Author Topic: CVA Situation report - Sacred Obligation - Comprehensive Parliamentary Review -  (Read 12050 times)

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Mike Blais

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CVA Situation report - Sacred Obligation - Comprehensive Parliamentary Review - New Veterans Charter - Bill C-55

Sacred Obligation

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA) uses the term Sacred Obligation when speaking to or describing the Government of Canada's responsibilities to Canada’s Sons and Daughters who have been wounded or injured as a consequence of their service at home and abroad.

I am often asked, what is the definition of the Sacred Obligation?

In the context of military service, "Sacred " is a very special connotation and predicates great level respect for the living, life time sacrifice of the wounded and those who have offered the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of the nation.
 
Legislatively, the Sacred Obligation was first defined by Sir Robert Borden through special provisions in the Pension Act, acknowledged the life time of pain and suffering Canadian disabled veterans experienced after returning from the battles of Passchendaele, Amiens, and Vimy Ridge. The standard of respect has been perpetuated and enhanced by successive Canadian parliament’s who understood the uniqueness, the ultra-dangerous environment and patriotic sacrifice of those who have sworn allegiance to the Canada and the impact this sacrifice has borne upon their families.

When a Canadian Citizen takes the Oath of Allegiance/Affirmation when joining the Canadian Armed Forces, it is implicitly understood that the threshold from the comfort Canadian civilian society has been crossed and they have pledged their lives to defend the principles upon this great nation has been founded. The Oath that the 18 year-old CAF recruit swears to is very similar to those taken by the Prime Minister of Canada, Parliamentarians, Senators and Chief Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada; indeed, this places those that serve this nation in some very prestigious company!

However, there is one caveat and CAF personnel are the only citizens of Canada who are eligible:

Unlimited Liability aka, the Sacred Obligation.

Unlimited Liability/Sacred Obligation is the ultimate demonstration of trust between nation and those they would send to war/peace, a concord underwritten in blood inclusive of ultimate sacrifice, so willingly volunteered in-trust to the People of Canada. Unlimited Liability and the Sacred Obligation extends to the soldiers family; their mother, father, husband, wife, children, all acutely aware of the consequences national service entails, all who share concern for the their loved ones during service and beyond when they have been released to our communities due to wounds or injuries.

The people entrusted with upholding the Sacred Obligation, those who bear the solemn authority to put the soldier in Harms' Way, serve the nation as our parliamentarians. Since World War 1, Canadians have deployed many times into the vortex of violence, tens-of-thousands of valiant men and women sacrificed their lives for the nation and many, many more were wounded or injured. They, as did those who deployed to Afghanistan, served this nation with the implicit recognition of the Sacred Obligation should they be injured or for their dependents if they die in the service of Canada.

The Sacred Obligation has been embraced by successive governments since WW1 until, in 2006, the Harper Government implemented the New Veterans Charter (NVC) and in doing so, abandoned its Sacred Obligation to those who would serve at a time when Canada’s military would, for the first time since the historic battles of Korea, be called to war. 150 valiant Canadian men and women have paid the ultimate sacrifice since 2006, over fifteen hundred have been wounded during Prime Minister Harper’s stewardship of the war.

How does one define the Sacred Obligation to the wounded, to the mothers, fathers, widows and children of the fallen, those who have been awarded the Memorial Cross in recognition of their sacrifice? Just how does the New Veterans Charter discriminate against those who serve today, those who have sacrificed limbs, minds and souls to the nation? How do we measure ones level of sacrifice on a pain and suffering perspective, just how worthy is the traumatic amputation of a leg/s, an arm/s, a mind when the Sacred Obligation, established through decades of parliamentary respect, has been abandoned at a time of war?

The answer is clear, precedence has been set.

Let us compare Major Ortona, who is catastrophically injured in Italy, 1943 and Major Khandahar, who suffered the same, life altering injuries when struck down in battle at the height of Operation Medusa in Southern Afghanistan, 2006.

Both men suffer explosive amputation of their legs, severe internal wounds including the loss of their testicles, significant hearing loss-tinitus, brain system injuries and, as a consequence of their ordeal, severe PTSD and depression.

Major Ortona is medically released and returns to his wife and two young children. He lives for sixty years but requires long tern care at Sunnybrook Veterans hospital during the last fifteen due to his injuries and his wife’s inability to provide home care. The nation recognized the life of suffering Major Ortona endured and fulfilled its Sacred Obligation to him and his family until death and beyond. Special Pain and Suffering provisions within the Pension Act accorded Major Ortona a monthly pension unto0 death. A supplementary pension was also accorded to his wife with the recognition of her sacrifice and the impact of providing care to double amputee with mental issues bears upon her life and future. Small pensions were provided to Major Ortona’s two children and, when they sought higher education, financial assistance was available. When his wife could no longer care for him, Veterans Affairs Canada ensured he had a room at Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital, where he would life out his days in comfort and with the level of dedicated care required. When Major Ortona preceded his wife, his widow was accorded half his VAC pension and eligibility to VIP services. Over the course of his life, Major Ortona would be provided close to two million dollars, tax free, in recognition of the life time of pain and suffering he had endured.

Major Khandahar sustained the same catastrophic injuries. The Sacred Obligation, now abandoned, does not include the life time financial security inherent with the Pension Act monthly provisions, instead, he is awarded a lump sum award of 250 thousand dollars. By the time he retires, moves, buys/modifies a home and the family adjusts to his physical and mental disabilities, there is little left. His wife, who fears for his life –suicide- and must stay home is not, as was Major Ortona’s wife, provided a small pension in recognition of her sacrifice. Nor, when Major Ortona precedes her, will there be any pension to share of VIP services to ease her financial burden during her twilight years.

When Major Ortona required Long Term Care, there was no Sunnybrook Veterans Hospital to care for him, the obligation been long abandoned to veterans who did not serve in WW2 or Korea. Major Ortona’s children receive nothing, there is no supplementary pension to ensure their care is not affected by the financial discord that many disabled affected families confront daily. Assistance for university or college education is non existent,

The disparity in respect between the services provided when the Sacred Obligation was embraced and the standard applied to today’s modern war wounded through the New Veterans Charter can only be described as obscene; to accord one standard of service of a veteran of one war yet not another is a glaring demonstration of the repercussions to Canada's wounded when a government looses its moral compass and abandons the Sacred Obligation to those they have sent to war.
 
