Intravenously Administered Ketamine Shown to Reduce Symptoms of Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Intravenously Administered Ketamine Shown to Reduce Symptoms of Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1855930#ixzz2z5sOA8i0

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 16, 2014

For the first time, evidence that a single dose of IV-administered ketamine was associated with the rapid reduction of symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in patients with chronic PTSD was demonstrated in a proof-of-concept, randomized, double blind crossover study, undertaken by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. These findings, according to Mount Sinai researchers, could be the first step toward developing new interventions for PTSD.

The original investigation, titled “Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – A Randomized Clinical Trial,” was first published online in JAMA Psychiatry on April 16.

“These findings may lead to novel approaches in the treatment of chronic PTSD – a condition that affects a broad spectrum of adults in the United States and beyond, including victims of sexual assault, war veterans, those who have witnessed catastrophic events such as the September 11 terror attacks, and others,” said Adriana Feder, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the lead author of the study. “However, this should be viewed as a proof of concept study. Additionally, longer term clinical trials with ketamine will be required to determine if ketamine will be a clinically useful treatment for PTSD.”

Previously, few pharmacotherapies, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors — both of which are associated with significant levels of nonresponse and persistent residual symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder – have been shown to be effective in the treatment of chronic PTSD. However, these treatments were not shown to have the same rapid effects on symptoms of PTSD as IV-administered ketamine, which emerged as an effective, quick-acting intervention for patients with treatment-resistant depression when administered at sub-anesthetic doses (0.5 mg / kg).

Ketamine is used for anesthesia at doses of 2 mg/kg or higher, and as an analgesic (painkiller) at subanesthetic doses. It is considered particularly safe because, unlike other anesthetics, ketamine reliably preserves breathing reflexes. According to Mount Sinai’s researchers, there have been no randomized clinical trials examining the effects of ketamine in patients with chronic PTSD; the few previous studies that have examined the effects of ketamine in trauma-exposed individuals were either retrospective or non-randomized.

“In recent years, we and others have shown that ketamine could often counter the symptoms of depression in treatment-resistant cases. In the present study, we hypothesized that ketamine would be associated with significantly greater reduction in core PTSD symptom levels 24 hours after a single IV infusion, and that it would also improve co-morbid depressive symptoms in patients diagnosed with PTSD,” said Dennis Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System, and principal investigator. “This study has borne out that hypothesis, and we hope the results soon will be replicated and extended by other researchers.”

Study Methodology
Patients with chronic PTSD were enrolled in this study at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai between May, 2012 and December 2012. Eligible participants were between 18 and 55 years of age; had a primary diagnosis of PTSD; and a score of at least 50 on the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Study participants were free of concomitant psychotropic medications for two weeks prior to randomization and for the duration of the study.

For each procedure day, patients were assigned to receive a single IV infusion of ketamine hydrochloride or midazolam administered over 40 minutes. The order of infusions was randomly assigned, and administrations were made two weeks apart. Midazolam was chosen as the active placebo because its pharmacokinetic parameters and nonspecific behavioral effects are similar to those of ketamine.

Administered ratings were administered at pre-infusion baseline and 24 hours (day 1) after infusion (before patients were discharged from the hospital), 48 hours (day 2) after infusion, 72 hours (day 3) after infusion, and seven days day 7) after infusion.

The primary outcome was PTSD symptom severity 24 hours after infusion, assessed with the Impact of Event Scale–Revised (IES–R). Total IES-R scores 24 hours after infusion were significantly improved with ketamine compared with midazolam (mean difference, 12.7 [95% CI, 2.5-22.8]; P = .02). There was no evidence of any period or residual effects for the crossover. Additionally, symptoms in seven patients randomly assigned to ketamine first remained significantly reduced two weeks after infusion, compared with only one patient randomly assigned to midazolam first.

Dr. Charney and Dr. Feder of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have been named as inventors on a patent application covering the use of ketamine for the treatment of PTSD. Dr. Charney, Dr. Feder and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai could potentially benefit from the results of this study.

This study was funded by grant W81XWH-08-1-0602 from the Department of the Army – US Navy Medical Research Acquisition Activity; Dr. Charney is the Principal Investigator. This study’s ClinicalTrials.gov identifier is NCT00749203.

