Ex-ombudsman shocked it took Ottawa so long to track homeless vets

Ex-ombudsman shocked it took Ottawa so long to track homeless vets

Claude Lord, a Canadian military veteran, lives in a shipping container in a poor neighbourhood of Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Murray Brewster , The Canadian Press Published Sunday, January 10, 2016 2:16PM EST Last Updated Sunday, January 10, 2016 4:12PM EST

OTTAWA — Pat Stogran, Canada’s first veterans ombudsman, vividly recalls being hauled into the minister’s office one day in late 2008, where an angry, red-faced Greg Thompson — the veterans minister of the day — upbraided him for making public the issue of homelessness among ex-soldiers.

It was not an issue, Thompson allegedly told the extra infantry colonel, who had been selected for the watchdog post by a Conservative government eager to demonstrate that it was the best friend of the troops.

The encounter, chronicled in Stogran’s book Rude Awakening: The Government’s Secret War Against Canada’s Veterans, was the beginning of the end of the rapport they’d enjoyed. And it eventually led to the Harper government not renewing Stogran’s position in 2010.

Stogran says he tried unsuccessfully throughout his mandate to get the former Conservative government to recognize that homelessness among ex-soldiers was not only an issue, but a growing concern.

“They weren’t going to do anything unless they got hit in the head with a hammer,” said Stogran, who indicated the reluctance to acknowledge the problem extended to the veterans department as well.

What got him in trouble was the high-profile visits he made to homeless shelters across the country, where in 2009 — despite being chewed out — he began asking staff to collect data on whether shelter residents had any military service.

That data didn’t make its way into the national registry in a co-ordinated way for five years.

“I’m gob-smacked it took until 2014 for them to actually pick up on it,” Stogran said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Last week, Employment and Social Development Canada released a report to The Canadian Press that estimates 2,250 former soldiers — about 2.7 per cent of the total homeless population — use shelters on a regular basis.

Some groups, such as the Royal Canadian Legion, say they believe the estimate is too low and point to the fact that a Legion outreach program has dealt with 425 homeless ex-soldiers in Ontario alone since 2009.

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The current veterans ombudsman, who worked for Stogran, says he also recalls the former government balking at the notion that veterans were — for one reason or another — ending up on the streets.

“There was some argument with the minister at the time whether it was an issue. Obviously it is,” Guy Parent said last week, reacting to the social development report. “Even one homeless veteran is too many.”

Thompson was actually quite vocal in dismissing Stogran, telling The Canadian Press in a 2009 interview that his ombudsman produced no evidence of such a problem.

“He’s never taken down one name of the homeless veterans that he’s met. That is just beyond the pale,” he said in May 2009.

“Why hasn’t he forwarded those names to Veterans Affairs Canada, knowing full well we have the programs there to help them? Why would he be so insensitive to veterans as to not provide those names? It makes absolutely no sense.”

The force of his argument may be somewhat diminished given that 2007 briefing notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under access to information, warned Thompson that the issue was something the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada wanted to talk to him about at the organization’s annual meeting in May of that year.

“There have been a number of reports over the last year of people identifying themselves as veterans accessing food banks and homeless shelters in Alberta,” said the May 10, 2007 note.

A few months after that interview, in November, Thompson introduced a trial outreach program meant to identify ex-soldiers on the streets.

Parent noted that the veterans department is working with an outreach group to combat the problem. And Kent Hehr, the new Liberal minister, told CBC Television’s Power n’ Politics last week that his ministry is working aggressively to reverse the trend.

But Stogran says the new minister is facing an entrenched bureaucracy that needed as much convincing as the Conservatives.


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New government, new hope for war veterans

New government, new hope for war veterans


During the election campaign, Liberals promised better treatment of veterans and now that they are in government, advocates plan to hold them to it. “I’m very excited. We have a new sense of hope and optimism in the veterans’ community and we’re hoping to build on that,” says Mike Blais, president and founder of Canadian Veterans Advocacy.

ListenReverse policies, say advocates

The previous Conservative government brought in several measures which outraged veterans’ groups. Among them, they changed the provision of a monthly allowance for those suffering physical injuries and psychological trauma. Veterans applying for the benefit after 2006 were instead given a lump sum of $250,000, effectively creating two classes of veterans.

The Conservatives closed nine Veterans Affairs offices. The Liberals promised to hire 400 new service delivery staff and to reopen those offices.

Advocate Mike Blais is optimistic the new Liberal government will fulfill its campaign promise to help war veterans.

Advocate Mike Blais is optimistic the new Liberal government will fulfill its campaign promise to help war veterans.

A need to prevent suicides

Liberals also promised to spend $1.2 billion over the next for years re-establishing mental health facilities and providing college and university tuition for veterans after they leave the military. More veterans have died of suicide than suffered combat-related death in the war in Afghanistan, and Blais says that proves the need for better care and support.

Liberals also pledged $100 million for family support for caregivers who are often the front-line workers in identifying those in trouble and getting veterans help.

Disability helps minister understand struggling vets, says advocate

“There are many positive things that have been brought forward—things that we as an advocacy (group) have fought to have included in their election platform,” says Blais. “And we damn well plan on making sure that (Prime Minister) Mr. Trudeau and the Liberal government fulfills his promise.”

The new Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr was shot years ago, went through extensive rehabilitation, and now gets around in a wheelchair. Blais thinks this gives him a unique understanding of what injured soldiers go through.

‘Time for hope’

And, after meeting Hehr, he is even more encouraged. “He said he knew who I was and I told him bluntly, ‘then you know why I’m here. Mr. Trudeau promised me he would give you a very strong mandate to resolve these veterans’ issues and I have full expectations that those issues will be resolved within the first two years of a Liberal mandate.’ And he responded affirmatively. I believe he is going to make the effort to make this happen in an expedient manner.

“Veterans who have been disenfranchised—those who have been living in fear or felt abandoned and felt they had no hope—now, now there is time for hope.”