The Canadian Veterans Advocacy does not dispute that there are positive qualities within the New Veterans Charter and/or Bill C-55, indeed, the harmonization approach that we have submitted reflects the need of incorporating the positive benefits of both programs into one effective mechanism capable of serving veterans of all eras equally and without discrimination. The disparity of the Lump Sum Award provisions when compared to the Fulfillment of the Sacred Obligation via the Pension Act, while not the singular issue in requirement of redress, must be a priority. The nation’s obligation to Canada’s most seriously wounded veterans, referenced by Veterans Ombudsman Parent’s last report, is not being fulfilled, as such, our duty, our Sacred Obligation, is clear.

We must unite behind the wounded who, having no recourse or support from the traditional veterans organizations, have resorted to the courts to seek justice. What do they seek? They seek the same standard of respect that Major Ortona, myself and thousands of Canadian veterans have been accorded for pain and suffering as a consequence of our service.

They seek only fulfillment of the Sacred Obligation they believed to exist when they were wounded, no more, no less.

No other option is acceptable! Veterans organizations that do not support this position (Equitas), particularly formal stakeholders such as the Royal Canadian Legion  and major organizations represented through the Legion's Veterans Consultation Group have not embraced the Sacred Obligation and are championing meager enhancements to the Lump Sum Award to a comparable level that someone injured on the job in Ontario would receive. This position does not reflect or respect the sacrifice of our Afghanistan War wounded or the very pillars on which the Royal Canadian Legion has been built. The standard of care they have fought so hard, through multiple generations of Legion leadership, to ensure the obligation was met and provided to World War 2 and Korean War veterans, is not being accorded to those who fight today.

One veteran. One standard.

The wounded, abandoned by government and veterans stakeholders alike, have united and with no other alternative, have been forced to seek redress through the courts. Their quest directly addresses the Harper Government’s abeyance of the Sacred Obligation, an obligation this nation stood proudly behind for nearly a century, an obligation negated at the height of the most vicious combat this nation has experienced since the Korean War.
 
Is Major Khandahars’s national sacrifice no less worthy than Major Ortona’s?

Did they not both suffer the same catastrophic wounds, traumatic amputation of the legs, testicles, a lifetime of PTSD and depression with all the ugly, soul and family destroying horrors they bring to the veteran and his/her family?

I would suggest that their sacrifice on behalf of Canada is equal, that national precedence has been established with the blood, courage and great sacrifice of our forefathers.

I would suggest that this is and must be the only standard applied to those who suffer the same consequences of war today.

This is the Sacred Obligation.

A Sacred Obligation the Canadian Veterans Advocacy has been founded to restore.

CTV Interview, OVO Report, We will fight!  http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1014735
CVA Harmonization policy  http://www.canadianveteransadvocacy.com/index.html

Michael L Blais CD
President - Founder Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ontario
905-359-9247  /// hm 905-357-3306


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CVA SIT REP March 3-6 2014
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2014, 03:40:31 PM »
CVA SIT REP March 3-6 2014

Been one outstanding week on the advocacy front. Establi8sged the CVA Command Post at the Econolodge after a long and tiring ride from Niagara and hit the ground running, or motoring in my case via the pygmy pony -my mobility scooter- to meet military wives Paula Ramsay and Jennifer Migneault in front of the east Block at 0945.

Liberal meeting. Very pleased with Joyce Murray for organizing a room for the a meeting close to the Defence Committee and in the same building to facilitate my mobility issues. I am grateful. Special thanks to Kirsty Duncan, who's empathy was sincere and Rick Theis, advisory to Mr Trudeau, for taking the time to listen to these magnificent, courageous women bare their souls in their, no our, collective quest to ensure the military family unit is cared for and the TOOLS THEY NEED to cope and ensure their families quality of life is not destroyed by mental wounds and that care for their loves ones, and themselves if necessary, is provided in a timely manner. It was a very productive meeting. I just wish that we had more time, but the defnce committee, on which Joyce serves, started at 1100.

It would be a very fortuitous meeting; Major General Denis Millar was to testify and their was an opportunity to ensure that he met with the ladies. He was very gracious, understanding and willing to listen and accept the briefing notes that Paula had prepared. On the advocacy level, had a nice chat the new VAC ADM for Services, Michel -acki, brain cramp- and Raymond Lalonde, Director, National Center, OSI clinics across the nation and will be meeting him when we go to Montreal to participate and honour Irish Canadian veterans during the annual St Patrick's Day Parade. More to follow on the parade but I would hope all veterans who support the CVA will join us in comradeship and a special day of fun.

At noon, off to meet the NDP at Peter Stoffer's office. Special thanks to all the VAC committee members who attended and to Sylvain Chicoinne for organizing the national peeress conference for us at 1300 at the Charles Lynch room. on Parliament Hill. Jenny an Paula were simply magnificent, their voices resonated far beyond the walls of the national press center and as hoped for, attained the interest of the national media. Message delivered. BZ.

Jerry Kovacs, CVA Director in Ottawa, arranged a special treat for Question Period and the ladies and their guests enjoyed the show from the Speaker's gallery, a honour indeed to which we are Grateful to Andrew Sheer. Attended VAC Committee to support Medric Cousineau and Barry Yhard, VETS Canada, but had to escort ladies to meet with jack Harris, NDP Defence Critic, who was very impressed with the ladies presentation and complimented them for their courage. I believe the word tremendous was used.

Later in the evening, had a really neat discussion with Peter Kent about his times as a reporter in Vietnam, a couple of conservative MPs from Manitoba who took the time to listen to me, Steven Blaney, former VAC minister and Erin O'Toole, who organized a St Paddys day party at the end of the hall in the Confederations bldg. Retired to peter Stoffer's office for a couple of games of 8 ball and some very stimulating conversation about veterans issues before crashing at 3 am.

Day 2... will have to wait till tomorrow, or later today, as the night has once again flown past and it is 111. I have to get up early, am interview the esteemed lawyer, colonel Michel Drapeau at nine and then heading to home sweet home.
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Vets angry as federal lawyers argue Ottawa has no social obligation to soldiers

Dene Moore / The Canadian Press
July 30, 2013 01:00 AM - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/b-c/vets-angry-as-federal-lawyers-argue-ottawa-has-no-social-obligation-to-soldiers-1.564569#sthash.dr8uRF2I.dpuf


Veteran Michael Blais, President and founder of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, clockwise from left, Veteran Carlos Robert Steiner, NDP Deputy Veterans Affairs Critic Sylvain Chicoine, NDP Veterans Affairs Critic Peter Stoffer and Veteran David Desjardins take part in a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 30, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

At least one veterans group promises to campaign against the Harper Conservatives because of a stand taken by federal lawyers, who argue the country holds no extraordinary social obligation to ex-soldiers.