About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven member hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services–from community?based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,600 primary and specialty care physicians, 12?minority?owned free?standing ambulatory surgery centers, over 45 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, and Long Island, as well as 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health funding and by U.S. News & World Report.

For more information, visit http://www.mountsinai.org, or find Mount Sinai on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Thursday, April 16, 2014
Contact: Sid Dinsay
Mount Sinai Press Office
(212) 241?9200
NewsMedia(at)mssm(dot)edu

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11771856.htm

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1855930#ixzz2z5sV9HHD

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The Social Contract – Crisis in the Military

The Social Contract

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwyapnWLai0

Crisis in the Military

http://globalnews.ca/invisible-wounds/1257394/invisible-wounds/

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Closed Veterans Affairs offices tiny part of budget

Closed Veterans Affairs offices tiny part of budget

PAUL McLEOD OTTAWA BUREAU
Published April 14, 2014 – 8:40pm
Last Updated April 15, 2014 – 12:27am

http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1200517-closed-veterans-affairs-offices-tiny-part-of-budget

Eight regional offices that were closed by Veterans Affairs cost just one-seventh of one per cent of the department’s budget.

The combined operating budget for the eight offices across the country was $5.3 million in 2012-13, according to information tabled in the House of Commons.

The department spent $3.5billion in that fiscal year. On top of that, $173 million of funds authorized by Parliament went unspent.

In the past year, Ottawa has inked more contracts for media monitoring services — almost $11 million — than the combined budget for the regional offices.

The cost of the regional offices was also less than the $18.6 million spent the same year on outside companies for business services. This included $10 million to one company, WCG International Consultants of Victoria.

Veterans Affairs spent almost half the cost of the regional offices — $2.3 million — in one advertising buy March 25.

The federal government also spent $3 million over five years to develop mobile phone apps, according to a Global News story.

The regional offices were closed in February. The most expensive was the Sydney office, with an operating budget of just over $1 million.

It’s not clear how much of that cost the government will recoup from the closure as some employees were moved to other offices.

“In the end, I don’t think they’ve saved much money at all,” said NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer.

The closures led to protests in Cape Breton and other areas, and became a front-burner issue in the House of Commons.

The federal government says that by moving services online and having them handled by Service Canada it saves money while also making services more convenient and widespread.

Activists and opposition MPs argued veterans will have a harder time receiving services.

Stoffer, the MP for Sackville-Eastern Shore, said his office has received 47 complaints from veterans since the closures. He said he received one positive review from someone who asked Service Canada for the toll-free number for Veterans Affairs.

Stoffer said he’s amazed the government went through a major political headache for such a small amount of money.

“I thought the figure would be much higher,” he said of the office budgets.

The office of Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino could not be reached for comment Monday.

Other than Sydney, the regional offices closed this year were in Charlottetown, Corner Brook, Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Kelowna, B.C., Windsor, Ont., and Brandon, Man. The least expensive office was in Brandon, with an operating budget of $157,000.

An office in Prince George, B.C., was closed late last year. The government said it could not provide figures on that office because they are within the department’s larger budget for the British Columbia interior.

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Veterans bang heads against Parliamentary, bureaucratic wall

Veterans bang heads against Parliamentary, bureaucratic wall

The government is clearly not holding up its end of the bargain on veterans.

http://www.hilltimes.com/opinion-piece/2014/04/14/veterans-bang-heads-against-parliamentary-bureaucratic-wall/38146


The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright

Veterans pictured last year in Ottawa on Remembrance Day. Sean Bruyea says MPs have never debated or given serious independent and binding consideration of the dramatic changes that the NVC made to the relationship between Canada and those who were and are prepared to lay down their lives in her service.

By SEAN BRUYEA

Published: Monday, 04/14/2014- THE HILL TIMES

The hue and cry from veterans and their families has not dimmed but grown stronger since 2005 when Parliament passed the legislation we now know as the ‘New Veterans Charter’ or NVC. Will Parliament take up veterans’ torch and finally make bureaucracy work for veterans? As the unaddressed recommendations accumulate, will the NVC become increasingly unfit to provide adequate shelter for our veterans and their families in the coming years?