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by Wolf William Solkin



My beleaguered band of brothers (and sisters) at Ste. Anne’s/Veterans Hospital (SAH) recently received yet another update bulletin from “Management” on the state of the upcoming (up-chucking ?) transfer of our haunted home, from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), to La Belle Province, aka Quebec.


Apart from the regular redundant reassurances, that notice also contained some pertinent passages which served to re-start a long-standing cause of mine, that of the real need to revise, revamp and restructure the current criteria and present procedures for accepting/receiving more bona fide Veterans requiring care in this special facility, rather than, as now, excluding them for a variety of antiquated and/or arbitrary reasons, coupled with some selective/subjective judgement calls, as now implemented by “The Establishment”.


It is noteworthy to quote from the aforementioned SAH bulletin, which states that: “There has been a decrease in the number of beds required for long-term care for traditional Veterans over the last several years. As a result, three 33-bed units (i.e., floors) are currently closed, and an additional 20 or so beds are vacant. In all, approximately 120 of the (total of) 446 beds are unoccupied, and eligible Veterans are admitted without delay”.


Baloney! Malarkey ! Hogwash ! I obviously take exception to the the veracity of the above statement (except for the statistical data), as I have personally been aware of damaging delays in admission. Nor do I accept or acknowledge that the VAC/SAH interpretation of “eligibility” and/or “admissibility” is always fair, consistent or even-handed, within the parameters of the official mandate(s) !


To continue my contention….the term “traditional”as used above by SAH and endorsed by VAC, defines and includes only Veterans of WW I (!!), WW II, and Korea. It excludes [WHY?] any and all Veterans who served in bloody Afghanistan and in the various United Nations deadly peace-keeping missions in some of the world’s worst hell-holes, from which so many of those “younger” CAF volunteers returned to a more (in)different Canada, after suffering serious damage in so many ways. They, too, need but are precluded from the kind of care available only at Ste. Anne’s, despite the plethora of empty beds available, but now being set aside for Barrette’s burgeoning “civilian” corps….[WHY?].


I haven’t conducted a professional survey, but I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that dozens and dozens of those “New Generation” Vets suffer,not necessarily from PTSD, but from more “traditional” injuries such as loss of limbs, loss of vision, loss of hearing, or chronic lung disease, or brain injury, or…. just name it ! Yet, notwithstanding VAC’s oft-repeated and sacred, solemn avowal/promise/pledge to ensure “priority access” to Ste. Anne’s for (all ?) Canadian Veterans, those Vets are still being treated as orphaned, second-class/third-world citizens [WHY?], by a VAC which is so stuck in the stone ages, that it hasn’t bothered to update its eligibility guidelines long after the last Veteran of the First World War was honoured with the sad strains of “The Last Post” !


Also being side-armed and side-stepped from crossing the goal line at the entrance to Ste. Anne’s Hospital, are the many additional WW II “traditional” Veterans who, through no fault or decision of their own, had been assigned to carry out their voluntary and honourable military service on home soil, Yet, despite their recognizable requirement for the SAH-type of care, they have been left “on the outside looking in; because of what should long since have been declared as obsolescent /passé protocols. They, too, are being denied, disregarded and discriminated against…, [WHY?].


In addition, no thought seems to have been applied [WHY?] to the fact that there are pools of Korean War Veterans and Merchant Mariners who, while currently in their early to mid-eighties and still deemed somewhat self-sufficient, will soon be in their far more frail and feeble nineties, and will then require the Ste. Anne’s brand of care and concern. How long will they, and the other varieties of Veterans described above, be forced to grit their dentures and wait their turn in line for the much-vaunted “priority access”, after Quebec’s Health Dep’t, rushes to fill the full present inventory of unoccupied beds? Even now, the flavour-of-the-month in the non-stop ‘rumour mill’ is that there exists an old and crumbling geriatric 100+ bed facility, which Barrette has already scheduled to shut down, just as soon as “He’s got the whole (Ste. Anne’s) world in his hands”, to which he will immediately relocate the entire present body of “civilian” patients, en masse! How do you like them (rotten) apples ? Unconfirmed, but not unimaginable !


My soundly documented research reveals that , at present, gaining a berth at Ste. Anne’s involves two separate and sequential steps. The first step is that of ELIGIBILITY, which is determined by a Case Manager at the nearest VAC Regional office, for which the primary/abridged criteria are to be a Canadian Veteran who ” served in a theatre of war during either the First (!!!) or the Second World War…or in …Korea…or (in receipt of) a wartime related disability pension…AND…have health needs which can be met by the establishment”. (Basically the same conditions apply to Veterans of the Canadian Merchant Navy and Allied Forces).


The second step is that of ADMISSIBLITY, which is determined, (after Eligibility is confirmed by VAC) at Ste. Anne’s, for which the primary criterion is that “To be admitted in SAH, the eligible Veteran must need treatment and nursing care on a 24 hour basis in one of our programs…done on a case by case basis by the Clinisal Nursing Consultant and the Director of Professional Services”.


It is an ‘open secret’ that both formally declared sets of criteria referred to above, have been openly observed more in the breach, not only by obsessive rigidity, but also by excessive subjectivity, both at VAC and SAH. We have here some Vets who never set foot outside of Canada, as well as others who are virtually self- sufficient….so who’s kidding who/whom ?” Let us NOW openly face the realities of today and tomorrow, by acknowledging the existing and future needs now extant among our abandoned (and ‘banished ‘ ?). Veterans , and render them Eligible and Admissible to occupy the 120-and-counting unoccupied beds at Ste. Anne’s (VETERANS) Hospital. Here is where they truly belong, until the last, but by no means least, of our band of brothers will have breathed his/her last breath, in a VAC bed, attended by VAC staff, in a VAC hospital…..Ste. Anne’s .


If we can-and do indeed-continue to accept patients requiring palliative care, we can -and should indeed- admit those who are, fortunately, not at such an advanced/terminal stage, and can still be accommodated with the care, respect and dignity as befits them, wherever and whenever they served, even if they are not (yet) hopelessly handicapped. Prompt processing should present no problem, particularly in light of the many “new hires” of case managers recently and proudly announced by VAC.