The lawyers, fighting a class-action lawsuit in British Columbia, asked a judge to dismiss the court action filed by injured Afghan veterans, saying Ottawa owes them nothing more than what they have already received under its controversial New Veterans Charter.

The stand drew an incendiary reaction from veterans advocates, who warned they are losing patience with the Harper government, which has made supporting the troops one of its political battle cries.

Mike Blais, president of Canadian Veterans Advocacy, told a Parliament Hill news conference that since the First World War, the federal government has recognized it has a "sacred obligation" to veterans — and that notion was abandoned with the adoption of the veterans charter by the Conservatives.

"We are asking the government to stand down on this ridiculous position (and) to accept the obligation that successive generations of Parliament have wilfully embraced," said Blais, who pointed out veterans of Afghanistan deserve the same commitment as those who fought in the world wars.

"We're damned determined to ensure (the same) standard of care is provided by this government or we shall work to provide and elect another government that will fulfil its sacred obligation."

The lawsuit filed last fall by six veterans claims that the new charter, which replaces life-time pensions with workers compensation-style lump sum awards for wounds, violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In all cases, the awards are substantially less than what service members would have received under the old Pension Act system, which was initially set up following the First World War.

Veterans advocates, including Blais, see the new veterans charter as a bottom-line exercise.

"We went to war, signed up to serve this nation, nobody told us we would be abandoned," he said.

"Nobody told us they were going to change the game in mid-flights and that our government would turn its back on us, and put the budget ahead of their sacred obligation."

A spokesman for newly appointed veterans minister Julian Fantino said he wasn't able to comment directly on the court case. But Joshua Zanin noted that more than 190,000 veterans and their families received benefits under the revised charter and the "government has taken important steps to modernize and improve services to veterans."

Even so, federal lawyers argued that the veterans lawsuit is "abuse of process" that should be thrown out.

"In support of their claim, the representative plaintiffs assert the existence of a 'social covenant,' a public law duty, and a fiduciary duty on the part of the federal government," Jasvinder S. Basran, the regional director general for the federal Justice Department, said in a court application.

The lawsuit invokes the "honour of the Crown," a concept that has been argued in aboriginal rights claims.

"The defendant submits that none of the claims asserted by the representative plaintiffs constitutes a reasonable claim, that the claims are frivolous or vexatious, and accordingly that they should be struck out in their entirety."

New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer says the legal implication of claiming the government has no special obligation to veterans is far-reaching and he demanded the Conservatives clarify what it means.

He noted that unlike the previous legislation, the new veterans charter — passed unanimously by all parties in 2005 and enacted by the Conservatives in 2006 — contained no reference to social obligation.

Both Stoffer and Blais do not advocate for a complete return to the old pension system, but rather that veterans be given a choice of how the benefit is paid.

Among the soldiers named in the suit is Maj. Mark Douglas Campbell, a 32-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who served in Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

In June 2008, Campbell, of the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was struck by an improvised explosive device and Taliban ambush.

He lost both legs above the knee, one testicle, suffered numerous lacerations and a ruptured eardrum. He has since been diagnosed with depressive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Campbell received a lump-sum payment for pain and suffering of $260,000. He will receive his military pension, with an earnings loss benefit and a permanent impairment allowance but he is entirely unable to work and will suffer a net earnings loss due to his injuries, the lawsuit claims.

Another plaintiff soldier suffered severe injuries to his leg and foot in the blast that killed Canadian journalist Michelle Lang and four soldiers. He was awarded $200,000 in total payments for pain and suffering and post-traumatic stress.

The allegations in the lawsuit have not been proven in court.

The federal government application says policy decisions of the government and legislation passed by Parliament are not subject to review by the courts.

"The basic argument that they're making is that Parliament can do what it wants," said Don Sorochan, the soldiers' lawyer.

He said he receives calls almost daily from soldiers affected by the changes, and thousands ultimately could be involved.

Sorochan, who is handling the case for free, said he doesn't believe the objective of the legislation was to save money at the expense of injured soldiers, but that's what has happened.

"When the legislation was brought in it was believed by the politicians involved — and I've talked to several of them, in all parties — that they were doing a good thing," Sorochan said.

"But anybody that can objectively look at what is happening to these men and women who have served us, can't keep believing that."

© Copyright Times Colonist
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Le fédéral ne se sent pas obligé face aux vétérans
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 07:08:44 AM »
Le fédéral ne se sent pas obligé face aux vétérans

La Presse CanadiennePar La Presse Canadienne | La Presse Canadienne – il y a 11 heures

http://fr-ca.actualites.yahoo.com/le-f%c3%a9d%c3%a9ral-ne-se-sent-pas-oblig%c3%a9-face-005835679.html?fb_action_ids=10151982408460866&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fb_ref=facebook_cb

OTTAWA - Des avocats du gouvernement fédéral affirment qu'Ottawa n'a pas d'obligation spéciale envers ceux qui ont participé   des guerres au nom du Canada, et qu'il est injuste de lier le gouvernement Harper   des promesses faites par un autre premier ministre il y a près d'un siècle.

Cette affirmation est écrite noir sur blanc dans un exposé de la défense élaboré par le ministère de la Justice contre la poursuite en recours collectif intentée par des vétérans d'Afghanistan, qui affirme que la réforme des prestations aux anciens combattants, en 2006, est discriminatoire en vertu de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés.

Les documents judiciaires, déposés en janvier, ont été rendus publics mardi, le jour où le premier ministre Stephen Harper accueillait le dernier groupe de soldats de retour d'Afghanistan, où la mission canadienne est maintenant terminée.

Les conservateurs, qui se sont bâti un capital politique en affichant leur appui aux troupes, ont annoncé une journée de commémoration de la mission canadienne en Afghanistan le 9 mai.

Au même moment, des avocats du gouvernement font valoir que la poursuite en recours collectif, si elle réussit, mettra les anciens combattants invalides devant tous les autres Canadiens en ce qui concerne les compensations et les traitements fournis par le gouvernement fédéral.

