Author Topic: Canadian Veterans Advocacy Situation report, 5 May, 2012 Urgent-max disseminati  (Read 2339 times)

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Mike Blais

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Canadian Veterans Advocacy Situation report, 5 May, 2012  Urgent-max dissemination

Serving members, fellow veterans, families and Patriotic Canadians
We have been very busy… CVA executive have repeatedly travelled to Ottawa to provide emotional and moral support to the Memorial Cross Mother Sheila Fynes while she participates in the Military Police Complaint Commission’s hearing into the suicide of her son, Cpl Stuart Langridge. I pass on the Fynes’ regards to those who have offered their support in so many ways; Shaun and Sheila are very grateful and sometimes words cannot convey the feelings of gratitude they have for you. The Canadian Veterans Advocacy is also grateful for your support. We could not have provided the ongoing assistance had we not been supported by your financial donations and I would personally thank everyone who has contributed to our mission. Please know that 100% of funds have gone towards operational costs such as travel, parking/cabs and very frugal accommodations. It is 1200 ks return from Niagara… CVA Executives cover their own food and essentials but, even “on the cheap”, the costs of repeated trips to Ottawa add up. If you do wish to contribute to the CVA war chest to help us continue in this work, please visit our web site at
While our goal has been to provide emotional and moral support, I am becoming increasingly concerned about the validity of the Military Police Complaints Commission’s ability to render true justice. There have been significant restrictions placed on the commissioner and the scope of the commission’s mandate. I cannot count the times that Department of Justice lawyers have reminded the commissioner of what he can -- and cannot – investigate, even when it would appear the subject matter is directly related to the investigation. Of course, I am not a lawyer, nor is this a court of law, yet I fail to see how the commissioner can render justice for the Fynes family or the military policemen who have been identified in their complaint when a substantial volume of evidence is heavily redacted and hundreds, if not thousands of documents have been provided to the commissioners and defense lawyers since the hearing began despite ample time for full disclosure. The matters under review by the commission are serious, Canadians must understand that no matter how the commissioner rules, there will be serious consequences. Unfortunately, because of the limited scope of his investigative powers and other complicating factors, I am not optimistic justice can be served through this process.
Inroads into Ottawa
Our recent presence in Ottawa has been beneficial to the CVA. We have established a reputation as the only national veterans’ advocacy willing to engage parliamentarians directly in order to attain our mission statement objectives and restore the sacred Obligation Parliament has for those they send to war, an lifetime obligation abandoned in by the Government of Canada in April 2006 with the implementation of the New Veterans Charter. This past April 8th and 9th, we were invited to attend the 95th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in Ottawa, to lay the Vimy Wreath during the sunset ceremonies and to place a ceremonial poppy in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Monday’s DND ceremony. This event provided a opportunity to engage ADM Kieth Hillier,VAC Services and discuss the issues at length. This past week, we were fortunate to attend the ANZAC anniversary of Gallipoli and afterwards, meet the High Commissioner of Australia (a true pleasure), Minister Steven Blaney, Deputy Minister Suzanne Tining and Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay, who expressed sympathy for the Fynes family when informed that the Canadian Veterans Advocacy was present in Ottawa primarily to provide humanitarian support this courageous Memorial Cross Mother. We have been invited also to attend the Korean Veterans Day on June 24th, 2012 and lay a wreath on behave of the Canadians Veterans Advocacy to honour the five hundred and sixteen valiant Canadians who, to this date, are interned at commonwealth graveyards in Korea.

Lest we forget.
Ste. Anne’s Hospital – Update
I believe there is cause for optimism with regard to the transfer of Ste. Anne’s Hospital to provincial control. In our efforts to gather all the facts before judging the impact of the transfer, I met with VAC Union President Yvan Thauvette and spoke with Benjamin Woodman from Minister Blaney's office. Both representatives were receptive to our feedback- concerns and I thank each of them for their efforts. Of course, we will monitor the situation at Ste. Anne’s, Parkwood Hospital and other veteran-specific care centres in order to ensure the maintenance of the standard of care. If the outstanding standards degrade, at St Anne’s or anywhere else in Canada, the CVA is will mobilize to effectively communicate our concerns to the provincial government. Many of the veterans who rely on these hospitals are very frail; they and their wives are vulnerable. It is our duty to stand up for these veterans just as we fight for the rights of those who serve today.

