Author Topic: Equitas Notice of Civil Claim Attorney General of Canada  (Read 44799 times)

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Alberta veteran part of class-action lawsuit over benefits
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 05:51:33 PM »
Alberta veteran part of class-action lawsuit over benefits

by Mark Harvey, CBC News
Posted: Oct 30, 2012 3:49 PM MT
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2012 4:38 PM MT
Read 0 comments0

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/10/30/edmonton-veterans-benefits-class-action-lawsuit.html


Maj. Mark Campbell lost both his legs in 2008 when he was severely wounded in a roadside explosion in Afghanistan. (CBC)

An Edmonton-area soldier is one of six plaintiffs suing the federal government over changes to veterans’ benefits.

The men say soldiers who were wounded after the Veterans Charter became law in 2006 will receive significantly less over their lifetimes.

"We had no inkling," said Maj. Mark Campbell of Sturgeon County. "It's taken years to come to where I understand in great detail exactly what has been done to our new generation of combat veterans, and it is horrific, it's disgusting."

The statement of claim, filed Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court, alleges the government violated the constitutional rights of the soldiers by discriminating against disabled people financially; that by passing the New Veterans Charter it failed in its fiduciary duty to support veterans; and that it broke the constitutional principle of "Honour of the Crown," by failing to keep the social promises Canada made to soldiers it sends into combat.

In 2008, while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, Campbell was severely wounded in an explosion during an ambush by Taliban fighters.

Both his legs were blown off. Years later, he uses a wheelchair and carries a large box of medications to help manage his pain and psychological problems.

Campbell feels abandoned by a government that sent him to war and is now more concerned with budget cuts.

"It's an abject betrayal for a friggin' buck. I paid my dues"
Veterans' benefits lower than WCB

Jim Scott, the father of a wounded soldier, called the offer from Veterans Affairs to his son "pathetic".

"The severely disabled soldiers are disadvantaged by about 30 per cent ... and partially disabled soldiers can be disadvantaged up 90 per cent compared to what other workers compensation programs would provide, or the courts would if they were provided a lump sum settlement,” he said.

Scott is the director of the Equitas Society which is raising money to support Campbell and the other soldiers in the class-action suit.
Canada failed to keep promise to veterans

Don Sorochan is a partner with Miller Thomson, the firm which agreed to take on the case pro bono.

Sorochan said the New Veterans Charter discriminates against veterans wounded since 2006.

The lawsuit also makes use of an ancient, and higher, legal doctrine called "The Honour of the Crown", which says the court assumes the Crown intends to keep its promises.

The suit alleges the government has broken a promise to look after the soldiers it sends into battle, and that the Honour of the Crown requires it to fulfill its promises notwithstanding any laws it passes to the contrary.

"This case will provide a mechanism for us, as citizens of Canada, to do the right thing for these soldiers ... to be as loyal to them as they are loyal to us." Sorochan said.

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Afghanistan war vets file class-action suit against federal government
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2012, 01:19:32 AM »
Afghanistan war vets file class-action suit against federal government

http://www.montrealgazette.com/mobile/news/national-news/Afghanistan+vets+file+classaction+suit+against+federal+government/7471770/story.html


Tuesday, October 30, 2012
By Dene Moore, The Canadian Press
 

VANCOUVER - A group of Afghanistan war veterans has filed a class-action lawsuit against the federal government, saying the disability payment regime under the New Veterans Charter violates their human rights.

The lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday claims disability payments are decided arbitrarily and aren't enough to support soldiers who have been injured.

"There's no other group of people who can be ordered to put their life on the line for their country," said Don Sorochan, the Vancouver lawyer representing six current and former soldiers named in the suit.

In return, there is a social covenant between those men and women and the citizens of this country to take care of them if they are injured, he said.

"It's a promise by us, as the people of Canada, that we will look after those who put their lives on the line for us and who put their bodies on the line for us.

"Unfortunately, the bureaucrats don't think it is binding on them."

The lawsuit claims the new charter is a breach of the fiduciary duty owed to injured soldiers, and it seeks damages as well as a declaration that disabled veterans have been discriminated against.

The disability payments for injured and disabled soldiers are "paltry" in comparison to awards handed out in Canadian civil courts and by workers' compensation boards, Sorochan said.

Among the six soldiers named in the lawsuit against the Attorney General of Canada is Maj. Mark Douglas Campbell, 47, a 32-year veteran of the Canadian Forces who served in Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

On June 2, 2008, Campbell, a member of the Edmonton-based Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was mentoring an Afghan National Army battalion that was hit by an IED 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.

Still a serving member of the forces, he will receive taxable monthly payments of $10,787.50 when he retires, almost half of it from his regular military annuity. The rest will come from an earnings loss benefit reduced to account for the annuity, a permanent impairment allowance because of his lost job opportunities due to permanent impairment, and a supplement because he is entirely unable to work.

It will leave him in a net earnings loss, the lawsuit claims.

"Mr. Campbell suffered a catastrophic injury that ended his upwards career as a senior decorated Canadian Forces member," says the lawsuit.

"He is incapable of earning a gainful income and will most certainly suffer financial distress in the future as family needs far exceed their reduced means."

Cpl. Bradley Darren Quast, 23, was part of a light armoured patrol hit by an IED on Dec. 30, 2009. Four soldiers and Canadian journalist Michelle Lang were killed.

"Mr. Quast was extremely disoriented following the blast. He found himself lying amongst deceased and dismembered victims of the blast," the lawsuit says. "People were screaming and Mr. Quast saw injured and dying comrades strewn about the blast (site)."

Quast, a reservist in the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment, suffered severe injuries to his leg and foot. He's undergone numerous surgeries and has another scheduled for spring of next year.