La poursuite en recours collectif, déposée en Colombie-Britannique et obtenue par La Presse Canadienne, affirme aussi qu'il existe un «contrat social» entre le pays et ses soldats qui sont appelés   mettre leur vie   risque sans poser de questions.
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Does government have social contract with veterans?
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 12:03:31 PM »
Politics | Mar 18, 2014 | 15:21

Does the new veterans' charter fail to support Canadians who served in war zones? Pat Stogran and MPs Parm Gill and Joyce Murray comment

http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Politics/Power+&+Politics/ID/2442904273/

--------------
Nearly 100 years ago, before the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Prime Minister Robert Borden made a vow to troops that laid the groundwork for decades of government policy, but has never been enshrined in the Constitution.

"You can go into this action feeling assured of this, and as the head of the government I give you this assurance: That you need not fear that the government and the country will fail to show just appreciation of your service to the country and Empire in what you are about to do and what you have already done," Borden said.

"The government and the country will consider it their first duty to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home… that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died."
----------
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Le fédéral estime ne pas avoir d’obligation spéciale envers les vétérans

18 mar. 2014 par La Presse Canadienne

http://www.lactualite.com/actualites/quebec-canada/le-federal-estime-ne-pas-avoir-dobligation-speciale-envers-les-veterans/

OTTAWA – Des avocats du gouvernement fédéral affirment qu’Ottawa n’a pas d’obligation spéciale envers ceux qui ont participé   des guerres au nom du Canada, et qu’il est injuste de lier le gouvernement Harper   des promesses faites par un autre premier ministre il y a près d’un siècle.

Cette affirmation est écrite noir sur blanc dans un exposé de la défense élaboré par le ministère de la Justice contre la poursuite en recours collectif intentée par des vétérans d’Afghanistan, qui affirme que la réforme des prestations aux anciens combattants, en 2006, est discriminatoire en vertu de la Charte canadienne des droits et libertés.

Les documents judiciaires, déposés en janvier, ont été rendus publics mardi, le jour où le premier ministre Stephen Harper accueillait le dernier groupe de soldats de retour d’Afghanistan, où la mission canadienne est maintenant terminée.

Les conservateurs, qui se sont bâti un capital politique en affichant leur appui aux troupes, ont annoncé une journée de commémoration de la mission canadienne en Afghanistan le 9 mai.

Au même moment, des avocats du gouvernement font valoir que la poursuite en recours collectif, si elle réussit, mettra les anciens combattants invalides devant tous les autres Canadiens en ce qui concerne les compensations et les traitements fournis par le gouvernement fédéral.

La poursuite en recours collectif, déposée en Colombie-Britannique et obtenue par La Presse Canadienne, affirme aussi qu’il existe un «contrat social» entre le pays et ses soldats qui sont appelés   mettre leur vie   risque sans poser de questions.
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Federal government says it has no 'social contract' to care for military veterans

Roger Annis
Posted: Mar 19th, 2014

http://www.vancouverobserver.com/news/federal-government-says-it-has-no-social-contract-care-military-veterans


3,000 veterans and supporters in Sydney NS on Nov 9, 2013 protest closing of eight Veterans Affairs offices in Canada, photo from CBC

CBC is reporting the federal government's official response to a lawsuit by Canadian veterans who say the government's miserly benefits to injured veterans from Afghanistan and other wars is a violation of a 'social contract' to protect them dating back to World War One.

Government lawyers have filed an argument in court that the federal government does not have such a social contract with veterans.

The move comes in response to a class-action suit brought by veterans against the New Veterans Charter that was approved by all four parties in the federal Parliament in 2005. Veterans say the Charter provides too little compensation for what soldiers risked. A key issue in dispute is that the new Charter replaced monthly payments to injured and recovering veterans with lump sum payments with a capped maximum.

A Postmedia news report in 2012 explained the following:

    The New Veterans Charter is a relatively new statute which was enacted in 2006 at the height of the bloody Afghan conflict. Introduced by Paul Martin's Liberal government and endorsed by the NDP and Conservatives, it replaced a set of regulations called the Pension Act.

    Supporters say the new regulations provide additional benefits such as re-education and priority hiring in the federal government... But (NDP MP Peter) Stoffer admits that some severely injured veterans lose hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime, as shown in a 2011 Queen's University study.

    The study found that severely injured Afghan veterans post-2006 will receive an average one-third less from Veterans Affairs Canada than those coming under pre-2006 regulations. Study author Alice Aiken says the payments are usually one-time lump sums, rather than monthly cheques that actually work out to a lot more money over the course of a lifetime. [Read the 67-page, 2011 study here.]

Veterans are also up in arms over the recent closure of eight regional service offices of Veterans Affairs Canada. They have staged protests across Canada and called on citizens to vote against the Conservative Party in the 2015 federal election.

The Department of National Defence says 158 Canadian soldiers were killed and 2,047 injured in Afghanistan.

Two more Afghan veterans have committed suicide in recent days, bringing the number of suicides of soldiers to nine in the past several months. The suicide crisis is an acute embarassment to a federal government that champions militarism.

Late last year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper appeared to chide troubled veterans and their families, saying they were not availing themselves of counseling and other services that he says are available. He said it's everyone’s “responsibility to encourage” those who need support to seek help from programs already in place.

“Those supports are available and of course, we will make sure they will continue to be available,” he said.

* * *

Statistics compiled by the Vanier Institute of the Family, as part of the Canadian Military Family Initiative:

    Number of military families in the Canadian Forces: 45,106
    Number of children under 18 with a parent in the military: 55,199
    Percentage of military families who live off-base: 83
    Percentage of military members who are either married or living common-law: 59
    Percentage of military personnel who are divorced or separated: 5
    Percentage who are single: 32
    Percentage of military spouses who work full-time: 46
    Percentage of military spouses who are male: 13
    Percentage of military couples who have children: 75
    Percentage of military families who have one or more children with special needs: 8
    Percentage of military spouses who have experienced at least one deployment of their family: 70
    Percentage who have experienced at least five deployments: 17
    Percentage who have relocated at least once for a military posting: 76


[pdf]http://www.queensu.ca/cidp/publications/claxtonpapers/Claxton13.pdf[/pdf]
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NDP CHALLENGES THE ABSENCE OF SOCIAL CONTRACT BETWEEN VETERANS AND GOC
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2014, 12:01:37 PM »
NDP CHALLENGES THE ABSENCE OF SOCIAL CONTRACT BETWEEN VETERANS AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 20, 2014

NDP CHALLENGES THE ABSENCE OF SOCIAL CONTRACT BETWEEN VETERANS AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT

DARTMOUTH – The Conservatives are wrong to say that the federal government has no social contract or social covenant with veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces, according to NDP Veterans Affairs critic Peter Stoffer (Sackville – Eastern Shore).