It is well beyond high time for all VAC and SAH staff involved in this important issue, to bury their bureaucratic bonnets and replace them with humanitarian hats, so as to provide and safeguard this last remaining sanctuary for those many meritorious men and women portrayed above, who, having once selflessly served their country, now unquestionably deserve to be beneficially served by their country


To those who make policy at Veterans Affairs Canada, plus those who implement policy at Ste. Anne’s Hospital, I can but add…venerate your vulnerable Vets, versus buttressing your bloody budgets ! …..




And, Lest We Forget……..


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The Hills Times: Hiring veterans not a priority for O’Toole

Hiring veterans not a priority for O’Toole

In the first six months of 2015, which corresponded to O’Toole’s inaugural tenure, the Public Service Commission reports that he oversaw the priority hiring of zero medically released veterans. Since 2010, Veterans Affairs Canada has priority hired only six veterans, two of whom were hired by the Veterans’ Ombudsman.

OTTAWA—For the first time in eight decades, issues affecting Canada’s military veterans issues are featured prominently in an election.

With so much at stake, why would government yet again mess up another issue with veterans: priority hiring into the federal public service? Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O’Toole, in another installment of government hype on the treatment of veterans, provided this statement during the July 2015 changes to priority hire veterans: “The Government of Canada is keeping its commitment to help military veterans thrive while making the transition to civilian life.”

Prior to these changes, only medically-released members could have one chance to be priority hired. Serving members weren’t allowed to access internal competitions, representing 88 per cent of public service job openings. Changes now allow Canadian Forces members to access internal competitions but with no priority placement. Non-medically released veterans can have priority accessing only external jobs, representing the remaining 12 per cent of competitions. After World War II, all overseas veterans received preference in all competitions, the injured having the highest preference, no time limits, and multiple attempts.

Time will tell if priority-hiring amendments are working, but are the minister, his department, and the rest of the civil service helping veterans “thrive”? In the first six months of 2015, which corresponded to O’Toole’s inaugural tenure, the Public Service Commission reports that he oversaw the priority hiring of zero medically released veterans. Since 2010, Veterans Affairs (VAC) has priority hired only six veterans, two of whom were hired by the Veterans’ Ombudsman.

O’Toole isn’t the only veteran in the upper ranks of Veterans Affairs. Former top general, Walter Natynczyk was appointed deputy minister in November 2014. These two individuals are the two most powerful individuals in VAC and arguably the most influential veterans inside government. They aren’t the only ones piling on endless platitudes but why the gaping chasm between media talking points and dawdling?

The current government has manifestly professed its commitment to veterans while demonstrating an iron grip on the public service. Yet, in the first six months of 2015, the entire 250,000 strong federal civil service could only priority hire 21 veterans.

In the past five years, 6,162 CF members have received medical releases out of a total of 24,000 releases. Troublingly, the public service has engaged only 446 veterans, or less than 7.2 per cent, of medical releases for those years, (veterans released other years would have also qualified further lowering the per cent).

Of the approximately 3,500 employees at VAC, only 97, or 2.7 per cent, are veterans, eleven of whom work in the Ombudsman’s Office. Most of these were not priority hires. A cornerstone commitment accompanying the controversial veterans’ benefits known as the New Veterans Charter was priority hiring. In the nine years since its enactment under the Conservative government, Veterans Affairs Canada has made just 25 veteran priority hires. Correctional Services, Public Works, Employment and Social Development, as well as Fisheries and Oceans, all priority-hired more veterans than the department legally mandated to “care” for and “re-establish” veterans.

National Defence has better fulfilled an obligation to veterans with 838 veteran priority hires, 71 per cent of the total. But the booby prize goes to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB). With more than 100 employees and a perennial insensitivity to veterans, this agency priority hired just one veteran in 11 years. This must be what the public service wants because the chief bureaucrat during this time, Dale Sharkey, was last month awarded the Public Service Award of Excellence. Her nominator: VRAB’s director of communication. Back patting and rhetoric over substance.

Does all this mean the public service discriminates against veterans? Some veterans employed in the public service have made this allegation. Perhaps the greatest barrier is the public service culture. As the auditor general and DND have noted, hiring an individual can take 10 months while their application meanders through bureaucratic obstacles. When Canadian Forces members are ordered overseas at 48 hours’ notice to potentially lose their lives, government’s dull-witted response when the uniform comes off is a distant cry from the caring and dignity this government keeps telling veterans they deserve.

One astute committee member noted during hearings on the changes to the priority hiring bill: “why aren’t we thinking outside of the box in which we tend to think right now?”

Enlightenment, compassion, and innovation appear anathema to the senior public service. There are time limits for the priority hiring window. Yet, for disabled veterans, the only expiry date on their disability is death. For spouses, if a veteran is too ill to work, she is barred from priority hiring.

More than 70 per cent of the priority placements are in clerical positions. For some, worthy jobs, but O’Toole tells us our veterans have a wide-ranging skill set. In fact, there is no unique veteran specific follow-up to ensure that veterans are not frustrated, bored, undervalued, under-performing or suffering discrimination in a public service culture, which is widely divergent from that of the military.

When Canadians join the military, they are constantly trained, taught, and transitioned into responsibility with some of the best mentoring management culture in the public or private sector. There is no gradual transition into a new public service job for the few accepted. All applicants must satisfy narrow criteria that either discourage or disqualify anyone outside the public service. Bureaucratic culture has a difficult time translating private sector skills to a public service context. No wonder almost all departments, except DND, have been unable to translate military skills sufficiently to substantively employ large numbers of veterans.

Neither are disabled veterans supported to take on partial workweeks to adapt their limitations to new employment. Anecdotally, veterans are too frequently unable to make the transition from disability to 100 per cent work schedule in an unfamiliar work environment.

But we really don’t know because we don’t care enough about our veterans to do any meaningful follow-up let alone provide urgently required coaching. And our veterans need a helping hand. Fully 60 per cent of recent releases have 20 years or less military service with 38 per cent having five years or less. They want a job and their skills are a must-have for a stagnant public service.