Quast, who has been told he will be medically discharged but has not been given a date, received an initial $55,000 lump sum payment for pain and suffering and another $43,000 last year.

In May, he received another $102,000 lump sum payment for post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder.

Quast, who wanted to pursue a career as a police officer, may never be able to meet the physical requirements, the lawsuit says.

The other soldiers named in the suit include a Port Moody soldier who suffered injuries to his knees patrolling the streets of Kabul and a Vancouver reservist hit by a tree felled to clear out fields of fire around a remote outpost in Kandahar province.

Bombadier Daniel Christopher Scott, a reservist from Surrey, B.C., was injured in a February 2010 training accident at the Kankala Range in Kandahar province.

Scott, 26, suffered a leg fracture, collapsed lung and damage to his kidney, spleen and pancreas when a claymore mine exploded close to his platoon. Another soldier died en route with him to the hospital at Kandahar Air Field.

Two officers in charge and a warrant officer who detonated the mine faced court-martial over the accident.

Scott received a $41,000 lump sum payment in lieu of a disability pension, an amount the lawsuit said is insufficient to cover damages for the permanent injuries he suffered and the loss of earning capacity.

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

It's not the first lawsuit launched over the New Veterans Charter, which was adopted unanimously by Parliament and came into effect in 2006.

Earlier this month, Veterans Affairs ended a policy of clawing back benefit payments of disabled veterans after a Federal Court rejected the practice.

It is the "honour of the Crown" that is at stake, said Sorochan, who has taken on the case pro bono.

He said he is always hopeful that disputes can be resolved without a long court fight. A class-action lawsuit can take years to wind its way through the courts.

"The New Veterans Charter was thought, unanimously, by all politicians then in Parliament, to be a good thing. They were wrong. And now we're using this lawsuit as a mechanism to try and get it across that they were wrong," he said.

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EQUITAS Press Releaase Oct 30, 2012
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2012, 01:32:20 AM »

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Equitas: Veteran lawsuit (Video)
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 01:43:03 AM »
Equitas: Veteran lawsuit (Video)

Tue, Oct 30 - Several veterans have filed a class action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court claiming their constitutional rights are being violated by the rules for payments in the new veterans charter. John Daly explains.

Read it on Global News: Veteran lawsuit - News Hour - Videos | Global BC

http://www.globaltvbc.com/video/veteran+lawsuit/video.html?v=2298527593#stories

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Des anciens soldats déposent un recours collectif contre Ottawa
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 01:52:55 AM »
Des anciens soldats déposent un recours collectif contre Ottawa

Publié le 30 octobre 2012   20h39 | Mis   jour le 30 octobre 2012   20h39
Dene Moore
La Presse Canadienne
Vancouver

http://www.lapresse.ca/actualites/dossiers/le-canada-en-afghanistan/201210/30/01-4588655-des-anciens-soldats-deposent-un-recours-collectif-contre-ottawa.php



Un groupe d'anciens combattants qui étaient de la mission canadienne en Afghanistan a déposé un recours collectif contre le gouvernement fédéral, soutenant que le régime de prestations d'invalidité prévu par la nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants viole leurs droits civils.

L'action judiciaire déposée mardi à la Cour suprême de la Colombie-Britannique fait valoir que les prestations d'invalidité ont été fixées de façon arbitraire et qu'elles sont insuffisantes pour soutenir les soldats ayant été blessés au combat.

Don Sorochan, l'avocat de Vancouver qui représente les six plaignants, estime qu'«il n'y a aucun autre groupe de personnes (que les soldats) à qui la société ordonne de mettre leur vie en danger pour leur pays».

En retour, il existe un contrat social entre ces hommes et ces femmes et les citoyens de ce pays: on ne peut les laisser à eux-mêmes s'ils sont blessés, plaide Me Sorochan.

Selon le recours collectif, le gouvernement ne remplit pas son devoir fiducial à l'égard des anciens combattants. Les plaignants souhaitent donc obtenir un dédommagement. Ils demandent aussi au gouvernement de reconnaître, dans une déclaration, qu'il a fait de la discrimination à l'endroit des anciens combattants.

Les prestations d'invalidité pour les soldats blessés et handicapés sont «dérisoires» comparativement aux montants d'argent qui sont accordés aux travailleurs par les tribunaux civils canadiens et les commissions d'indemnisation des accidentés du travail, allègue-t-on dans le recours collectif.

Don Sorochan, qui représente bénévolement les anciens combattants, espère ne pas avoir à se lancer dans une longue bataille juridique - les recours collectifs peuvent mettre des années avant de se retrouver devant les tribunaux.

«Tous les politiciens qui ont pensé et adopté la nouvelle charte des anciens combattants estimaient qu'il s'agissait d'une bonne chose. Ils avaient tort. Et maintenant, nous entamons des démarches juridiques afin de leur faire réaliser cela», a-t-il affirmé.

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Veterans seek to launch class-action lawsuit over injury compensation
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 02:15:53 PM »
Veterans seek to launch class-action lawsuit over injury compensation
 
 
By Tara Carman and Mike Hager, The Vancouver Sun October 31, 2012 10:22 AM
 

 
Veterans seek to launch class-action lawsuit over injury compensation
 
Afghan veteran Kevin Berry says he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and hopes a lawsuit will lead to better compensation.
Photograph by: Glenn Baglo, PNG Files , Vancouver Sun

Lump-sum payments issued by the federal government to injured veterans do not provide sufficient compensation for physical and mental trauma that can last a lifetime, according to a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The six plaintiffs in the case — four of whom are from B.C. — are current or former members of the Canadian Forces who were injured in the course of duty and are seeking damages from the federal government. If the court certifies the lawsuit as a class action, it could apply to hundreds of veterans who served and were injured in Afghanistan.