“The federal government has a moral, social, legal, and fiduciary responsibility for the Canadian men and women who are asked to serve in harm’s way,” said Stoffer.  “It’s ridiculous that this Conservative government is denying that a social contract exists between veterans and members of the Canadian Forces and the federal government.” 

The Conservatives’ position was unearthed in recently released legal statements for a veterans’ class action lawsuit, involving Equitas Society, which is seeking fair compensation for injured veterans under the New Veterans Charter (NVC).

Stoffer noted that many pieces of veterans’ legislation include a reference to the government’s social contract with veterans, and that the NDP will be pushing to include this reference during the parliamentary review of the NVC.

“This is a century old policy, in which the federal government promises to take care of our wounded veterans and this government is the first one to break that oath. We urge the Conservative government to drop their appeal of the class action lawsuit,” said Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant).
– 30 –

For more information, please contact:
Véronique Breton, Press Secretary, 613-408-1483 or veronique.breton@parl.gc.ca
Office of Peter Stoffer, 902-861-2311 or peter.stoffer.a1@parl.gc.ca

--------------------------

POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE
20 MARS 2014

LE NPD DÉNONCE LE REFUS DU GOUVERNEMENT DE RECONNAÎTRE LE CONTRAT SOCIAL DES ANCIENS COMBATTANTS

DARTMOUTH – Selon le porte-parole du NPD en matière d’affaires des anciens combattants, Peter Stoffer (Sackville-Eastern Shore), les conservateurs ont tort d’affirmer qu’aucun contrat ou pacte social ne lie le gouvernement aux anciens combattants et aux membres des Forces canadiennes.

« Le gouvernement fédéral a une responsabilité morale, sociale, juridique et fiduciaire envers les femmes et les hommes qui risquent leur vie pour leur pays, a déclaré M. Stoffer. C’est absurde que les conservateurs refusent de reconnaître qu’un contrat social lie le gouvernement fédéral aux anciens combattants et aux membres des Forces canadiennes. »

La position du gouvernement fédéral a récemment été dévoilée dans des énoncés juridiques liés à un recours collectif de Equitas Society, qui exige qu’un mécanisme de compensation équitable des anciens combattants blessés soit intégré à la Nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants.

M. Stoffer a souligné que bon nombre de textes législatifs à ce sujet font référence au contrat social qui unit le gouvernement fédéral aux anciens combattants. Lors de l’examen parlementaire à venir, le NPD fera pression pour que cette référence soit incorporée au texte de la Nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants.

« Depuis plus de cent ans, le gouvernement fédéral respecte sa promesse de soigner les anciens combattants et ce gouvernement est le premier à briser cet engagement. Nous pressons le gouvernement d’abandonner sa procédure d’appel contre le recours collectif des anciens combattants », a déclaré le porte-parole adjoint du NPD en matière d’anciens combattants, Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant).

– 30 –

Pour de plus amples renseignements, veuillez communiquer avec :
Véronique Breton, attachée de presse, (613) 408-1483 ou veronique.breton@parl.gc.ca
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Veterans, feds fight over ‘social contract’
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2014, 09:47:08 PM »
Veterans, feds fight over ‘social contract’

Check the video: http://globalnews.ca/video/1221725/veterans-feds-fight-over-social-contract

Thu, Mar 20: Veterans and opposition politicians call on Canadians to take an active role in their cause. The veterans say new changes to the compensation program for wounded and disabled vets violates a social contract between them and the government. Ross Lord reports.
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Militaires et anciens combattants: une dette morale à honorer
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2014, 05:54:48 AM »
Militaires et anciens combattants: une dette morale   honorer

Opinions - 20 mars 2014

Par Martin Forgues
Journaliste indépendant, auteur de L’afghanicide,   paraitre en avril chez VLB éditeur.
Vétéran de la guerre en Afghanistan

http://blogues.journaldemontreal.com/votreopinion/opinions/militaires-et-anciens-combattants-unedette-morale-a-honorer/

L’actuelle vague de suicides qui décime les rangs des Forces armées canadiennes soulève nombre de questions sur le soutien offert aux soldats. Elle doit aussi forcer les autorités militaires et le gouvernement fédéral   se livrer   un examen de conscience aussi urgent que nécessaire.

À chaque fois que les nouvelles annonçaient depuis l’automne dernier que le glas venait de sonner pour un autre soldat découvert sans vie, je me disais qu’il devenait de plus en plus inévitable que le désespoir s’empare d’un de mes ex-frères d’armes, un de ceux avec qui j’ai servi au cours d’une de mes deux missions en Bosnie et en Afghanistan.

Mardi dernier, j’apprenais qu’Alain Lacasse était retrouvé pendu chez lui.

J’ai connu Alain en 2002 alors que nous étions déployés en Bosnie au sein de la même compagnie d’infanterie. Puis, nous nous sommes retrouvés encore dans la même organisation, cette fois au sein de la compagnie d’infanterie chargée de protéger les civils et les militaires de l’Équipe provinciale de reconstruction   Kandahar.

Une nouvelle mission dans des conditions différentes de la dernière. En Bosnie, nous maintenions une paix qui se solidifiait depuis six ans déj  en patrouillant les villes et les villages près de la frontière entre la Bosnie et la Croatie. En 2007, c’était sur le champ de bataille sablonneux du sud de l’Afghanistan que nous livrions une guerre contre des talibans tenaces tout en cherchant   reconstruire un pays en lambeaux suite   plus de trois décennies de guerres successives. Mais si la nature de notre travail avait changé, Alain, lui, était resté le même, véritable boute-en-train qui savait remonter le moral de nos pairs en affichant un air toujours jovial. Lors des quelques fêtes que nous avons pu célébrer sur le Camp Nathan Smith   Kandahar, Alain agissait presque toujours comme maitre de cérémonie avec un humour et une bonne humeur contagieux. Le type de soldat nécessaire au sein de l’organisation, car il demeurait malgré tout un militaire aguerri toujours prêt   réagir, peu importe la situation.

Une perte énorme pour le Royal 22e Régiment.

Briser les tabous, une question de leadership

Tous ces décès, celui d’Alain comme celui de tous les militaires qui se sont suicidés dernièrement, ne doivent pas demeurer en vain. Car si mille et une raisons ont pu pousser ces soldats   mettre fin   leurs jours, le démon du trouble post-traumatique et le stress relié   la vie militaire sont certainement   pointer du doigt dans plusieurs cas.