For veterans who are sloughed off onto civilian not-for-profits, we have no idea how they are doing because there is no accountable follow-up. Washing hands of veterans by the government to outside agencies has taken on a mean, hot-potato streak in the last decade.

Let’s put this all in perspective. In the six years after World War II, Canada’s federal civil service hired more than 130,000 veterans. By 1951, Veterans Affairs had 14,000 employees; almost 9,500, including more than 95 per cent of senior managers, were veterans. For all veterans in any employment, particularly the disabled, personalized follow-up was part of the package. Case managers met with veterans and employers on a regular basis to help ‘translate’ the military skill set and working limitations of veterans into civilian context.

“Walt” Natynczyk provided the following in a scripted news release: “Those who wear the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces serve Canada with loyalty, pride, and a commitment to excellence.” Each military member does this for each and every Canadian at the orders of the Government of Canada. Canadians have increasingly appreciated this reality of late.

Discouragingly, government is far too mired in political self-interest, advised by the parochial and initiative-paralyzed bureaucracy to tangibly return the commitment in kind to our veterans and their families. Are veterans ‘thriving’ O’Toole? The best many veterans have been able to achieve, if they aren’t committing suicide, is to merely survive.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and a frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.


The Hill Times

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ONE VETERAN’S VOICE by Wolf  William Solkin



01_IMG718 To Text

Not too many moons ago, this old Algonquin Regiment “brave”  sent up a smoke – signal that spelled out what I personally knew about the commendable conditions and standards of care THEN extant under Veterans Affairs Canada at my current billet, Ste. Anne’s (Veterans) Hospital . In that opinion piece,  I contrasted the present  positive performance with my fearful forecast and core conviction that, no sooner will Ste. Anne’s fall from grace at VAC by being transferred (kicking and screaming all the way) into what I see as the    quagmire of Quebec’s unhealthy Health Dep’t., then all bets are off, and we will  become orphans in the storm of poorer provincial protocols and crass cost-cutting, courtesy of  “Bully-Boy” Barrette and his bunch of  benighted  bureaucrats and  political pals.

That column was titled “TODAY AND TOMORROW(?)”, and it was my (naive) assumption that the egregious era of “TOMORROW” would be yet a while before making its foreboding appearance on the scene….certainly not before the  “Transfer Tremors” takeover.. Not so, I regret to remark upon and report !
Even now, the  portentous cracks in the very foundation of Ste. Anne’s unique culture of care and concern are visibly spreading, and showing , on the surface, what further fissures lie below, awaiting their turn and time of eruption.

At this juncture, I refer particularly to the employee/staff situation which , like the recent stock market behaviour, has taken a sudden downturn in the quantity and quality of its customary “blue chip” elements. Those “securities”, in our case, are the knowledgeable  nurses and the extraordinary orderlies who attend to us 24/7…..at least, what remains of them, after the many early retirements, resignations  and other ship-jumpings that have already taken place , due to rampant  job insecurity and general frustration with the administration’s misbegotten modus operandi.

Of late there has been a spate of sudden and/or lengthy absenteeism on the part of an unacceptable number of essential employees, frequently leaving the shift staff seriously short-handed, and, by the same token, leaving us Vets in the uncertain and spotty care of far less experienced (and betimes strictly unilingual )  “newbies”*** ; retirees pressed into service long after their shelf life has expired, or, even less desirable, simply no replacements whatsoever, causing standards to be sacrificed on the altar of austerity, or perhaps even that of insouciance,  while “marching in place” and marking time until the problem falls within the province of the Province.

I have just been informed that the main reason for deliberately calling in “newbies” to fill staff shortages , rather than experienced and available “veteran” employees, appears to be that the latter must be paid at a higher rate than the former, thus helping “Management” to show a better “bottom line”!  All at the expense (no pun intended) of the pre-existing higher standards of care…yet another step down that slippery slope which endangers  Ste. Anne’s erstwhile reputation for its stellar services to Canadian Veterans.

While some absences may be lscheduled vacations or days off, more and more seem attributable to other  causes. Overwork has caused some blazing burn outs, resulting in prolonged medical leave; and what has previously been the familiar “Friday Flu”,  that now ubiquitous virus seems to have significantly spread  not only into Saturdays and Sundays, but is wending its way into weekdays as well.

The consequences are as self- evident as they are unavoidable, especially due to the seeming regrettable rush  to cut costs, no matter the cost.  The current consensus /’vox populi’ is that employee morale is sliding downhill on a slippery slope, with diminished standards of care as the booby-prize at the bottom. The reliable staff members that still show up as scheduled are often requested/entreated/pressured into “doing a double” (shift), often until they are too tired to stand  on their feet; orderlies and nurses are switched from floor to floor, or even wing to wing, at will and without notice; muted mutterings have replaced happy ‘hellos’, and every exhausted employee seems to be bearing the burden of two, as they breathlessly hurry hither and thither to try to properly attend to the needs of  their above normal assignment/quota of patients in a timely fashion, while still attempting to maintain  their usual high levels of care and attention…..for the most part, like Sisyphus, facing an ever-impossible mountain to climb.

Moreover, these staff shortages can cause delays in meals and other essential services which, in turn, create a domino effect whereby previously tightly scheduled appointments with clinicians such as physio and/or occupational therapists, as well as with a wide variety of visiting medical specialists,  must, of necessity, be rapidly rescheduled or, as is too often the case, postponed for a prolonged period of time….hardly a desirable outcome, nor is it, in the slightest, up to Ste. Anne’s standard “standards of care”.

Again, due to staff shortages, some patients have even had to miss their once-weekly(!) bath on more than one occasion, which is totally unacceptable, and  an augury contrary to the oft-repeated and avowed /proclaimed VAC pledge that the vaunted high standards of care at Ste. Anne’s will never be reduced   Don’t get me wrong….if one has to reside in a long-term care facility, this  is still a darn good place to be….but it is definitely becoming less so with each passing day, as it anxiously awaits the provincially-suspended Sword of Damocles to plunge into its very essence.