Last week, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs wrapped up hearings on the NVC. We must remember that elected Members of the House of Commons have never debated nor given serious independent and binding consideration of the dramatic changes that the NVC made to the relationship between Canada and those who were and are prepared to lay down their lives in her service.

In good faith, far too many accepted the shoddy construction of the NVC because government promised to keep the renovations going. Near stagnant ‘incrementalism,’ a dirty word in the first 50 years of veterans’ benefits in Canada, has become the sad new social contract between Canada and, our veterans and their families.

Veterans Affairs Canada made pretenses to the glory of Canada’s post World War II veterans’ benefits. The original aptly-named Veterans Charter provided a host of programs for all veterans, whether injured or not. The NVC is not a charter at all but a cynical repackaging of already existing programs with few limited additions.

It took four years before the Veterans Affairs Committee wrote its first report in 2010 with 18 recommendations. Four years later, we are at it yet again with witnesses fighting to implement many of the same recommendations such as boosting the income loss program to 100 per cent matching projected career earnings, not just a fraction of true inflation as is now the case.

Bureaucrats claim to have implemented 10 recommendations from the Parliamentary report, including “ VAC ensures that family members who take care of severely disabled Veterans are compensated appropriately.” VAC’s basis for this claim: the Forces have a “Canadian Armed Forces Attendant Care Benefit.” Perhaps being so far away in Charlottetown, VAC senior bureaucrats do not realize veterans are ineligible for CF benefits. Misleading justification is repeated in most of the 160 recommendations that VAC claims to have implemented.

Canadians go to war, fight, die, lose limbs, minds and families, all at Parliament’s orders, for our values, our nation. They sacrifice for all Canadians. The military does not do all of this for bureaucrats even though bureaucrats may think differently. Then, why is it that Parliament, through either inaction or inability, has failed to stand up to the bureaucracy?

There are greater problems with the NVC than just the empty and specious rhetoric coming from Charlottetown. I tabled 30 recommendations for this Parliamentary review in a report titled, “Severely Injured Veterans and Their Families: Improving Accessibility To Veterans Affairs Programs For A Better Transition.”

As both sides of the committee table observed during witness testimony, at Veterans Affairs Canada, availability of programs does not equate to accessibility. Why for instance should widows or spouses of incapacitated veterans be time-limited on any program?
In legislation which pre-dated the NVC, the Pension Act, all programs were payable effectively on date of application. The NVC income loss program is payable when “the minister determines that a rehabilitation plan or a vocational assistance plan should be developed.” Application for review of any decision must be made within 60 days of VAC’s decision. The Pension Act did not place time limits on review.

Such pettiness is endemic in the New Veterans Charter.

Government is quick to march out the hypothetical 24-year-old corporal from the veterans’ ombudsman report who is projected to receive $2-million from VAC over his lifetime. Ignoring that $340,000 must be repaid in taxes, when none of the Pension Act benefits are taxable, this corporal represents fewer than 77 individuals, or 0.1 per cent of Canadian Forces VAC clients.

The veterans’ ombudsman noted of all the recipients of the permanent incapacity allowance, only one receives the highest grade of $1,724.65 monthly. As for the highly controversial lump sum which now stands at $301,275.26, only 148, or 0.35 per cent of all lump sum recipients have been awarded this amount in eight years. Currently, only two per cent of the 42,000 lump sum recipients have any long term economic assistance.

Contrary to VAC’s claims, the NVC does not offer opportunity with security. Canada Pension Plan disability, once accused of being insensitive and lacking compassion now allows disabled recipients to earn up to $5,100 annually without reporting this to CPP. The VAC extended income loss program deducts 100 per cent of earnings. Troublingly, the most seriously ill veterans are also not supported to pursue education.

VAC derogatorily and deceptively claims veterans were focused on disability not ability under the pre-NVC system. However, the Pension Act guarantees, “no deduction shall be made from the pension of any member of the forces because the member undertook work or perfected themself in some form of industry.” The Pension Act offered much security for the veteran to explore opportunities. Sadly, the NVC incarcerates our most suffering veterans in a lifelong psychological and financial prison of frozen human potential.