“It’s a restoration of hope,” plaintiff Kevin Berry said of the proposed lawsuit. “To be taking action feels a lot better than talking about taking action.

“Adapting to the injuries that I suffered overseas and at the same time having to fight my own government, that’s been incredibly taxing, both psychologically and physically.”

Berry said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and long-term pain in both knees after tearing ligaments during a routine patrol. Panic attacks have limited him to studying history part time at Simon Fraser University and Berry said he spends much of his free time talking to other veterans with PTSD through online support networks.

“This isn’t a new problem,” he said. “It’s new that we’re talking about it.

“There are probably cavemen that smashed someone’s head in with a rock that had symptoms of PTSD.”

His PTSD led alcohol abuse and has ruined numerous relationships, Berry said. Though he still suffers anxiety attacks, Berry said he has been sober 18 months and hopes to graduate from SFU and go into public service of some type.

Afghanistan’s veterans should get the same benefits offered to soldiers of previous generations, Berry said, adding that his end wish is to see pensions restored and lump-sum payments abolished.

“The main thing is we don’t want any more and we don’t want any less than any previous verterans,” he said.

At the heart of the lawsuit are changes made by the federal government to the way veterans are compensated for injuries sustained over the course of duty. The changes, which took effect in 2006, established a lump-sum payment program under a piece of legislation called the New Veterans Charter that work out to anywhere between 30 and 65 per cent less than the disability pensions previously provided under the Pension Act, according to the statement of claim. The government unfairly expects veterans to invest the lump-sum payout and live off the interest for the rest of their lives, despite their own reduced ability to earn income, the lawsuit alleges.

Donald Sorochan, QC, said of the six plaintiffs he is representing, several would have been awarded more money by a court if a similar injury occurred in a Canadian workplace.

For instance, the injuries suffered by plaintiff Gavin Flett, who broke his femur and shattered an ankle while clearing brush at a combat outpost in Afghanistan, are “comparable to a workers’ compensation situation — like an injury for a forestry worker,” Sorochan said. Another plaintiff, Dan Scott, “is analogous to an act of negligence.”

Scott was badly injured by shrapnel during a training exercise when fellow soldiers accidentally exploded a claymore mine at close range.

The amount of money a veteran can receive is capped at $293,308 regardless of the number of injuries, whereas courts can award up to $342,500 per injury. Courts also take into account things like past wage loss, future earning loss, future care and fund management fees “but the awards under the New Veterans Charter are substantially less than lump sum awards of damages for similar injuries determined in judicial proceedings and do not take all of these factors into account,” the lawsuit claims, adding that some injured veterans receive up to 90 per cent less than what they would through the courts or workers’ compensation as a result.

“Since the enactment of the New Veterans Charter (injured veterans) have been terminated in their employment and forced out of their income source as members in the Canadian Forces, have been unable to find meaningful employment and have been provided with a total financial compensation package ... that is insufficient to maintain a normal lifestyle for those of similar employment background in Canadian society,” the lawsuit claims.

The plaintiffs are seeking, among other things, declarations that the table of disabilities used to assess damages is of no force and effect and that the plaintiffs have been discriminated against contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also seek to be paid the difference of the amount they received under the New Veterans Charter and what they would have received for similar injuries as assessed by the courts, plus damages and interest.

Veterans Affairs Canada spokeswoman Janice Summerby said the government will not comment on the lawsuit as it is before the courts.

tcarman@vancouversun.com

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mhager@vancouversun.com

Lump-sum payments issued by the federal government to injured veterans do not provide sufficient compensation for physical and mental trauma that can last a lifetime, according to a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The six plaintiffs in the case — four of whom are from B.C. — are current or former members of the Canadian Forces who were injured in the course of duty and are seeking damages from the federal government. If the court certifies the lawsuit as a class action, it could apply to hundreds of veterans who served and were injured in Afghanistan.

“It’s a restoration of hope,” plaintiff Kevin Berry said of the proposed lawsuit. “To be taking action feels a lot better than talking about taking action.

“Adapting to the injuries that I suffered overseas and at the same time having to fight my own government, that’s been incredibly taxing, both psychologically and physically.”

Berry said he still suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and long-term pain in both knees after tearing ligaments during a routine patrol. Panic attacks have limited him to studying history part time at Simon Fraser University and Berry said he spends much of his free time talking to other veterans with PTSD through online support networks.

“This isn’t a new problem,” he said. “It’s new that we’re talking about it.

“There are probably cavemen that smashed someone’s head in with a rock that had symptoms of PTSD.”

His PTSD led alcohol abuse and has ruined numerous relationships, Berry said. Though he still suffers anxiety attacks, Berry said he has been sober 18 months and hopes to graduate from SFU and go into public service of some type.

Afghanistan’s veterans should get the same benefits offered to soldiers of previous generations, Berry said, adding that his end wish is to see pensions restored and lump-sum payments abolished.

“The main thing is we don’t want any more and we don’t want any less than any previous verterans,” he said.

At the heart of the lawsuit are changes made by the federal government to the way veterans are compensated for injuries sustained over the course of duty. The changes, which took effect in 2006, established a lump-sum payment program under a piece of legislation called the New Veterans Charter that work out to anywhere between 30 and 65 per cent less than the disability pensions previously provided under the Pension Act, according to the statement of claim. The government unfairly expects veterans to invest the lump-sum payout and live off the interest for the rest of their lives, despite their own reduced ability to earn income, the lawsuit alleges.