Devant cette hécatombe, politiciens et haut-gradés doivent prendre leurs responsabilités et, malheureusement, la réaction actuelle est d’une gênante mollesse. Un porte-parole de l’armée a déclaré il y a quelques mois que les ressources sont en place et que les militaires sont individuellement responsables d’y recourir. Au-del  de l’ironie de parler de « responsabilité individuelle » dans une organisation qui mise autant sur l’importance de l’équipe, d’assumer qu’un individu en détresse possède le jugement nécessaire pour se diriger lui-même vers les ressources d’urgence est carrément irresponsable. Une organisation aussi hiérarchisée que l’armée dépend d’un leadership fort, contrairement   l’image que projette telle déclaration. Il est de la responsabilité des commandants de déceler les signes de détresse chez leurs troupes et de les diriger, de force s’il le faut, vers les services appropriés. Il leur revient également de combattre la culture du tabou autour du trouble de stress post-traumatique et d’inciter leurs soldats   s’appuyer mutuellement, comme l’exige le code d’honneur qui régit la vie militaire. Ce « culte de la force » qui pousse certains soldats   considérer comme « faibles » leurs collègues affectés mentalement par le stress ou par le traumatisme du combat doit être aboli. Il doit laisser place   une autre image de la force – celle d’accepter les limites uniques   chacun et   chercher de l’aide sans désigner l’escalier du deuxième étage de l’hôpital de Valcartier « escalier de la honte ».

Cette honte, c’est plutôt, surtout la classe politique qui doit la porter.

Dette d’honneur

Toujours soucieux d’accumuler du capital politique sur le dos des militaires, le gouvernement conservateur se targue d’en être le champion. Il multiplie cérémonies d’accueil des troupes de retour d’Afghanistan et défilés aériens pour souligner la fin de la mission en Libye. Mais quand vient le temps d’honorer la dette morale contractée auprès des soldats partis se battre sous les drapeaux, l’échec est lamentable.

Les Conservateurs ne se sont pas contentés de briser la promesse électorale de 2006 qui visait   réinstaurer la Charte des Anciens combattants que les libéraux ont honteusement modifié pour abolir les pensions   vie au profit d’un montant forfaitaire, une mesure ridicule qui relèvait de l’économie de bout de chandelle. Au début de 2014, deux députés du gouvernement dont le ministre des Anciens combattants lui-même ont dévoilé au grand jour leur ignorance du dossier et leur mépris pour les vétérans qui réclament le maintien des services aux blessés. Cheryl Gallant, députée de la circonscription qui abrite la base de Petawawa, a déclaré sans gêne que les craintes des militaires quant   leur renvoi de l’armée après un diagnostic de trouble de stress post-traumatique sont, comme la maladie elle-même, « dans leur tête ». Julian Fantino, lui, a décidé d’ouvrir les vannes de la condescendance et de l’arrogance caractéristiques de ce gouvernement. Après un retard de près de deux heures   une rencontre avec une association de vétérans, le ministre a déclaré que les plaignants étaient des « pantins des syndicats et de l’opposition » (« opposition and unions stooges »). Le gouvernement Harper renonce ainsi   ses propres valeurs et trahit non seulement les vétérans, mais aussi sa propre philosophie. Les Conservateurs aiment bien agiter les drapeaux et serrer des mains lors du Jour du Souvenir, mais la devise « Nous nous souviendrons » prend ici un tout autre sens.

Comme je l’expliquais plus haut, un pays qui envoie ses troupes au combat contracte une dette morale auprès de ses soldats – plus que ça, une dette d’honneur. Il est temps que ce gouvernement répare les dégâts de l’administration précédente et colle des gestes concrets   ses paroles au lieu de déployer des écrans de fumée sous formes de défilés de toutes sortes.

Pour reprendre la devise des forces spéciales canadiennes, Facta non verba.

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Veteran Overwatch Group: Vote anything but conservatives
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2014, 01:07:09 PM »
Veteran Overwatch Group: Vote anything but conservatives

...just got this from my buddy Ronald Clarke, who is leading the charge for veterans down east and nationwide. You might remember Minister Fantino disrespected Ron and his team when they went to Ottawa to complain about office closures.

Cause... and effect. Now hat Mr Harper has declared his has no obligation to the thousands wounded on his watch... I hope more will be forthcoming.

If the conservative government will abandon those they sent to war, what chance do you have when they turn their slash and burn agenda on you and your family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcJaG3bR8iQ&feature=share
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Canadians have an obligation to support veterans: Poll
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2014, 04:17:04 PM »
Canadians have an obligation to support veterans: Poll

    by  Contributed - Surrey North Delta Leader
    posted Nov 5, 2013 at 10:00 AM— updated Nov 5, 2013 at 11:04 AM


http://www.surreyleader.com/lifestyles/230690741.html



An annual Nanos national survey released today by Commissionaires demonstrates overwhelming public support for veterans as they make the transition from military life to a civilian career.

For the second consecutive year, 94 per cent of those surveyed continue to believe that Canadians have an obligation to ensure our veterans find meaningful employment after they've finished their service in the Canadian Armed Forces.

“Canadians clearly feel strongly that vets deserve our support, during and after their military service,” noted Bill Sutherland, national board chair of the Commissionaires.  “We’ve been hiring vets since 1925, so we know just how highly skilled and talented they are.”

The survey also indicates that 72 per cent of Canadians believe that in the last five years, veterans have faced difficulties making the transition to civilian jobs. In fact, 54 per cent of respondents believe it is more difficult for today’s veterans to find civilian jobs than it was for veterans of the first and second world wars. As well, nearly 70 per cent of respondents believe that the skills of today’s veterans are relevant and transferable.

Respondents in B.C. showed slightly stronger support for vets than in some other regions of the country, with nearly 96 per cent believing Canadians have an obligation to ensure vets find meaningful employment. The national average was 94 per cent. As well, British Columbians believed more strongly than Canadians in general that veterans have had a difficult time finding jobs after leaving the Canadian Armed Forces (78 per cent versus the national average of 72 per cent).

Finally, the national survey revealed that 81 per cent of Canadians think first of veterans of the First and Second World Wars on Remembrance Day, rather than veterans of more recent conflicts.

“Veterans from all walks of life have given of themselves to defend Canada’s interests and promote peace abroad. We owe them a debt of gratitude and the support they need to secure their post-military career,” said Dan Popowich, CEO, Commissionaires British Columbia.

Since 1925, Commissionaires has been providing meaningful employment for veterans as they make the transition from the Canadian Armed Forces to civilian life. With 16 divisions and more than 20,000 men and women employed across the country, Commissionaires is a leading national provider of security services, and one of the largest employers of veterans in Canada.