Would it not be better to provide access to life-enriching education and opportunities to seek employment without penalty while these veterans in turn begin to pay more taxes, hence offsetting some of their disability costs? Does that not make better economic sense?

All veterans and their families especially the most seriously ill, fulfilled their obligation at government’s orders without delay, without complaint, without excuse. All they rightly expected was that government honour its end of the contract immediately, expeditiously and for as long as those veterans and their families live.

For our most seriously injured veterans and their families, miserly constructed and administered programs have soundly violated this quid pro quo. Government is clearly not holding up its end of the bargain.

This dire situation wherein even the most loyal and timid of veterans organizations speak out is a very loud alarm clock for our elected officials to stand up to the bureaucracy and stand up for our veterans once and for all.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues. For Sean’s report and testimony visit www.seanbruyea.com
news@hilltimes.com
The Hill Times

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Canadian soldier suicides poorly tracked, veterans groups say

Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs do not not track suicides by retired soldiers

By Andre Mayer, CBC News Posted: Mar 24, 2014 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 24, 2014 5:00 AM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/canadian-soldier-suicides-poorly-tracked-veterans-groups-say-1.2580500

The recent deaths of two Canadian soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have renewed public debate about how to deal with military suicides. But veterans advocates say that the data collected by the Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada on how many active and retired army personnel have committed suicide is incomplete, and makes it difficult to help soldiers who may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“If you don’t have all the data, then how are you able to determine the causes and address some of the trends?” says Bruce Poulin, communications manager for Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion in Ottawa.

Canada’s Department of National Defence (DND) has confirmed that two soldiers died in the past week.

Corporal Alain Lacasse, 43, of Valcartier, Que., was found dead in his home on March 17. Police said it was a suicide.

Master Cpl. Tyson Washburn, 37, of Pembroke, Ont., was found dead on March 15. Officials aren’t releasing details about his death, but CBC News has learned Washburn appears to have taken his own life.

There has been a spate of soldier suicides in recent months, including three in the span of three days in November.

Three more soldiers died in January. On Jan. 3, Cpl. Adam Eckhardt, a native of Trenton, Ont. who was based with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry at CFB Suffield in Alberta, was found dead.

On Jan. 8, Cpl. Camilo Sanhueza-Martinez, a member of The Princess of Wales’ Own Regiment based in Kingston, Ont., who had fought in Afghanistan, was found dead.

On Jan. 16, Lt.-Col. Stephane Beauchemin, a 22-year veteran who had been deployed to Haiti and Bosnia, died in Limoges, Ont, a small town east of Ottawa.

The deaths of Master Cpl. Washburn and Cpl. Lacasse bring the number of confirmed suicides of Canadian soldiers in 2014 to five.

The difficulty of getting accurate numbers

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has published figures on soldier suicides up to and including 2012. The numbers show there were 10 suicides in 2012, 21 in 2011 and 12 in 2010.

Poulin says the figures published by the CAF are incomplete, because they only look at men currently serving in the forces and do not include army reservists, those who have retired from the military, or women.

According to the CAF website, “the low number of suicides amongst female CAF members makes the statistical analysis of female rates unreliable.”

The CAF has not published numbers for 2013, but according to Nicole Meszaros, a senior public affairs officer for the Canadian Armed Forces, “in the calendar year 2013, the CAF lost nine members to suicide and another four members whose deaths are under investigation but remain to be officially confirmed as suicide.”

Of the nine confirmed suicides in 2013 cited by Meszaros, one was a woman and three were reservists. Those numbers do not include veterans no longer serving in the military.

A ‘disingenuous’ comparison

The published CAF figures show that over the period of 2005-2009, the suicide rate was 18 deaths per 100,000. This rate is comparable to that for males in the civilian population. According to Statistics Canada figures from 2009, the suicide rate for Canadian males was 17.3.

Poulin says that historically, the official suicide rate for serving soldiers is about 20 for every 100,000 but adds that it’s not a complete picture of what’s happening.

“By not counting women, reservists and those that leave the military, you’re still looking at 20,” says Poulin. “The question then becomes, OK, but is that an accurate reflection of PTSD and the situation that we are facing right now?”