Donald Sorochan, QC, said of the six plaintiffs he is representing, several would have been awarded more money by a court if a similar injury occurred in a Canadian workplace.

For instance, the injuries suffered by plaintiff Gavin Flett, who broke his femur and shattered an ankle while clearing brush at a combat outpost in Afghanistan, are “comparable to a workers’ compensation situation — like an injury for a forestry worker,” Sorochan said. Another plaintiff, Dan Scott, “is analogous to an act of negligence.”

Scott was badly injured by shrapnel during a training exercise when fellow soldiers accidentally exploded a claymore mine at close range.

The amount of money a veteran can receive is capped at $293,308 regardless of the number of injuries, whereas courts can award up to $342,500 per injury. Courts also take into account things like past wage loss, future earning loss, future care and fund management fees “but the awards under the New Veterans Charter are substantially less than lump sum awards of damages for similar injuries determined in judicial proceedings and do not take all of these factors into account,” the lawsuit claims, adding that some injured veterans receive up to 90 per cent less than what they would through the courts or workers’ compensation as a result.

“Since the enactment of the New Veterans Charter (injured veterans) have been terminated in their employment and forced out of their income source as members in the Canadian Forces, have been unable to find meaningful employment and have been provided with a total financial compensation package ... that is insufficient to maintain a normal lifestyle for those of similar employment background in Canadian society,” the lawsuit claims.

The plaintiffs are seeking, among other things, declarations that the table of disabilities used to assess damages is of no force and effect and that the plaintiffs have been discriminated against contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They also seek to be paid the difference of the amount they received under the New Veterans Charter and what they would have received for similar injuries as assessed by the courts, plus damages and interest.

Veterans Affairs Canada spokeswoman Janice Summerby said the government will not comment on the lawsuit as it is before the courts.

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8682732 1 Veterans Class Action Pleading as Filed

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/metro/Veterans+seek+launch+class+action+lawsuit+over+injury/7472916/story.html#ixzz2AuGOlkIk

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Afghan veterans launch class-action bid against feds over disability payments

Port Moody’s Kevin Berry among group that says lump sum isn’t enough
 
By Susan Lazaruk, The Province October 30, 201

Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/Afghan+veterans+launch+class+action+against+feds+over+disability+payments/7473236/story.html#ixzz2AuHPPM3K



A B.C. soldier is among a group of Afghanistan war veterans who have filed a possible class-action lawsuit against the federal government, saying the new lump-sum disability payments aren’t enough to support them.

Kevin Berry, 29, of Port Moody, blew out both his knees while fighting in Afghanistan for seven months in late 2003 and early 2004.

He also suffered from the emotional effect of losing three fellow soldiers who were killed in action and witnessing the serious injuries of several others.

Berry suffered permanent damage to his knees after he continued serving and carrying heavy loads with braces on his knees, according to a statement of claim filed on his other soldiers’ behalf to force the government to compensate the injured veterans at the same level it did with vets of earlier wars.

Berry did receive a monthly pension of more than $600 a month for the knee injuries, according to the claim.

But he said in an interview on Tuesday that his 2009 claim for post-traumatic stress disorder was limited to a lump sum because of the New Veterans Charter that came into law in 2006.

“Had I been compensated under the old rules, I would have been eligible for $625,000 by age 79,” said Berry. “Under the current law, I was given $87,000 and told that was my compensation for life.

“I’ve been given less than 120 months of compensation and I’m being told that’s it for life.”

The B.C. Supreme Court lawsuit filed Tuesday claims the rules for disability payments in the New Veterans Charter violate their constitutional rights.

The lawsuit has yet to be classified as a class action.

Another of the soldiers suing the Attorney-General of Canada is Maj. Mark Douglas Campbell, who lost both of his legs in a bomb attack in June 2008, and Cpl. Bradley Darren Quast, who was severely injured in a December 2009 blast that killed four soldiers and Calgary journalist Michelle Lang.

Lawyer Don Sorochan says soldiers who go to war expect to be taken care of by the country they serve, and that is not happening.

The lawsuit says the new charter is a breach of the duty of care owed to injured soldiers, and it seeks damages as well as a declaration that the charter is discriminatory.

Earlier this month, Veterans Affairs ended a policy of clawing back benefit payments of disabled veterans after a Federal Court rejected the practice.

Berry said he and the other injured soldiers had no other option but to sue the government because all other options dealing with Veteran Affairs have been exhausted.

“It’s gutting, it’s horrible, it’s enraging,” said Berry of the fight to receive compensation for sacrifices the soldiers made fighting for Canada.

“We don’t want anything more than what was traditionally given to veterans of World War II and to Korean War vets,” he said of soldiers who were given lifelong pensions that increased when the soldiers married and had children, unlike the current pensions, which don’t.

slazaruk@theprovince.com
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Soldier injured in Afghanistan fought uphill battle for compensation
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 10:45:44 PM »
Soldier injured in Afghanistan fought uphill battle for compensation
 
By Tara Carman, Vancouver Sun October 31, 2012 8:40 PM

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Soldier+injured+Afghanistan+fought+uphill+battle+compensation/7479439/story.html#ixzz2AwKnEvY6


Daniel Scott was nearly killed during a training exercise in Afghanistan in 2010, when metal balls from a mine that exploded by mistake ripped through his chest, fracturing a rib, collapsing his left lung and damaging his kidney, spleen and pancreas.

The Surrey native, then 24, was airlifted to a field hospital in Kandahar, during which time a friend who was injured alongside him died as Scott held his hand. Surgeons removed Scott’s left kidney, his spleen and part of his pancreas, but he had lost so much blood the doctors didn’t hold out much hope, his father Jim Scott said.