The Nanos survey was conducted between Aug. 18 and 22 with a sample size of 1,000 Canadians. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
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Another view: A duty of care for vets
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2014, 10:48:54 PM »
Another view: A duty of care for vets

http://www.therecord.com/opinion-story/4432487-another-view-a-duty-of-care-for-vets/

By Editorial

This editorial ran first in the Halifax Chronicle-Herald:

In a surprising governmental about-face late last week, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino asserted what his government's lawyers have been denying: that a social contract exists between the government and those who have served in the Canadian military.

Fantino's words may come as a relief to veterans who have been calling for changes to the New Veteran's Charter, the 2006 legislation that largely replaced lifelong pensions for wounded soldiers with lump-sum payments and allowances.

The changes, say critics, leave injured soldiers with far less compensation than Canadians with comparable workplace-related injuries and leave the most severely disabled vets, particularly those over age 65, at risk of poverty.

Six wounded soldiers are suing Ottawa over the changes, arguing that Ottawa must uphold its promises, as with First Nations, and is "bound to honour its historical promises it made to (veterans)," a legal precedent known as Honour of the Crown.

The 2012 lawsuit cites former prime minister Sir Robert Borden's promise to look after veterans who served and were injured in the First World War.

In its Jan. 31 response to the suit, federal lawyers denied that any such contract exists, arguing that Parliament had the right to change how programs for veterans are administered in "a core policy decision to reallocate resources to achieve increased wellness and productivity."

In response to pointed criticism from veterans' groups, the Harper government has altered the 2006 legislation and says it is reviewing the charter. Fantino's comments may also show that the Harper cabinet is developing some cracks, at least when it comes to veterans.

But Fantino's welcome words of support may be of little comfort to injured veterans if they are not accompanied by action. In 2013, Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent made a number of recommendations to Fantino, noting that another review is not needed and urging the government to act on his report.

Parent's report said some 400 severely injured veterans over 65 will get no military pension under the charter and are at risk of poverty, while vocational and financial supports for injured vets under 65 are deficient.

One reservist in his 20s, cited by the group behind the lawsuit, suffered severe internal injuries in a mine blast in Afghanistan, including loss of his spleen and a kidney, part of his pancreas and a collapsed lung, which left him with permanent health problems. Veterans Affairs Canada gave him a lump-sum taxable payment of $41,000, or $140 a month, compared to a tax-free, indexed payment of about $1,400 a month from workers' compensation had he been similarly injured on the job in Canada.

Veterans injured during service to our country deserve adequate compensation for their pain, suffering, disability and resulting loss of income.

We congratulate Fantino for confirming that there is a social contract between Ottawa and injured vets, and hope he has the power to call off the lawyers and ensure that Canada takes proper care of its injured veterans.
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‘They’re not to be shunned, they’re to be respected’
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2014, 11:02:24 PM »
‘They’re not to be shunned, they’re to be respected’

http://lethbridgeherald.com/news/local-news/2014/03/27/theyre-not-to-be-shunned-theyre-to-be-respected/



By Lethbridge Herald on March 27, 2014.

Herald photo by David Rossiter Steve Critchley spoke on the topic: ‘How are Canadian military veterans surviving in a civilian work?’ at SACPA Thursday.Herald photo by David Rossiter Steve Critchley spoke on the topic: ‘How are Canadian military veterans surviving in a civilian work?’ at SACPA Thursday.

Nick Kuhl
Lethbridge Herald
nkuhl@lethbridgeherald.com

Steve Critchley says his organization, Can Praxis, unlike the federal government, “walks the talk” when it comes to helping Canada’s veterans deal with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although he doesn’t like to use the word “disorder.”

“That actually upsets me. The evidence now shows that there is physical damage to the brain,” Critchley said as he presented “How are Canadian military veterans surviving in a civilian world?” to SACPA at Country Kitchen Catering Thursday afternoon.

“These individuals are wounded. They’re not to be shunned, they’re to be respected. The challenge is that you cannot see mental injuries. PTSD is a horrendous injury. It really messes people up in an ugly way. There’s no easy fix for it.”

PTSD affects personalities, relationships, sex drive and even the ability to hold a simple conversation. But it also affects people differently and there is no one cure-all solution, said Critchley, a retired former harassment investigator, harassment adviser and an assisting officer for the Canadian Forces.
So he dedicated three years to develop a program designed to help the wounded start over with basic communication skills and basic conflict resolution skills to recharge, reclaim and renew in order to regrow.

Critchley and Can Praxis, which has been going for a year in Rocky Mountain House, use horses as a training aid. He says they are a social animal who understand a chain of command, but are also hyper sensitive with body language and honest feedback.
“They can tune into the environment around them very quickly. When that horse thinks it can trust you and respect you, it will come back to you all on its own,” Critchley said.

“We’re able to take those kinds of lessons and transfer those lessons from the horse arena to the human arena. It’s just retraining. We get people to learn by doing.”

Can Praxis is largely funded by Wounded Warriors Canada, a non-profit organization that helps Canadian Forces members, full time and reservists, who have been wounded or injured in their service to Canada. The program accepts up to six couples at a time, as spouses face the brunt of the symptoms, at no cost to the veteran.

“When a veteran is wounded, it’s not just the one individual, it affects the whole family; it’s the children, it’s the spouses, everyone who knows that individual,” Critchley said.

“They’re being looked at by society, by their own government, by their own peers, as weak. What that does is that shuts down communication. If you’re not talking, your comfort zone gets smaller and smaller.”

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Ottawa pushed to boost benefits for wounded soldiers
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2014, 11:06:02 PM »
Ottawa pushed to boost benefits for wounded soldiers

Advocates push Ottawa to make improvements in the benefits for veterans injured in Canada’s decade-long mission in Afghanistan.

http://www.thestar.com/news/honourday/2014/05/02/ottawa_pushed_to_boost_benefits_for_wounded_soldiers.html



By: Bruce Campion-Smith Ottawa Bureau, Published on Fri May 02 2014

OTTAWA—Wounded in war, hoping not to be forgotten in peace.

More than a decade of war in Afghanistan has left a legacy of casualties for Canada’s military, soldiers suffering the physical and mental wounds of their deployments.

And now as federal Conservatives prepare to hold “day of honour” on May 9 to mark Canada’s lengthy Afghan engagement, advocates say the best way to honour the sacrifices of the mission is to ensure the wounded are looked after.