A 2013 report published by the Department of National Defence found that suicide rates in the CAF have not increased over time, and after age standardization, were lower than those in the Canadian civilian population.

That comparison is “disingenuous,” says Michael Blais, CEO and director of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

“These men and women are not like those in the [civilian] population,” says Blais. He points out that soldiers are recruited for their mental toughness, and that anything that might trigger a suicide was “not a pre-existing condition – it’s a wound.”

“To compare a wound that was sustained in a military environment to the [psychological difficulties of someone in the] civilian population, that doesn’t cut it,” he says.

‘Veterans Affairs has an obligation’

While he takes issue with the suicide figures presented by CAF, Blais says it’s equally concerning that there is no data on the number of veterans who commit suicide after leaving the military.

“We have people who are getting out [of service], and within a year, committing suicide,” says Blais. “So many times, you find out about a suicide literally months after it’s happened.”

The Canadian Armed Forces does not keep track of suicides by retired soldiers, and Blais says neither does Veterans Affairs. CBC made several interview requests to Veterans Affairs, but did not receive a comment.

Blais says that the lack of documentation of suicide among retired veterans hinders efforts to get a proper handle on the scope of PTSD.

“Veterans Affairs has an obligation – we can’t fix this unless we know what’s wrong,” he says.

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Updated Windsor veteran takes on role of Veterans Affairs

Updated Windsor veteran takes on role of Veterans Affairs

Afghanistan veteran Bruce Moncur forms Veterans Association of Canada after VAC offices close

CBC News Posted: Mar 19, 2014 8:38 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 19, 2014 1:31 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/windsor-veteran-takes-on-role-of-veterans-affairs-1.2578283

Afghanistan veteran Bruce Moncur is taking on new role to help those who have returned from combat.

He’s one of the founding members of the Afghanistan Veterans Association of Canada.

It’s designed as a replacement for Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) after it pulled out of eight cities across the country.

Moncur said his own experiences give him the expertise to help others in similar situations.

"This association is going to be a way for veterans to get the services they need," he said. "My own pension struggles have been going on for a decade. Someone who is lost or hopeless or doesn’t know what to do can come to me and I can lead them in the right direction."

The idea for the association stemmed from several meetings with Windsor-Tecumseh NDP MP Joe Comartin.

"Mr. Comartin … was helping me on my personal case and we started talking about the closure of the office, how swamped the legion is," Moncur told CBC Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette. "Some of the people are going to start coming to him now that the VAC office is closed."

Comartin suggested Moncur should get on board as a staffer and start the association.

"Essentially, I’m going to be taking on the role of Veterans Affairs," said Moncur, who will be working part time out of an office supplied by UNIFOR at one of the branches.

‘This association is going to be a way for veterans to get the services they need.’- Bruce Moncur, Afghanistan veteran

When asked about the political ties, Moncur said, "I’ll let the knights, rooks and the king move me around any way they want as long as the help gets where it’s needed most. That’s the big issue here."

Conservative Essex MP Jeff Watson is critical.

"I’m not sure whether he’s being hired as a staffer, which is entirely legitimate on behalf of veterans," he said. "If we’re talking about setting up an organization in an MP’s office that may be a different question. Obviously, we want to do the most we can to serve veterans."

Moncur referred to recent soldier suicides as an "epidemic" and said he knew many soldiers personally who have returned from combat and need the help.

Watson said he has completed an eight-month study of the role of Veterans Affairs in Windsor.

"I’m convinced there are no service gaps created with the merger into the Service Canada network," he said. "I can say that definitively."
Meeting with Jeff Watson

Watson and Erin O’Toole, the Member of Parliament for Durham, have invited Canadian Armed Forces veterans to meet with them at the Legion Hall in Windsor Thursday morning.

"We hope they can hear a few of our concerns we’ve had since the closings and maybe opens up more communication between us and the government," said Moncur.