“He was really on death’s door. In fact, at one point they came by our house with two pastors and … they were really prepared to say goodbye or do a death notification,” Scott said.

But Daniel Scott fought back and soon afterward his parents welcomed him home to Vancouver — 40 pounds lighter and significantly weaker, but alive.

Because of his injuries, the career paths he had hoped to pursue — either police work or outdoor guiding — were no longer options for him.

Scott found himself fighting a whole new kind of battle after he received a letter from Veterans Affairs assessing the award for his injuries at a little over $41,000, to be paid out as a lump sum.

His mother, who worked for an insurance company, knew that this amount paled in comparison to what he would have received through workers’ compensation.

When the family crunched the numbers, they calculated the $41,000 plus interest Scott received from the government worked out to about $140 a month for 25 years. Workers’ compensation would have paid about $1,400 a month until age 65 for the same injuries, Jim Scott said.

The Scotts soon learned that they were not the only family in this situation. Daniel Scott’s platoon had a higher-than-average casualty rate and many of his fellow soldiers also had their injuries assessed at what they felt were unfair levels, Jim Scott said. When they tried to challenge the assessments, they hit a bureaucratic brick wall, forced to navigate what Scott called a complicated and adversarial system.

“We found that they had got themselves into a very dark place in their lives, constantly fighting a bureaucracy that is non-responsive,” he explained. “For them to move on, they need to let this go and they’re not letting it go because they know fundamentally they’re right, but nobody will listen to them. So they’re up at 2 a.m. sending an email off to somebody who will never respond to it.”

Daniel Scott, who was unavailable for an interview Wednesday because he is out of the country, is one of the plaintiffs in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court Tuesday on behalf of veterans who were injured in Afghanistan.

They want the government to bring injury awards for veterans into line with what they would receive under workers’ compensation.

Before 2006, awards for injured veterans were administered as disability pensions under the Pension Act and were slightly more generous than workers’ compensation, Smith said. But the New Veterans Charter, which took effect that year, insured body parts rather than income, instituted lump-sum rather than long-term payments and capped the amount of compensation any one veteran could receive.

Furthermore, soldiers who had joined the Canadian Forces under the old regulations had no opportunity to opt out or be grandfathered in when the rules changed, Scott pointed out.

“We would like to see (the government) adjust the compensation program for veterans to be at par with workers’ compensation programs and if they’re intent on using lump-sum payments, that the lump-sum payments are consistent with what the courts would award,” Scott said.

The Scotts and like-minded families decided to pursue the issue through the courts, but had difficulty finding a law firm willing to take on the federal government pro bono, Scott said.

Miller Thomson agreed to do so on the condition that someone else pay the other costs associated with the lawsuit, such as medical exams and transport for the plaintiffs and court filing fees. Jim Scott and others established the Equitas Disabled Soldiers Funding Society last year to raise money in order to do so.

Most importantly for the plaintiffs, the lawsuit means the burden of challenging the federal government is off them and being borne primarily by the law firm, Scott said.

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs said Tuesday that it is inappropriate for the government to comment on a matter before the courts.

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Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/Soldier+injured+Afghanistan+fought+uphill+battle+compensation/7479439/story.html#ixzz2AwKvC3cs

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Tour of duty in Afghanistan left military vet haunted
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 10:47:22 PM »
Tour of duty in Afghanistan left military vet haunted

By Mario Bartel - Burnaby NewsLeader
Published: October 31, 2012 6:00 PM

http://www.burnabynewsleader.com/news/176684461.html


Kevin Berry skips rocks at Barnet Marine Park. The former St. Thomas More football player has endured years of night terrors and alcoholism after serving with the Canadian military in Afghanistan for six months. He's now part of a planned class action lawsuit by Canadian veterans to get better compensation for the physical and mental injuries they've suffered. He'll be talking about his experiences at a public presentation on Nov. 6 at St. Theresa Parish in Burnaby.

Local man part of class action suit against Ottawa on behalf of soldiers

Kevin Berry knew something wasn’t quite right in his head when he began having dreams of starting his jeep by smashing babies against the fender.

His colleagues in the 3rd Battalion on tour in Kabul, Afghanistan were experiencing similar disturbing imagery in their sleep, the side effect of anti-malarial drugs they had to ingest for six months and the stress and strain of running patrols in a country where many didn’t welcome their presence, and buried bombs in their path.

Sometimes they shared their tales of terror with each other. Often they snuffed them with alcohol. But never did they dare tell their superior officers.

That, they all feared, would be viewed as weakness, malingering.

It’s a stigma that follows soldiers even after they leave the battlefield, says Berry, who grew up in Burnaby.

When he returned to his base in Petawawa, Ont., from Afghanistan in February 2004, his mental health debrief consisted of a lecture in a hall filled with 300 fellow soldiers. After the psychologist asked if anyone had experienced nightmares or other mental issues nobody put up their hand.

Nobody, says Berry, wanted to be put on the “bus of shame” to Ottawa for further counseling.

Berry’s military career ended that September.

The dark, disturbing dreams didn’t.

Upon his return to British Columbia he started working as a guard for an armoured car company, hoping to eventually parlay that into a career as a police officer.

But he couldn’t move forward in his civilian life as his military experience continued to haunt him. He couldn’t focus.

He couldn’t sustain relationships. He couldn’t understand what had gone so terribly wrong.

Berry had embarked on his military career with the best intentions. A big, strapping kid who played on both the offensive and defensive lines for the St. Thomas More football team, he hoped to continue his family’s history of public service to their country; he had relatives who had gone into politics and attained high positions in the civil service.