Ongoing Operations

Current – Operation Positive Review – SISIP

The Canadian veterans Advocacy is encouraging all Canadians to email the ministers of Defense and Justice to request, with all due respect, to not appeal the ruling that provides justice and a dignified lifetysle for so many disabled veterans. The law is clear, the intent of parliament has been subject to a cruel and illegal process that has denied seriously disabled veterans the dignified life they deserve. Please see attached press release, all information re contact details and purpose are noted. Then do it! Write and email, it only talks a moment, copy and paste the addresses and click send. Form letters do not work, you have to write something down for you heart.

Warning Order – DND Mental health cut backs – Operation name to be decided. 

While the Canadian Veterans advocacy was not created to engage the Department of National Defense, the issue of mental health is one of our mission statements and we will engage when necessary. Many veterans are still serving and as such, care is provided to by DND, not VAC. Recent announcements in response to the Conservative government’s austerity based cutbacks to DND mental health programs are very alarming, particularly at the brigade sized combat bases where thousands of soldiers, airman, sailors and their families are experiencing the consequences of repeated deployments to Afghanistan, the Libyan campaign and ongoing mission abroad. Let us never forget, that while the focus of our attention may have been draw to the Afghanistan war due to the severity of the wounds and casualty numbers, the Canadian Veterans Advocacy serves all veterans!

As always, the CVA requires a full understanding to the situation before we engage. To attain a heightened sense of operational awareness, we need your help. First, I would all all serving members who are concerned or have an opinion on the proposed mental health reductions to send me a letter/email defining your situation, concerns and yes, fears. I would encourage spouses to participate in this campaign. The communiqués will be held in strict confidence or, if you wish, posted at our information repository as a segment of a potential public awareness campaign should we be called to engage. I have spoken to and sought information from Peter Stoffer and reached out to the president of the DND employees union with the hope that we can establish solid relationship as we have done with the union for Veterans Affairs Employees. Next week when I am in Ottawa, I will speak to Sean Casey and Peter personally at the hearing Monday and on Tuesday, if possible, Colonel Blais, JPSU. I also hope to arrange a brief meeting with Minister Mackay to seek his assurances in person but, under the short time conditions and my obligations to the Fynes family, this may not be feasible. At the moment, the government has announced that these are proposals, not confirmed plans, as such, time is critical and we must move while we can to ensure these proposals are not implemented!

D-Day Vigil – June 6th, 2012, Parliament Hill
Now that the Budget war and St Anne’s issues have been resolved, it is time for the Canadian Veterans Advocacy to return to its primary mandate and pro-actively campaign on the issues upon which we were founded, such as the abolishment of the discriminatory lump sum award, the restoration of the LIFE TIME obligation and standards of compensation for widows that was accorded prior to the NVC and the SISIP Issue. I would also encourage veterans affected by this cruel and unjust policy join with us on Parliament Hill or organize D-DAY events of your own so that we might collectively send a message to the Department of Justice and Defence that we expect justice to be served and a positive review concluded with all due haste.
On June 6th, 2012, the 68th anniversary of D-Day, the Canadian Veterans Advocacy is serving members, veterans, their families and concerned and patriotic Canadians to join us on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The purpose of this vigil is two fold: first, to offer our respects to those valiant Canadians who fought at Juno Beach on June 6th, 1944 and secondly, in honouring the memory of those who courageously fought, who were injured or who died in the historic battle, draw attention to the discrepancy in the standards of care and respect this nation accorded to its “traditional veterans” compared to the shameful standards now foisted on our modern-day veterans of past peacekeeping missions and of Afghanistan.
Stand with us! Make a difference! We we assemble near the National War Memorial on June 6th at 1400 hours (Corner of Wellington and Elgin) and, at the conclusion of Question Period, we will invite parliamentarians to join us on the steps of the House of Commons where the service will be held. I am seeking someone to sing the national anthem, a piper and trumpetter for the last post, if anybody knows anybody who can volunteer... it is not often you get a chance to play on Parliament Hill so – please contact me through the CVA website if you are interested.   
The time has come, you can make a difference to so many by simply writing a letter to your MP reference SISIP or, on June 6th, standing for those who have sacrificed so much, the …wounded, the crippled, the maimed, the armless, the legless, the blind and the insane… Speak out, justice can be served but only we, the veterans of Canada, lead by example to persuade all Canadians to embrace their patriotic obligation to support and defend those who once stood on guard for thee.

