Author Topic: 74-year-old widow denied Agent Orange payments from federal government  (Read 1512 times)

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74-year-old widow denied Agent Orange payments from federal government

 
 
By Codi Wilson, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal December 26, 2011 7:09 PM
 
 
 
Pauline Kelly in her home in Wirral, the area in rural New Brunswick close to the army grounds, where she has lived her entire life. She is holding a photo of herself and her husband, Floyd. Veterans Affairs Canada has denied a request to Pauline Kelly to receive her late husband's Agent Orange ex-gratia payment.
 
Pauline Kelly in her home in Wirral, the area in rural New Brunswick close to the army grounds, where she has lived her entire life. She is holding a photo of herself and her husband, Floyd. Veterans Affairs Canada has denied a request to Pauline Kelly to receive her late husband's Agent Orange ex-gratia payment.
Photograph by: Kate Braydon, Telegraph-Journal

Veterans Affairs Canada has denied a 74-year-old widow?s request to receive her late husband?s Agent Orange ex-gratia payment because he was living in a long-term care facility at the time of his death.

In June 2008, Pauline Kelly, of Enniskillen, N.B., lost her husband of more than 50 years. Joseph Floyd Kelly had been suffering from Alzheimer?s disease and throat cancer, a medical condition known to be caused by exposure to the defoliant chemical. The 79-year-old man had been living at White Rapids Manor, a long-term care facility in Fredericton Junction, for approximately 17 months when he died.

?I couldn?t keep him home any longer. He didn?t believe this was his home,? Kelly said. ?I?d take him for a drive and he would be upset with me when I brought him back home. He didn?t want to get out of the car and he would take off on me.?

For decades, the couple lived in a house with a view of the gates at the entrance to Canadian Forces Base Gagetown. They lived there with their four children during the mid-1960s when the U.S. military tested Agent Orange at the army base.

After Kelly?s husband died, she applied for the government?s $20,000 ex-gratia payment program on his behalf but was denied because she wasn?t considered to be his primary caregiver. Veterans Affairs states that a primary caregiver must have lived with the deceased for an ongoing period of at least one year prior to the individual?s death.

In a letter from Veterans Affairs Canada dated Dec. 1, Kelly was told the latest decision was considered her ?final level review.?

The letter read, ?Although this decision may not be the decision you had hoped for, please be assured that your request was given careful consideration.?

On Monday evening, Veterans Affairs released an email response which said that the federal government ?promised to deal with the Agent Orange issue and we delivered on this promise. In 2007, our government announced a $20,000 ex-gratia payment related to the testing of Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown during the summers of 1966 and 1967. In December 2010, our government went even further by enhancing the eligibility criteria, as well as extending the deadline for a medical diagnosis and the deadline for applications to June 30, 2011. We went beyond our initial commitment by providing additional funds to the program to ensure all those who are eligible for the ex-gratia payment receive it. Until December 31, 2011, Minister (Steven) Blaney will continue to monitor cases to ensure fair and accurate decisions are being made. This is concrete proof that our government is delivering transparent and measurable results for our Veterans and their families.?

Kelly said she and two of her four children previously had received payments under the ex-gratia program.

In 2004, the same year her husband was diagnosed with cancer, Kelly said her only daughter, Colleen, died of ovarian cancer.

?I miss my daughter terribly. We used to go every place together and she was the only girl I had. I had three boys. She was the youngest,? Kelly said.

Kelly said when she placed her husband in the care facility in early 2007, she visited him nearly every day.

She said before her husband moved to the home, she had caught him playing with lighters near propane tanks and turning on stovetop burners for no reason. ?He had no idea who I was. He didn?t think I was his wife. He used to ask me when my shift was over and when the next one was coming.?

Guy Parent, Canada?s veterans ombudsman, spoke out against Veterans Affairs Canada last week for excluding certain applicants who should qualify for the payment program.

Parent said Veterans Affairs Canada is denying claims from caregivers based on ?very narrow? interpretations. He specifically referred to a widow who had her claim denied because her husband was in a long-term care facility when he died.

?The definitions used by Veterans Affairs Canada would not withstand public or legal scrutiny. This is nothing short of scandalous!? Parent said in his statement issued last week. ?One wonders how many other individuals have been denied the ?ex-gratia? payment unfairly.?

Kelly?s grandson has been corresponding with Veterans Affairs Canada for several months and is upset at the way it has handled his grandmother?s case.

?I?d like to know the fellow in the office that figures that, after 53 years, that you are going to drop somebody off at a care home and never go look after them in that care home. That is an absolutely ridiculous thought process,? Shane Kelly said. ?It?s very hard to get a letter back like that from somebody when you know you?ve done all you can for your spouse of 53 years.?
? Copyright (c) New Brunswick Telegraph Journal

Read more: http://new.canada.com/health/year+widow+denied+Agent+Orange+payments+from+federal+government/5912282/story.html#ixzz1hhcI0nT2


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