Berry signed his military papers on his 17th birthday, turning his back on opportunities to play football at UBC or SFU. A few months after graduating from STM in 2001, he was on his way two CFB Petawawa for training. His second day of boot camp was Sept. 11.

That day’s terror attacks changed the direction of Canada’s military instantly. The era of blue helmets and keeping the peace was over.

Berry wasn’t phased.

“I was excited,” he says. “We’re not going to be suntanning in Bosnia anymore.”

From boot camp he was dispatched to battle school in Meaford, Ont. where he learned the basics of armed combat, field tactics and survival.

Alas, coping wasn’t on the curriculum.

Berry served in Afghanistan for six months, running “presence patrols” from a jeep in Kabul, providing security to engineering crews digging wells, and building schools. It was, he says, “just like the wild west.

“There was no easing into the situation.”

One memorable day, the city was rocked by 18 suicide bombings. During the course of his tour, three fellow Canadian soldiers were killed.

“It’s part of the job,” says Berry. “You prepare for it, but you’re not really prepared for it until it happens.”

On those tough days, Berry says the canteen would be particularly liberal putting out balms of the bottled variety, a solace that followed him and many other veterans into their civilian lives.

When his aspirations for a policing career careened off course, Berry got work as a doorman at nightclubs, hoping to progress his way into bar management. The job gave him easy access to alcohol.

For six years he took full advantage, often drinking himself into unconsciousness to turn off the nightly terrors.

“That’s the go-to self medication for a lot of guys,” says Berry. “I didn’t ask for help. I didn’t want that hanging over my head.”

It’s only when he found himself acting out a dream of hand-to-hand combat on his girlfriend lying next to him in bed that he realized he was bottoming out.

“I couldn’t pretend everything was okay anymore,” says Berry, who was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2010. “I caved. I went to Veterans Affairs.”

He wanted help. What he got instead was a cheque.

The New Veterans Charter that had been enacted by Parliament in 2006 did away with long term pension and support programs for disabled veterans. Instead, they’d get a one-time payment, leaving it to the disabled veterans to use that money to get the help they needed. For most, that money was considerably less than they’d earn with a pension.

“I felt abandoned, betrayed, hopeless, gutted,” says Berry, who used his money to pay off some debts instead of getting counseling. “I lost the will to live a lot of days.”

Hurt and angered, he started to focus his energy on righting that wrong. He reached out in online support networks. He wrote letters and articles. He advocated for veterans in similar situations. He joined the Equitas Society, a B.C. based group fighting for better disability benefits for injured soldiers.

On Tuesday, the group filed a class action law suit in B.C. Supreme Court alleging the Canadian government discriminates against its soldiers financially, violating their constitutional rights.

It’s a fight that last week received some unexpected support from Canada’s Auditor-General, who criticized the Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs for failing to ensure all former military personnel receive proper follow-up and care after their careers.

Sober now for 18 months, Berry is on the long road to changing the system from the inside. He’s studying history part time at Simon Fraser University with a long term hope to perhaps some day enter politics.

“I’m always going to be a soldier,” he says. “But to be told there’s no help. I’ve already made sacrifices; how much more do you want me to give?”

Kevin Berry will be telling his story, and sharing his thoughts about Canada’s support for its disabled veterans at a public talk Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m. at St. Theresa Parish, 5146 Laurel St. in Burnaby. The presentation will be followed by an open discussion and refreshments.

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Editorial: Canada shouldn’t be cheap with disabled soldiers
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 01:02:41 AM »
Editorial: Canada shouldn’t be cheap with disabled soldiers

October 31, 2012. 2:28 pm • Section: Opinion

http://blogs.theprovince.com/2012/10/31/editorial-canada-should-be-cheap-with-disabled-soldiers/


Afghanistan combat veteran Kevin Berry of Port Moody says the nation has broken its trust with veterans by limiting disability payments for permanent disabilities military personnel have received while serving Canada. (Glenn Baglo / PNG FILES)

It’s appalling that Canadian veterans who received permanent injuries while serving our country are being forced to sue Ottawa to receive the same disability payments of wounded soldiers from earlier generations.

Port Moody resident Kevin Berry, who suffered permanent knee injuries and post-traumatic stress from his tour in Afghanistan, is one example, but there are hundreds.

Under the 2006 Veterans Charter, Berry and other injured former soldiers receive one-time, minimal payouts instead of the more generous pensions received by wounded warriors from previous wars. That’s not right.

The Harper government is putting a lot of energy these days into reminding Canadians of this country’s military past, something many people feel proud about. The recent television ads about the War of 1812 are but one example.

Veterans, more than anyone, tell us that there is little to no glory in war. Their attendance at Remembrance Day services, including the ones coming up in a few days, are not to glorify war, but to honour and remember fallen comrades and to support brothers — and sisters — in arms who survived.

The least this country can do if it sends a young person to war and they receive a permanent injury is to compensate them adequately, as we have in the past. The Veterans Charter needs to be reviewed. We shouldn’t cheap out with people to whom we owe so much.

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Valiant vets deserve better
« Reply #11 on: November 01, 2012, 01:04:35 AM »
Valiant vets deserve better

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 8:33:24 EDT PM

http://www.saultstar.com/2012/10/31/valiant-vets-deserve-better


Scarborough East Councillor Paul Ainslie will ask his colleagues on the executive committee Tuesday to support his bid for war veterans to get free parking in City of Toronto Green P lots and at on-street meters.

As yet another Remembrance Day approaches, it seems unfathomable that a group of severely-maimed veterans of Afghanistan are forced to sue our government for being treated like yesterday's news.

It should not be necessary, but it is.