I say, enough of the present on-site administration fantasizing  that all is ‘tickety -boo’, and ‘business as usual’ is ongoing until the  onset of Nirvana,  in the form of their vision of a seamless transfer/transition which they trumpet will yet occur. God may be in his heaven, but all’s not well with the world of Ste. Anne’s.  Hypothetically, it would be ideal if someone with some savvy  from VAC’s HQ could come here  and just mingle and talk with a random sampling of the floor nurses, orderlies and patients, to determine whether or not I’m babbling  through my beret. If my observations and evaluation of this incipient situation prove to be correct, then concrete corrective measures should/must be implemented immediately,  from the top down, before the proverbial fan gets hit too hard.

On second thought, the above suggestion would be impossible to act upon, as the floor staff have been instructed, in no uncertain terms, that it is forbidden for them to speak to patients about  anything pertaining to the hospital, other than matters related to their immediate duties at hand, under penalty of serious consequences. In effect, if they rock the boat, they risk being made to “walk the plank”. And as for speaking out to “outsiders”… why, that would be courting a veritable court martial !

We  Veterans will undoubtedly lose a lot of things on a number of fronts during and due to the transfer troubles that we will soon be facing. Notwithstanding, the one element that must be protected and preserved above all else, and is germane to our sense of security and satisfaction which comprises the essential aspect of our life at Ste. Anne’s, is the culture of peerless care combined with the wonderful work ethic which has hitherto permeated the rank-and-file personnel.  The SAH patients and floor staff have for decades enjoyed a mutualistic/symbiotic relationship , which should be permitted and encouraged to flourish undiminished and undamaged, without fear or favour.

That is what we Vets were promised. That is what we  Vets deserve. That is what we Vets expect.

What was once a warm and welcoming work place is fast becoming one of conflicts and complaints, and this inevitably shows up in the reduced degree of care and time allotted, plus unraveling of reciprocal relationships, all contra-indicated for the patients’ well-being.  And all this starting to simmer this summer,  long before the actual transfer is even consummated !

I lay no blame whatsoever on the employees. The fault lies in their confounded confusion and uncertainty about what they do not yet know about their future, coupled with their basic distrust and discontentment with what little they do know of that which lies ahead.

Just reading my diatribes and nodding  your concurrence to yourself as you nod off,  won’t accomplish diddly squat, unless YOU write a letter, make a call, or send an email to the person whom YOU are personally paying to represent YOU as your Member of Parliament , and instruct him/her  to respond to (y)our “S O S” ………”SAVE  OUR. STAFF” !!!

And please,   Lest We Forget……

Wolf William Solkin.


ONE VETERAN’S VOICE “THE TEN COMMANDMENTS” by Wolf William Solkin http://canadianveteransadvocacy.com/Board2/index.php?topic=15826.0

A VETERAN’S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran
VETERANS’ VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin
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by Wolf William Solkin


I have, in previous columns, expended much emotional energy and many woeful words voicing my vituperative views about what I perceive as the bad behaviour and negativism of some senior staff at Ste. Anne’s (Veterans) Hospital, along with similar symptoms evinced by some of the bungling bureaucrats at Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), notable also for their niggardly notions of austerity cuts affecting Veterans.

Having spent all that valuable time and  talent, without any adequate assurance that those paltry people (let alone their indifferent Parliamentary patrons) were paying any heed whatever to my “sour gripes”,  I felt it was high time to remind them of  why and to what end they have been hired,  and on whose tab, so that perhaps they will stand back a bit from their dandy desks, long enough to gain a better perspective of what truly should be their real responsibilities and relationships with the vulnerable  Veterans in their charge, of whatever war they waged at their country’s call, be it WW II, Korea, “peacekeeping” missions in countries that may never see peace,or the latest FUBAR in SNAFGHANISTAN.

That brings me to what I have termed “The Ten Commandments” for all VAC employees, setting forth in no uncertain terms, how and why Canada’s War Veterans are to be treated by those employed by our government to do so. This apparently  long forgotten and sadly ignored Government of Canada document was given to me after it was discovered in an an obscure storage room at Ste. Anne’s Hospital.  It is a straightforward  statement, prepared by an anonymous authority within the venue of Veterans Affairs, in the good old days when the word “Veteran” was still virtually venerated.  It is  presented in the form of a Middle-Ages illustrated manuscript, expounding ten basic principles  and precepts to be observed and embraced by ALL  Veterans Affairs civil service employees, regardless of grade, dealing with Veterans at any level, in any matter.

The verbatim text of those ten tenets is displayed below:

are the most important persons to all of us.

VETERANS are not an interruption of our work;
they are our work. ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

VETERANS are dependent upon us;
our reputation is dependent on them . :::::::::::::

VETERANS have a right to call us;
we are not doing them a favour by serving them.

VETERANS are not people to argue with,
But individuals to comfort and assist .  :::::::::::::

VETERANS are part of our business,
not outsiders.  ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

VETERANS are not cold statistics; each one is
a flesh-and-blood human being with feelings
and emotions like our own.  :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

VETERANS bring us their problems; our duty
Is to justify their faith in us.  ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

VETERANS deserve the most courteous and
attentive service we can give them.  ::::::::::::::

Remember always, if VETERANS did not have
problems there would be no need for Veterans
Affairs.  :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Government of Canada
Veterans Affairs

The ten adjurations contained in this inspirational major manifesto were intended to be held in the heart and seared into the mindset of each and every staff member of Veterans Affairs. However, I’m afraid that more than a few of them may have misplaced that mantra  in the process of focusing on other issues of greater import to them, such as (perhaps) seniority, authority, promotions, pensions and other matters more momentous to them than the core cause for their very employment, as delineated in the above “Magna Carta”….caring for Canada’s Veterans !