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Get yourself heard at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the review Statutory Review of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act – Faites-vous entendre au Comité permanent des anciens combattants sur l’examen de la nouvelle Chartre des anciens combattants

**Get yourself heard at the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs on the review Statutory Review of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act**

**Faites-vous entendre au Comité permanent des anciens combattants sur l’examen de la nouvelle Chartre des anciens combattants**

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy is appearing, March 27th, in front of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (ACVA) who is studying the Statutory Review of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act. CVA is asking soldiers, veterans, families and supporters to provide a written statement on your experience, impression and problems you are seeing with the NVC. It’s your opportunity to voice your concern formally to the committee. Provide a statement, addressed to Mr Greg Kerr, by email to veteran_advocate@canadianveteransadvocacy.com with subject: Statutory Review of the Enhanced New Veterans Charter Act and this by March 25th. We will deposit your testimony at the committee.

Le 27 mars prochain, Groupe de défense des intérêts des anciens combattants canadiens, Canadian Veteran Advocacy, témoignera au Comité permanent des anciens combattants (ACVA) dans le cadre de ses travaux sur l’examen de la nouvelle Chartre des anciens combattants (NCAC). Profitez de cette opportunité de vous faire entendre aux membres du comité. Que vous soyez un(e) militaire, un vétéran, un membre de leurs familles ou un supporteur de la cause, faites-nous part de vos constats, de vos expériences et vos impressions de la NCAC. Joignons nos voix. Faites-vous entendre. Fournir une déclaration, adressée à M. Greg Kerr, par courriel à veteran_advocate@canadianveteransadvocacy.com avec le sujet: Examen prévu par la loi de la Loi améliorant la Nouvelle Charte des anciens combattants et ce pour le 25 Mars. Nous allons déposer votre témoignage devant le comité.

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Summary of Articles worthwhile to read….

Karygiannis Calls on Harper Conservatives to ?Walk-the-Walk? With Respect to Veterans? Lawsuit
http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=12799.msg13859#msg13859

NDP CHALLENGES THE ABSENCE OF SOCIAL CONTRACT BETWEEN VETERANS AND CONSERVATIVE GOVERNMENT
http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=12765.msg13858;topicseen#msg13858

Julian Fantino Says He Remains Committed To Improving The New Veterans Charter
http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=12797.msg13855;topicseen#msg13855

Veteran support: the hardest battle?
http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=12794.msg13852;topicseen#msg13852

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.

Conservatives Wrong To Claim Federal Government Has No Social Contract With Canadian Forces Members, Says NDP’s Stoffer
http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=12792.msg13850#msg13850

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Greatest Country Canada!

Dear Editor,
Please print the enclosed editorial.
Sincerely,
John Labelle
Veterans Annuity Campaign
Coordinator
Stand up for the Dignity of Veterans
florencejohn@ns.sympatico.ca

Greatest Country Canada!

 

   Most Canadians now believe that democracy no longer exits in Canada. Lets get serious here! Senators are appointed by a Prime Minister regardless of their qualifications, they travel the Country to secure funds for their affiliated party on the taxpayers purse. These non-elected individuals can refuse to pass a bill that has passed the vote of elected members in the House of Commons. Their income and other expenses are considered to be excessive. They receive free pension and medical benefits from the taxpayers and yet they can hold other jobs/businesses. Very few controls or directions are given to them. Over 70% of Canadians want the Senate abolished yet the dictatorship will not allow it and no action will be taken.

   A Member of Parliament is elected by the People to serve their constituency and their country. Unfortunately when elected they are ordered to tow the party line by their Leaders. If they don’t obey, they have a party whip ready to demote them quickly. They must serve for 6 years before they can receive a pension. It is larger than most Canadians who must contribute for over 35 years. They don’t contribute to their pension plan. Oh yes their Benefits are also free!

Do you really believe that we live in a free democratic country? Dictatorship is present at most levels of Canadian activities and we call it democracy. So tell me, how much you love Canada? Is it acceptable to us because the Americans, the British and many other countries make the same mistakes? Then have the lower and mid income Canadians pay for it!

   We were the best Country in the world. In the old days we had more respect for each other! We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons! Today our Veterans are walking the streets suffering with PTSD after serving our Country. Their families are struggling financially. Tomorrow we look forward to getting our taxable Marijuana to ease our Canadian pain. The first part in solving a problem is to recognise that there is one!