The class-action lawsuit, filed Tuesday in B.C., claims the already controversial lump sum doled out to wounded soldiers by Veterans Affairs falls drastically short of ensuring they can meet the needs of their compromised lives.

Maj. Mark Campbell, for example, a 32-year military veteran who served in Cyprus, Bosnia and Afghanistan, lost both legs in 2008 during a Taliban ambush and IED explosion.

While it should come as no surprise that he is now battling depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, it should shock all Canadians that his future is so dire from his disability that his life will be lived in the red unless Ottawa pays a fair price for the sacrifices he made.

"(Mark Campbell) is incapable of earning a gainful income and will most certainly suffer financial distress in the future as family needs far exceed their reduced means," the lawsuit contends.

Is this what we want to hear as Remembrance Day draws near? Or on any day, for that matter?

This, of course, is not first lawsuit launched over the New Veterans Charter, passed with the unanimous consent of Parliament in 2006.

Earlier this month, a red-faced Veterans Affairs ended a policy of clawing back benefit payments of disabled veterans after a Federal Court gave it proper hell.

We condemned that clawback when it first came to light, and we condemn today the need for our wounded heroes to sue Ottawa for fair treatment.

And what about the poorest of our dying veterans of the Second World War and Korea who cannot get a proper burial unless funeral home directors supplement the costs?

The estates of current members of the Canadian armed forces, and the RCMP, are awarded $12,700 towards funeral costs, but not the fragile vets who have precious little time left in their valiant lives.

Their deaths, apparently, are worth only $3,600.

Our message to Veterans Affairs?

Show some respect, honour the sacrifice, and pay what is needed.

Lest you have already forgotten.


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CKNW AM 980 with Kevin Berry Equitas
« Reply #12 on: November 01, 2012, 03:04:30 AM »
Kevin Berry

Hi friends, to hear the interviews on the Class-Action Lawsuit from today, please go to October 31st at 1pm, then drag the cursor over to 6 minutes. I speak until 16 min in, then adverts, then Don Sorochan speaks from 20.00-27.25 minutes.

The second interview is at 5pm, and then drag the cursor over to minute 36.00. The comments and commentary at 46:00 honestly brought a tear to my eye. Thank you so much for getting the story out CKNW.

http://www.cknw.com/news/audiovault/index.aspx


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The battle over there, at home and within
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2012, 08:00:21 AM »
The battle over there, at home and within

By Brent Richter, The Record November 2, 2012 3:02 AM

Read more: http://www.royalcityrecord.com/health/battle+over+there+home+within/7487607/story.html#ixzz2B4Qx2ekD

As a young man in 2001, Kevin Berry faced a bright future, with several universities offering football scholarships. Instead, inspired by a sense of honour and duty, he chose to serve his country.

Now he suffers the wounds of war hidden inside his mind and faces a new battle with the government that sent him to Afghanistan.

No sooner had his training begun when a world-changing event occurred, setting into motion events that would leave him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Sept. 11 was my second day of basic training," he said. "We knew that Afghanistan was on the horizon."

Berry and the Third Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment landed in Kabul on Aug. 10, 2003 and went to work doing patrols of the city, giving him the sense of duty he had been looking for.

"I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly the job I wanted to do. I felt that I was achieving my purpose of being on this planet. I was doing good," he said.

They had a "robust tempo" of heading out into the city to maintain security and engage Taliban fighters during his six-month tour of duty. Despite never getting into a firefight, six months of close calls took its toll on Berry, as it did many soldiers. Several incidents along the way stand out for Berry as the genesis of his disorder.

"I was on point, as machine gunners usually are, and this kid popped out in front of me maybe 20 metres down the alleyway. I could see right away he had a mortar bomb in his hands, and he came running right at me, screaming," Berry said. "I cocked my weapon, brought it up, screamed 'away!' The kid stopped, terrified, wide-eyed. I'm almost sure he's going to blow up if I f-----g shoot him or if he gets any closer."

The interpreter told the boy to put the mortar down and back away. When it was determined the bomb was a dud, the boy spoke up.

"He said, 'I thought you were the good guys and I found this in my yard, digging so I wanted to give it to you.' That messed with my mind a lot," he said. "I thought I was going to die and everybody behind me was going to be badly wounded."

Berry scoffed when asked if there was help available to him at the base after the incident.

"You don't talk about stuff like that in the military culture," he said, adding that it would be treated like a joke afterward.

"My psychological briefing when I got home was 300 of us in a base at Petawawa, with some psychologist . who said, 'Do any of you experience any of these symptoms?' Do you think anybody put up their hands?"

It would have been obvious to anyone looking from the outside that Berry, and many of his fellow soldiers, were deeply injured.

"It was a horror show at night. We're all screaming, guys falling out of bed, and it was like that for weeks after we got back," he said.

"I was surprised because nothing really that bad happened compared to some of these other tours where they lost 20-plus guys. The problem is, they told us to expect five guys a week," he said.

Berry lost three friends to roadside bombs during his tour and several have committed suicide since, something he never understood until coming home.

"Until you've been down the road of PTSD, depression and addiction, you're not fit to judge," he said.

Berry chose to not sign a new contract with the military and came home a few months later in September 2004.

Once back, Berry decided he wanted a career in policing and started taking classes at Douglas College and working in bars at night. But there were signs things weren't quite right, he said. He was living in a constant, hyper-vigilant, paranoid state.

Once, while out for walk with his mom in a Burnaby park, she reached for a soccer ball left on the field, and Berry reacted in a disconcerting way,

"It wasn't even a thought. I just grabbed her, wrenched her back as hard as I can, and said, 'You don't know who put that there or what's underneath it,'" he said.