If I had my druthers , I would first filch some funds from the budget allocations to Veterans Affairs Canada’s Department of Human Resources and their Public Relations/Promotions programs. I would then deploy those dollars to duplicate many dozens of copies of “The Ten Commandments “,  and make it mandatory that every desk jockey whose livelihood is derived from ensuring the welfare of our old war horses ( and their younger comrades-in -arms, as well), MUST permanently post that protocol in a prominent position on his/her  office premises, so that those civil servants will be ever mindful of their primary purpose and the processes by which to achieve its avowed fulfilment, each and every time they chance to look up from their pile of paperwork.

Then maybe…just maybe… we could all, together,  gather at the river in “The Promised Land”, where all Veterans will receive the care, the attention, the respect, the value and the dignity to which they are deservedly entitled , as embodied in VAC’s very own “TEN COMMANDMENTS”.

That’s about it for now, except for my recurrent plea that we all should always remember., to…….



A VETERAN’S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran

VETERANS’ VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin


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by Wolf William Solkin


TODAY, It is  reasonably accurate to say that, by and large, we Veterans at Ste. Anne’s Hospital are   still “enjoying the good life”, with excellent health care standards, attentive and experienced employees,  an effective staff-to -patient ratio, ready access to overarching medical and dental treatment, plus ample recreational/entertainment activities and facilities.  The whole is  embodied within a “hands-on”  employees’  culture of concern and compassion,  to the substantial satisfaction of all of us on the receiving end of such bounty,  which we now consider to be “normal”.  That is a fair assessment, based upon my personal experience, of the “facts of life” at Ste. Anne’s, as they stand…..”TODAY “.

BUT, and it is a very BIG “BUT” we are now perilously perched on the precipice of a very steep cliff,  and will soon  (next April Fools’ Day ! )  be pushed over the perilous edge,  into the deep, dark  pit of the formal transfer/transition of Ste.Anne’s from the caring hands of Ottawa’s Veterans Affairs, to the clawing clutches of Quebec’s Health Department and its heavy-handed Minister Barrette, whose main mantra appears to be…”My Way, or the Highway!”.

“TOMORROW” is when , where , and how our pains and problems will increase exponentially, in spite of the well-meaning and sincere  assurances from Veterans Affairs Canada,   that nothing of significance will change for us here.  Those soothing statements stem from the recently signed Transfer Agreement which, among other crucial concessions, commits  Ottawa to pay Quebec  a substantial ” per diem” financial subsidy,  to be used for the express purpose of providing each of us with our accustomed high standards of  care.

So much so, to the extent that VAC plans to create and operate a “Two-Tier” system, wherein we Vets will receive a higher grade of care than the forthcoming “civilian” patients. Realistically, it is patently not feasible that such a duality of programs be implemented,   with all of us housed within the one hi-rise building, containing only one clinic floor, one pharmacy, one physio/occupational therapy facility, one kitchen, and  so on, unto one indivisible set of “common elements” (e.g., auditorium, library, , staff offices, etc.), albeit entirely administered and completely controlled  by the Province of Quebec, as  “The New Sheriff in Town”….starting “TOMORROW”.

I I can but envision the ensuing confusion, confrontations and contradictions, as a re-make of the iconic “Abbott & Costello” classic comedy routine of “Who’s on First ?….What’s on Second ..?..
Why’s on Third ?”…and so on , until major meltdown inevitably moves in.

I do not doubt the sincerity of VAC’s belief that their “Dream Scheme” will work out as planned, but I fear that, before long, Ottawa (and we Vets) will be low man on Quebec’s totem pole. We all know  that the tail should not wag the dog, and that the fox should never be assigned to guard the hen-house, but that is exactly what I predict will happen to us at Ste. Anne’s,  on the morrow, unless “TODAY” we exercise our own due -diligence. keep our own eyes wide open, report our own complaints, protect our own rights, and defend  our own way of life by speaking up, acting out, and participating prominently to mitigate what surely promises to be a traumatic transition….”TOMORROW”.

If it is axiomatic that ” only the squeaky wheel gets the oil”, then just picture the possible production of petroleum we might be provided with, if we are willing and able to raise one helluva holler in the hallow halls of the legislatures in both  Ottawa and Quebec, BEFORE “they” hammer the final nail to close the coffin  of transfer tribulations, with us still inside,  while there is yet some “wriggle room”. And even after that, we must  keep banging loudly on the lid until the public, if not the complacent and compliant politicians on our  payroll , hears us  and calls for our release from the potentially harsh conditions of our confinement,  and the restoration of all our rightful rights,versus only some residual remnants.

We “grass roots” Veterans at Ste. Anne’s MUST  be included, in one form or another,   as part and parcel of the Transfer/Transition process, becoming truly and directly represented on  and heard by the VAC “Oversight Committee” and/or the hybrid “Transition Team…..to ignore that, would be the worst “oversight” of all !  Otherwise, we could well wake up one not-so-fine morning, only to find that Ottawa’s subsidy for/to SAH has somehow mysteriously  wandered its way over to some new bridge to nowhere, or some other obscenely overpriced  construction projects, or (Heaven forbid !)  even to some  plump political pockets , or some bagman’s  snazzy sox !

In the final analysis , the bottom line is : who, in Ottawa , is going to be responsible for properly transmitting the “per diem” subsidy funds for Ste. Anne’s Veterans ? ; who, in Quebec, is going to be responsible for disbursing those  funds to Ste. Anne’s ?; who is going to be responsible for keeping track of the application of said funds ?; who is going to be responsible for reporting any discrepancies , anomalies or just plain, old -fashioned fraud and  chicanery ?;  and to which body?; and who, if anyone,  is going to have the full authority and responsibility for enforcing meaningful  measures to rectify any wrong-doings ?

In essence, who will be charged, on an ongoing basis ( far beyond the initial three-year “guarantee” period), with the ultimate responsibility  of closing the barn door before too many prized horses are gone ?   Or, to go further forward with the rural metaphor, who on God’s green earth will watch over the proper and promised  use of the per diem dollars in the Ste. Anne’s Hospital hen-house….the feral fox from Quebec,  or the more fair-minded but unpredictable, fickle farmer from Ottawa ?