“Honour the fallen and help the living. If we speak to the moms and the dads, the next of kin. I think that’s what they want,” said retired captain Wayne Johnston, co-founder of Wounded Warriors.

Johnston and others worry that with mission now over, the nation will move on and the focus will turn to other priorities, away from the veterans.

“Although May 9 will be a national day of honour, what happens on May 10 to the ones that are suffering and the families that are suffering,” NDP MP Peter Stoffer said.

“What are we doing to ensure their needs are met,” said Stoffer, the party’s critic for veterans affairs.

Indeed, there are questions about Ottawa’s treatment of veteran soldiers amidst concerns about mental health services, worries that veterans are being forced out of the military because of ill health, criticism that injured vets are being shortchanged, the reality that some are falling through bureaucratic cracks and finally, warnings that they face poverty in old age.

They include soldiers like Cpl. Mark Fuchko, who lost both legs when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in 2008.

He’s preparing to leave the forces on June 1 but says he faces an uncertain financial future because of the controversial package of benefits for veterans that has been fraught with problems since its introduction in 2005.

“There’s this talk of billions of dollars that has been spent on veterans within the last handful of years. But where was that money spent, because I certainly didn’t see any of it and neither has any of the veterans that I know,” he told the Star in an interview.

Fuchko, 29, says he has a “stack” of business cards from politicians who rushed to his side to show their support for vets, only to fade away when he tried to get concerns addressed, a point he drove home when he appeared before a parliamentary committee last month.

“I essentially became a photo op,” Fuchko told MPs. “I found out as soon as I started bringing up problems that they would stop listening, and then the photo op was over.”

Starting in 2001, Canada went to war in places like Kabul, Kandahar and frontline outposts like FOB Wilson and Masum Ghar on a mission to root out insurgents and bring stability to a long-troubled land.

In all, 40,026 Canadian soldiers served in the country; a quarter of them did more than one tour. It was a costly conflict, claiming the lives of 158 soldiers, a journalist and a diplomat. It left another 2,179 with physical wounds.

And while the last rotation of Canadian troops returned home from Kabul in March, formally ending the Afghan mission, the toll will continue as the psychological injuries surface in the years ahead. It’s expected that up to 20 per cent of those deployed — some 8,000 soldiers — will develop a mental health condition that can be attributed to Afghanistan.

Retired colonel Michel Drapeau says if Canada can make the multi-billion dollar investments in the hardware for war — transport planes, tanks and helicopters — then it must also plan to support the veterans when they come home, without forcing them to “beg for support.”

“It is beyond me that veterans have to parade here day after day and before parliamentary committees, to a nation that sent them to war,” Drapeau told reporters on Parliament Hill.

And yet the Conservatives, who boast often about their support for the armed forces, have surprisingly found themselves at war with veterans over the state of benefits and most recently, a decision to cut eight regional Veterans Affairs offices.

Those tensions spilled out in public in a showdown between Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and a group of veterans who had come to Ottawa to air their complaints. Fantino was late for the meeting and when he did show up, there were some heated exchanges. The minister later said that he “absolutely regrets” how the situation was handled.

But the face-off highlighted ongoing concerns around the so-called new Veterans Charter, meant to help injured soldiers make the transition to civilian life.

The Conservative government says it has pumped hundreds of million of dollars in new funding into program to assist soldiers and veterans. “We will ensure that veterans and their families have the support they need, where and when they need it,” Fantino told a parliamentary committee earlier this year.

And yet the veterans charter is undergoing yet more study and change amidst complaints that it still fails to fairly compensate veterans for their wounds or ensure their financial security for life after the military.

The Royal Canadian Legion says there are still “significant deficiencies” and has been pushing the government to make improvements.

“The legion is concerned that the government has forgotten the moral obligation to look after veterans and their families who have been injured as a result of their service to Canada,” said Gordon Moore, the legion’s dominion president.

“The government put them in harm’s way; now the government has an obligation to look after them,” Moore told MPs this year.

Injured soldiers leaving the military can receive 75 per cent of their salary but that is capped at $42,426. The legion wants it raised to 100 per cent of the pre-release salary and paid out for life.

It wants an increase to disability awards, saying the payments have not kept pace with civilian awards for pain and suffering due to injuries.

And it wants benefits increased for reservists, who served alongside regular force troops in Afghanistan but often received less compensation for their injuries because of their status.

Other concerns focus on the military’s “universality of service,” the decree that everyone in uniform is fit enough to be deployed.

As result, soldiers fear that by seeking help for an injury — either physical or mental — they risk putting their military careers in jeopardy. That keeps some soldiers from seeking assistance, especially for mental health issues.

“It’s the old adage, if you’re not deployable, you’re not employable and out you go,” Stoffer said.

“They were injured in the service of the military and surely you would think in some cases you’d be able to readjust these individuals into some other work in the military.”

And yet top commanders have signalled they have no intention of easing the military’s fitness requirements to allow injured soldiers to remain in the ranks.

But the transition facing injured soldiers to civilian life — and into the care of Veterans Affairs — is far from seamless. Injured soldiers can face new medical assessments to prove their health issues are related to their military service, a cumbersome process that can delay benefits or see them rejected altogether.

That has prompted some, like Sen. Roméo Dallaire, a retired general, to suggest that national defence and veterans affairs to be merged into a single department to eliminate such barriers.

In the short-term, Stoffer says new veterans should be allowed access to military health resources for a certain period after they leave the forces to assist with the transition to civilian life.

“One of the biggest problems is when you leave the military on Friday, you then fall into civilian hands on Monday and in some cases, you have to find a doctor, psychologist and they may not be there,” Stoffer said.

“Why not allow that individual to have access to military medical resources for at least two years as they make the transition,” Stoffer said.

Fuchko lost both legs, suffered a broken pelvis and expect he will need both hips replaced at some point in the future. For his pain and suffering, he got $266,000.

When he finds work outside the military, he says any additional income he earns will be clawed back from the earnings loss benefit, removing any incentive to work.

He is currently at Mount Royal University and hopes to get a law degree because he has little faith that the current benefits will leave him little more than “poverty-stricken.”

Still, he’s hoping that public appetite to see veterans cared for will spark change.

“In Canada there’s really been a love affair with the military because of Afghanistan and Canadians see the military in a much more positive light than they have in years prior,” Fuchko said in the interview.

“So I think there’s real appetite to see those who had to make some really horrible sacrifices looked after,” he said.

“The awareness I think is there but there needs to be action,” Fuchko said.
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