   For me, Canada is no longer the greatest Country in the world anymore, while the rich get richer…….

 

John Labelle

Veteran

27 Dresden Court

Lower Sackville

Nova Scotia

B4C 3X1

902-864-2456

 

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How veterans shoot themselves in the foot while government hits them over the head

The timing of this article and the implications are very interesting as it is these very groups, the Royal Canadian Legion and the many veterans organizations they have united under the Veterans Consultation Group who will soon stand before parliamentary committee and champion NOT the standards established in blood, sacrifice and valour by generations of valiant canadians, but a Bump to the Chump to 350 k, a standard set by the Ontario workplace standards, not the Sacred Obligation.
Your membership to these organizations perpetuates this injustice because their words negate yours. 

Think about it. Then if you are a member of one of these organizations, contact your president, ask them why they are standing against the wounded quest for justice, quest for the same standards that I and thousands of pre NVC veterans have been awarded a as consequence of our lifetime of PAIN and SUFFERING on behalf of the nation.

Mike – Prez – CVA

How veterans shoot themselves in the foot while government hits them over the head

There is little doubt as to the good intentions of most veterans’ organizations in providing quotes to government. However, government has clearly been quite astute at using veterans’ good intentions to further a PR war that does little but says much about caring for veterans.

The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright
Media relations teams in the minister’s and Prime Minister’s Office as well as Veterans Affairs Canada have spun facts to portray government as doing more than it actually is. Take, for example, the $2-billion waved about in 2011 as government’s claimed commitment to ‘enhance’ the New Veterans Charter, the controversial veterans’ legislation. Closer examination revealed that $2-billion was actually $40-million annually over 50 years.
By SEAN BRUYEA |
Published: Monday, 02/24/2014 12:00 am EST
The current government has come under intense criticism for failing veterans while doggedly pursuing a relentless public relations campaign claiming the opposite. Sadly, veterans’ organizations have been unwittingly co-opted into this PR war, effectively supporting government propaganda.
 Media relations teams in the minister’s and Prime Minister’s Office as well as Veterans Affairs Canada have spun facts to portray government as doing more than it actually is. Take, for example, the $2-billion waved about in 2011 as government’s claimed commitment to “enhance” the New Veterans Charter, the controversial veterans’ legislation. Closer examination revealed that $2-billion was actually $40-million annually over 50 years.
 Such audacious ‘truthiness’ has contributed to the increasing skepticism amongst the public, the media, and, hopefully, veterans about claims by elected and unelected officials about veterans’ benefits. Consequently, former Veterans Affairs minister Steven Blaney changed tactics in early 2012. Until that point, media releases from VAC contained scripted quotes attributed mainly to ministers. Veterans were rarely quoted.
 The one exception occurred in the fall of 2010. Widespread privacy breaches targeting me became public just after devastating claims by the first veterans ombudsman of pervasive bureaucratic failures and just before the first nationwide public protests by veterans in more than 90 years. Government was losing the PR war badly. Ottawa quickly tabled three changes to the NVC, and included the following in a media release:
 “Dominion President, Mrs. Patricia Varga, of The Royal Canadian Legion stated, ‘This bill, as a first step, makes great strides in improving the New Veterans Charter and encompasses many of the recommendations made by the New Veterans Charter Advisory Group and the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.’ ”
And: “ ‘With this bill, we applaud the government for keeping its promise that the New Veterans Charter is truly a living document,’ said Ray Kokkonen, president of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association. ‘Naturally, we are pleased to have had a role in this matter and that our advice and recommendations have been heard.””
 Two years previously, both organizations signed off on the Advisory Group report, which stressed urgent changes to the New Veterans Charter. The report contained 86 specific recommended changes in 17 areas. The standing committee stressed the urgency to act on the NVC report as well as 17 additional recommendations.
A June 2013 report issued by the veterans ombudsman concluded that the federal government failed to implement many of the Advisory Group’s recommendations (my assessment is that 100 recommendations remained unaddressed from these two bodies alone.) In this context, three changes were hardly “great strides.” So few changes six years after the original legislation was passed hardly justifies the claim that “the New Veterans Charter is a truly living document” especially when the government had committed to reviews every two to three months and comprehensive reviews every two years.