Pro Patria Semper Fidelis

Michael L Blais CD
Founder/President, Canadian Veterans Advocacy
6618 Harper Drive, Niagara Falls, Ont, Cda.
L2E 7K6 // 905-357-3306 // Cell 905-359-9247

Mike Blais

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Mental health 'more worthy' cause than war: soldier

CTV News Video

CTV Winnipeg: Soldier ordered to stay silent
Canadian Forces Corporal Steve Stoesz said he was ordered not to talk to the media about his mental health struggles. CTV's Rajeev Dhir reports from Winnipeg.

CTV's Question Period: Cuts to mental health services
Sean Bruyea, an injured military advocate and journalist, explains who will be affected by the cuts. Cpl. Steve Stoesz opens up about his experience when dealing with the gov't with regards to his depression, adding he was ordered not to do the interview.

CTV's Question Period: What exactly will be cut?
NDP Peter Stoffer says more mental health care workers are required, not less, and Conservative Chris Alexander says there will not be any cuts to front line services.

Afghanistan war veteran Steve Stoesz appeared on CTV's Question Period despite orders not to talk to media about proposed cuts to mental health services for Canadian soldiers.

View Larger Image Staff

Date: Sun. May. 6 2012 7:38 PM ET

Afghanistan war veteran Steve Stoesz survived multiple combat injuries, but his biggest fight was a psychological one -- and it was waiting for him when he returned home.

The Canadian soldier who has been battling anxiety and depression continues to defy what he said was a direct order from the Department of National Defence not to talk publicly about proposed cuts to mental health services for soldiers.

Three days after he spoke to CTV News about his own struggle with mental health issues and obstacles veterans face when looking for treatment, Stoesz appeared on CTV's Question Period Sunday, despite being under investigation for talking to the media.

"I was ordered not to do this interview," he told Question Period. "But at the end of the day, I have to live with myself, and I couldn't live with myself not getting this info out there and making a difference."

"This cause is more worthy than the cause in Afghanistan, and I was willing to die for the cause in Afghanistan to me, so it goes to show how much this means to me," Stoesz said.

He is critical of proposed National Defence job cuts and the proposed closure of a mental health facility in Ottawa, which opposition MPs say will make it harder for soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder to get help.

While Stoesz hasn't been diagnosed with PTSD himself, he said fighting in Afghanistan took an emotional and mental toll on him. Things only got worse when he completed his tour of duty and returned to Canada, Stoesz said.

"Most of my psychological injuries are coming from not getting the proper physical care," Stoesz said. "Since I've been home I've been fighting non-stop for my own kind of deal, and that's just brought such a psychological toll on me that it's been devastating to my whole life and my whole mental state. I have a battle with the medical system, and then as well one with Veterans Affairs."

Stoesz said he didn't meet the full criteria for a PTSD diagnosis even though he has "14 out of 15" symptoms of the disorder.

"I don't have flashbacks from Afghanistan, or the dreams I have, I don't particularly mind. Most of my psychological stuff comes from the fight after. I suffer depression, anxiety, paranoia, that kind of stuff, so almost everything is there for PTSD," he said.

Stoesz told CTV News on Friday that he could face two charges for defying the order not to speak to the media -- conduct unbecoming, or disobeying lawful command. The penalties range from a fine up to $800, time in a military jail, or both.

Meanwhile, National Defence has backpedalled on its plans to eliminate some jobs and services, with officials saying the cuts are only being considered for now.

The union representing military medical professionals has said the cuts will mean closing the Deployment Health Unit, charged with monitoring the mental health of soldiers.

A host of civilian jobs, including cooks, secretaries, weapons technicians and mechanics, could also be on the chopping block.

Peter Stoffer, the NDP Veterans Affairs critic, said Stoesz is not alone in his struggles. The fact that 20 Canadian military personnel -- 19 men and one woman -- took their lives last year underscores the need for more mental health care workers and better services, Stoffer told Question Period.

Chris Alexander, the parliamentary secretary to Defence Minister Peter MacKay, defended his government's record, saying there have been "huge increases" in the service levels provided to veterans and soldiers since 2006, when the Conservatives took power.

"There are dozens of primary care clinics. There are mental health clinics that weren't there before across the country. And we've come close to doubling the number of mental health professionals who are serving the Canadian Forces," he told Question Period. "And we're absolutely committed to making sure that those numbers of frontline workers do not go down."

Still, Alexander said the DND has to find savings somewhere in the system.

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