We must all be ever-vigilant and protest aggressively against  various terms of the  Transfer Agreement and its more roughshod regulations and collateral repercussions…of prohibitive  parking fees  for visitors , volunteers and employees…of less qualified and fewer staff, as linked to protection of seniority and retention of the very special current crop of nurses and orderlies…of inadequate security measures…of increased meal charges for all non-Veterans…of the potential for misapplication of  private funds donated specifically to the Veterans for their exclusive use …of who gets to enjoy the fruits of the SAH Foundation’s labours in raising funds for the welfare of “their” Veterans, and many, many more factors that could well  become “Game-Changers” for all of us who are here “for the duration”.

Good faith and good intentions alone will not prevent us from being overcome by the powerful and destructive force of the Transfer/Transition Tsunami  now on our near horizon. Our only chance for any survival at all, is if we work our bony butts off NOW, to preserve and inject more of what we treasure “TODAY”, into what I fearfully foresee will be coming down the pike  “TOMORROW” !

And, as ever, please remember to….


A VETERAN’S VOICE: Intro / TRANSFER of Ste Anne by Wolf Solkin WWII Veteran

VETERANS’ VOTES ARE VITAL by Wolf William Solkin


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by Wolf William Solkin


It has indeed been the iconic Biblical “Threescore years and ten” since our generation of WW II Veterans finally forced the foes of our freedoms , the Nazis and the Fascists, to abandon their destructive and dastardly efforts to rule over us by dictatorship defeating democracy. At that time we were all so truly proud and happy that autocratic rule over most of the world was replaced by the democratic process, whereby we were primarily granted the (“God-given”?)) right to VOTE,  to select and/or reject our nation’s leaders. There were, of course, many other precious rights and freedoms that we gained, but they could not have surfaced, let alone thrived, without our first having the cornerstone upon which they could be built…free and fair elections, whereby we could express our desires and demands for our preferred way of life by (s)electing those legislators whom we felt would best represent our best interests. However, and sad to say, as the years came and went, so too did our enthusiasm and interest for engaging ourselves and concerning ourselves with governing ourselves, wane and decrease to the point of diminishing (electoral) returns. To quote from a recent article written by Pete McMartin  of the ‘Vancouver Sun’, …”In all,the adjusted turnout for the 2011 federal election was 58.5 per cent, second lowest in the country’s history…The largest voter turnouts came in the decades after the Second World War.. Perhaps the visceral connection between sacrifice and the democratic process was more evident to voters…(and Veterans)…then, because it was literally paid for in blood…”. Right on ! There is no question that many of us, have slowed down, drowsed off and grown fat…OK, no need to be ashamed of our weight. But there is a great need to be deeply ashamed of not carrying our weight, when it comes down to our real responsibility to act as responsible citizens, in determining the continuing way of life for that very same country of ours for which we few fought so fiercely to keep our freedoms flourishing. “Our” war of yore may be long over, but there are still battles to be fought for our country within our country…..not with bullets, but with ballots ! Both as Veterans and as part of the total  Canadian citizenry, we are faced with myriad problems which affect us today, and will affect our children and grandchildren tomorrow and the day(s) .following. Not only what will become of my vanishing vintage of Vets, but also, and equally if not more important,  the current and future treatment of our “younger” brothers -in-arms, who fought just as hard and bled just as much, trying to keep the peace in perilous places like Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda,Haiti,  the Middle East and many others, plus “the pick of the litter” being Afghanistan. Enough said !! And that is by no means all that should concern us as Veterans. What about such things as the economy , higher taxes, cost of living increases, unemployment and so on down the very long line of important matters affecting not only you, but your family, your neighbours, your community and, for that matter, your/our  whole darn country ? Or do you just not care anymore, and have become indifferent to what’s happening in and to the world outside your own little comfort zone ? “So what?”, you say….I’ll tell you ” what” !   We Canadians have a national election coming up this 19th of October, and while I will never presume to tell anyone whom to vote for, I do dare to demand that we all get off our bony butts to participate in our cherished democratic process. Help to elect the representative(s) whom, after due diligence, you decide will best act on your/our personal and collective behalf, as Veterans of all ages and all military operations. Check him/her out very carefully, satisfy yourself that your choice will  not just talk the talk, but actually walk the walk, and is prepared to do so in your old service boots ! Your duty as a Canadian /Veteran is far from over. You fought for and preserved  a democratic  way of life; now is the time for you to benefit from your victory  by voting for those candidates who will most truly and consistently recognize, respect and reinforce the rights of all true Veterans all across Canada. Voting is not simply a right or a privilege. I look upon voting as an obligation that we Veterans should/must fulfil at all costs, and I sometimes even consider the possible advantages of enforceable mandatory voting laws, such as now exist in some forward-looking countries. Whatever your view, let your views be known to the people who are even now submitting their resumes and applying to you and me for the pretty cushy yet highly critical job of performing as OUR public servants and doing OUR bidding for the forthcoming  years. So do yourself, your family, your friends and your fellow-Vets a forever favour, by going out to VOTE,  and getting out the VOTE !!!! And always remember to….                                          …LEAVE NO VET BEHIND !

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Standing Committee on VAC – Continuum of Transition Services June 16th

Standing Committee on VAC – Continuum of Transition Services June 16th

General framework for the study

When members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are ill or injured, whether or not the injury or illness is service-related, they may be medically released if their condition causes their long-term inability to be deployed with their unit. This release also means that responsibility for the member’s rehabilitation and compensation will be transferred from the Department of National Defence (DND) to other stakeholders, in particular, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP). The process that begins the moment a member becomes ill or injured can be complex, and the programs established to support the member’s transition are numerous. As a result, it can be difficult for members, veterans and the public to navigate them, and misunderstandings may arise.

With this study on the continuum of services, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs wishes to determine the key steps in this process, identify the programs available to serving members, veterans and their families at each of these steps, and establish an outline of the respective responsibilities of the various parties involved. The Committee hopes that this study will help point up the stronger and weaker points along this continuum in order to facilitate a sound transition to civilian life for injured members.

