers killed while on duty.

Ombudsman spokesman Robertson says the JPSU review should be complete by early fall.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Sylvain Chartrand CD ResF

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Ombudsman to probe ‘failing’ military support for injured war vets
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2013, 10:58:59 PM »
LOOKING FOR COMMENTS ON JPSU

If you are a member of the Defence community and you feel you have been treated unfairly, or would like information about how to resolve a problem, the Ombudsman's Office is here to help.

The Office of the Ombudsman serves as an office of last resort. Members of the Defence community must first use existing internal review mechanisms (e.g., the Canadian Forces grievance process, the public service grievance and complaints process, etc.) before the office can initiate a review or begin an investigation.

http://www.ombudsman.forces.gc.ca/sc-sp/index-eng.asp

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Medically released vets being denied benefits in 'unfair' process: ombudsman
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 02:57:05 PM »
Medically released vets being denied benefits in 'unfair' process: ombudsman

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/medically-released-vets-being-denied-benefits-in-unfair-process-ombudsman-1.1672104#ixzz2sU3mORx9



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.

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/medically-released-vets-being-denied-benefits-in-unfair-process-ombudsman-1.1672104#ixzz2sU45axkn