Soon after, driving down Deer Lake Parkway, Berry saw an abandoned suitcase at the side of the road and reacted by dangerously turning 90 degrees and driving away.

He also turned to heavy use of drugs and alcohol - the only things that would allow him to sleep without a reoccurring nightmare about the night he was separated from his patrol in Kabul.

"I was on my own for about 10 minutes. The Taliban, at the time, had a $25,000bounty on any captured NATO solider, dead or alive. All the people in town knew that," he said.

At the suggestion his psychology professor, Berry sought help for his disorder.

A NEW BATTLE BEGINS

By the time he was diagnosed with the disorder and applied for benefits, the federal government had quietly changed the legislation that governs soldiers' pensions. Replacing the Pension Act of 1919 with the New Veterans Charter in 2006, soldiers were then only entitled to a fraction of the financial help.

Instead of a lifetime, indexed, tax-free pension, soldiers would receive a lump-sum payment, determined by the extent to which they were injured, and the benefits were drastically less than veterans of previous wars received.

"We're talking 40 to 90 per cent less," he said. "That, to me, doesn't sting as much as the fact that the government has walked away from the lifetime obligation they have to soldiers that are wounded serving the country."

Ironically, the payments are even lower than what they would be under a civilian workers' compensation plan in any Canadian province.

The amount he collects is just north of the poverty line, and he is essentially crippled, he said.

"I can't work again. I'm not going to be able to hold a job in any of the fields I've been trained in. I'm not necessarily going to be able to have a family. I'm not going to be necessarily able to provide for a family in the way that I could have before."

Berry is now paying out of pocket to be a part-time student at Simon Fraser University, where he is majoring in history, as the Veterans Affairs Canada will not pay for anything but trade school. He feels even worse for his comrades who have come home in worse shape, with even fewer prospects.

"What are they supposed to do? Sit on their $40,000 a year and drink themselves to death? Because that's what a lot of them are doing," he said.

Despite treatment, which has helped, and getting off drugs and alcohol, Berry still has regular nightmares, panic attacks, agoraphobia, intense paranoia and he lives with the constant expectation he will die an early and violent death.

Yet he remains committed to seeing the New Veterans Charter thrown out.

Berry and several other B.C. veterans are expecting to serve the government with a class action lawsuit this week, alleging the New Veterans Charter is a violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

By creating essentially two classes of veterans, Berry and his comrades will argue the government has violated Section 15 of the charter, which states that every individual is "equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination."

"The New Veterans Charter is an absolute abomination. It's a betrayal of everything this country stands for, in my view," he said. "We had one system from 1919 to 2006 that served veterans from the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, Cypress, Bosnia and Afghanistan up until 2006. Why would you turn it on its head, gut it by up to 90 per cent and then tell anyone that's challenging it that they're over entitled?"

Vancouver law firm Miller Thomson has taken on their case pro bono.

Berry is also the local team leader for Canadian Veterans Advocacy, a group dedicated to raising awareness of veterans' issues and lobbying the government for change.

The one good thing to come from the suffering of Afghanistan's veterans is that PTSD is "out of the closet" in the military, and the discussion is no longer hushed up.

Berry is scheduled to give a talk about his experiences and his current fight on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at 7: 30 p.m. at St. Theresa Parish at 5146 Laurel St. in Burnaby.

His presentation will be followed by discussion and refreshments. For more information on the event, contact 604-299-2532.

editorial@royalcityrecord.com
© Copyright (c) New West Record

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The battle continues at home
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2012, 03:50:15 PM »
The battle continues at home
 
Local veteran speaks out about his experiences
 
By Brent Richter, Burnaby Now November 2, 2012

Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/battle+continues+home/7488292/story.html#ixzz2B6LC9nds



As a young man in 2001, Kevin Berry faced a bright future, with several universities offering football scholarships. Instead, inspired by a sense of honour and duty, he chose to serve his country.

Now he suffers the wounds of war hidden inside his mind, and faces a new battle with the government that sent him to Afghanistan.

No sooner had his training begun when a world-changing event occurred, setting into motion events that would leave him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"Sept. 11 was my second day of basic training," he said. "We knew that Afghanistan was on the horizon."

Berry and the Thirdrd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment landed in Kabul on Aug. 10, 2003 and went to work doing patrols of the city, giving him the sense of duty he had been looking for.

"I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly the job I wanted to do. I felt that I was achieving my purpose of being on this planet. I was doing good," he said.

They had a "robust tempo" of heading out into the city to maintain security and engage Taliban fighters during his six-month tour of duty. Despite never getting into a firefight, six months of close calls took its toll on Berry, as it did many soldiers. Several incidents along the way stand out for Berry as the genesis of his disorder.

"I was on point, as machine gunners usually are, and this kid popped out in front of me maybe 20 metres down the alleyway. I could see right away he had a mortar bomb in his hands, and he came running right at me, screaming," Berry said. "I cocked my weapon, brought it up, screamed 'away!' The kid stopped, terrified, wide-eyed. I'm almost sure he's going to blow up if I f---ing shoot him or if he gets any closer."

The interpreter told the boy to put the mortar down and back away. When it was determined the bomb was a dud, the boy spoke up.

"He said, 'I thought you were the good guys and I found this in my yard, digging so I wanted to give it to you.' That messed with my mind a lot," Berry said. "I thought I was going to die and everybody behind me was going to be badly wounded."

Berry scoffed when asked if there was help available to him at the base after the incident.

"You don't talk about stuff like that in the military culture," he said, adding that it would be treated like a joke afterward.
© Copyright (c) Burnaby Now

Read more: http://www.burnabynow.com/battle+continues+home/7488292/story.html#ixzz2B6LK4QUF