 Media, veterans, and most Canadians upon reading such quotes would be forgiven for believing that government had actually addressed complaints about the NVC. In effect, these two organizations helped the government in public relations victory, allowing the “living charter” to enter yet another coma of government inaction.
 It would be almost 18 months before government would solicit another veteran organization’s quote. In 2012, the government was in the midst of an intense PR campaign. Called “Cutting Red Tape for Veterans,” the campaign claimed that cutting services in many areas was somehow an improvement.
 On April 3,  Veterans Affairs Canada included the following in a media release: “ ‘The changes to the VIP [Veterans Independence Program] program [sic] announced by Minister Blaney will make life easier for Veterans,’ said Gordon Jenkins, president of the NATO Veterans Organization of Canada. ‘Instead of having to submit individual receipts and burn up bureaucratic processing time, veterans will now receive a grant to cover the cost. This benefits everyone.’ ”
 This was a new initiative and therefore impossible for anyone to know whether this change would benefit anyone, let alone “everyone.” The initiative has since caused problems for a growing number of veterans. Meanwhile, the public could be forgiven in forgetting the Conservatives have yet to fulfill their promise to make VIP available to all widows of war veterans.
 Veterans Affairs Canada expanded the venues where veterans are quoted. The fall 2012 issue of the VAC newsletter to veterans, known as Salute, prepared the way for closing Veterans Affairs offices by sending veterans to Service Canada locations. Salute is often criticized for its PR and bureaucratic fluff. However, quoting veterans on any change usually lends more credibility: “ ‘Veterans now have much more access to services and information no matter where they are located,’ said Ron Griffis, national president of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping. ‘The ability to now receive assistance completing and submitting VAC disability benefit applications through Service Canada centres will benefit many.’ ”
 More than a year later, most, if not all, Service Canada locations cannot provide any information to veterans about benefits. Service Canada personnel will not have the training to provide veterans with the “ability to now receive assistance completing and submitting VAC disability benefit applications.” Such applications are notoriously complex. Furthermore, most of the Service Canada locations are actually “outreach sites” which have irregular hours such that many are open only once a month.
 In spite of widespread criticism of the recent federal budget’s failure to address veterans’ issues, the federal government looked to statement by the Royal Canadian Legion to give the impression most veterans supported the budget initiatives.
 Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino stood in the House the day after the budget under heavy opposition criticism: “In economic action plan 2014, we are expanding the funeral and burial benefits to ensure that modern day veterans of modest means can have a dignified burial. Do not only take my word for it. The Royal Canadian Legion just yesterday said that it was ‘…very pleased that the issue of a dignified funeral for the most vulnerable, low income Veterans has finally been resolved…. [T]he government lived up to their commitment.’ ”
 There has been no change in the qualifying criteria: deceased married veterans cannot have more than $12,015 in their joint estate and single veterans must be absolutely destitute or government will deduct funeral reimbursement from any additional assets. The issue is far from “finally [being] resolved.”
 There is little doubt as to the good intentions of most veterans’ organizations in providing quotes to government. However, government has clearly been quite astute at using veterans’ good intentions to further a PR war that does little but says much about caring for veterans. These quotes benefit government first, not veterans.
 By contributing to such propaganda, veterans are influencing change that affects veterans who do not belong to their organizations. Quoted veterans become ‘pseudo-proxies’ convincing a public with a limited attention span that all veterans are happy with the change. However, 90 per cent of Canada’s almost 700,000 serving and retired CAF members do not belong to any veteran organization.
However, veterans can beat the government at their own PR war. First, veterans’ organizations can refuse to provide media quotes. Second, organizations, just like government, can stick to media lines such as: “until government enacts recommendations from the veterans ombudsman and veterans’ consultation group to improve the NVC, veterans will not provide positive quotes about government.”
Otherwise, by supporting government announcements, especially before the details of any initiative are known, veteran organizations only play into the hands of government’s long history of doing far too little, far too slowly, to improve the lives of veterans and their families.
Sean Bruyea is vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.
The Hill Times
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