This document provides an overview of the transition process based on testimony heard from witnesses during the seven meetings the Committee held on this topic between February 26 and April 23, 2015. Its purpose is to outline the steps and time frames of the transition process and to highlight the issues identified by witnesses. The continuum of transition services is divided into three phases:
• The period starting when an injury or illness appears and ending when the decision is made to release a CAF member for medical reasons;
• The period between the decision to release a CAF member for medical reasons and the actual release;
• The adjustment period, of approximately two years following the release, and during which Veterans Affairs Canada services replace those provided by the Canadian Armed Forces.

The purpose of this report is not to provide another review of all the programs and services that Veterans Affairs Canada can offer to veterans; rather, it is to highlight the lesser-known elements of the transition process, such as what programs are available from the Canadian Armed Forces before the Veterans Affairs Canada programs take effect, what coordination measures are taken by both departments during the transition process, and what initiatives are available through third-party organizations that complement government measures.

Report 6 – Continuum of Transition Services (Adopted by the Committee on June 16, 2015; Presented to the House on June 18, 2015) http://www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=8049069&Language=E&Mode=1&Parl=41&Ses=2&File=9

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Dangerous Déjà Vu for Veterans: Send the Omnibus Plate Back to the Chef By Sean Bruyea

From Sean Bruyea, full transcript of Hill Times Article

Dangerous Déjà Vu for Veterans: Send the Omnibus Plate Back to the Chef
By Sean Bruyea

In a bizarre and never-ending déjà vu, government is ramming through Parliament the fourth piece of veterans’ legislation in a decade. It is plainly bad legislation swallowed inside yet another budget omnibus bill.

The proposed veterans’ programs are joined by a torrent of feel-good political announcements. Does the hype match reality?
Do the programs fill the identified gaps and address the evidence-based recommendations?

No and no. The proposed veterans’ legislation should be sent back to the kitchen until what was ordered by veterans is finally served after 10 years of painful hunger.

Retirement Income Security Benefit

A new Retirement Income Security Benefit claims it will top up to 70% of what the veteran received from government prior to age 65. However this is based upon the veteran’s income loss benefit which already reduces military salary to 75%. This income loss benefit is inadequately adjusted for inflation to a maximum of 2% since military release from 1953 onwards. In the past twenty years, inflation has been above 2% nine of those years. Seventeen of the previous 20 years were above 2%.

For example, veterans released in 1996 have had their earnings loss benefit increased by approximately 30% while military salaries have increased 80%.

The retirement benefit therefore equates to the veteran effectively receiving 52.5% of their military salary, inadequately adjusted for inflation. The Ombudsman, Guy Parent, was quick to endorse this program during a partisan political announcement. Yet, Mr. Parent’s office clearly recommended a retirement benefit matching 70% of release salary, fully indexed for inflation.

The majority of veterans’ groups active in advocacy, the ombudsman, VAC’s own advisory groups and Parliament in 2010 have all repeatedly recommended that the 75% earnings loss benefit be substantively increased to anywhere from 90 to 100% of release income matching salary increases of a typical career of promotions. Civilian courts have been doing this for decades. Implementing this universally supported recommendation would result in a dignified income loss program which would in turn provide a dignified retirement benefit for our most injured veterans.
The consequence of government’s repeated dismissal of this evidenced-based research and recommendation: a paltry payout from this proposed retirement benefit which will go to just 261 veterans with disabilities by 2020.

Family Caregiver Relief Benefit

The Family Caregiver Relief Benefit is another puzzling creation. Only 351 family members by 2020 will qualify out of the anticipated 6000 totally impaired and disabled veterans.

No veteran group, parliamentary committee, ombudsman or advisory group asked for a benefit in this form. What others have asked for is everything from matching the DND Caregiver Benefit which pays up to $36,500 over any 365 cumulative days to providing spouses of disabled veterans with their own benefit to compensate for lost income in their poorly appreciated efforts to care for their struggling veteran spouses. One of the easiest solutions would be merely to open up the existing attendance allowance program to all injured veterans. The proposed family caregiver benefit pays $7238 per year equivalent to the lower levels of attendance allowance which pays up to $21,151.44 annually.

Critical Injury Benefit

The Critical Injury Benefit will provide a one-time payment of $70,000 to Canadian Forces members and veterans “for severe, sudden and traumatic injuries or acute diseases that are service related, regardless of whether they result in permanent disability”. Countless veterans have come forward telling us that disabling PTSD, traumatic brain injury or loss of organ function are being low-balled below the approximately $40,000 average lump sum payment for pain and suffering. How can government justify to veterans enduring lifelong disability that their pain and suffering merits far lower a payment than a veteran who temporarily suffered an injury?

This leads to the obvious question: from what obscure bureaucratic orifice did this proposal originate? Absolutely no one in the veterans’ community, the ombudsman’s office, parliament or advisory groups asked for this benefit. We know little of the criteria but we know it is highly restrictive: only two or three individuals per year will receive it from a totally disabled and permanently incapacitated population of 6000 veterans in 2020 and a current CF serving and veteran population of nearly 700,000 individuals.

How is this in any manner fulfilling Canada’s obligation to all of our veterans and their families? It does not. Why did government not do what all have been asking: increase the amount of the lump sum benefit to at least match court awards for pain and suffering? Why have so much time and tears been expended by suffering veterans for a potpourri of political pretense grudgingly helping too few.

Canada’s Obligation to Our Veterans and Their Families
We are inundated by slick PR campaigns and political photo shoots as to the importance of military service but when it comes to addressing shortcomings for those most in need, government delays, deflects and unfortunately dances on the suffering of our veterans and their families. Much of this rhetoric is centred upon how much Canada is indebted to our veterans and their families.

The new legislation proposes an obligation to our serving members, veterans and their families to provide “services, assistance and compensation”. It is more encompassing than some previous legislation but all offer little substance and are mostly meaningless. To what end is this obligation? To rehabilitate, re-establish, to offer opportunity, well-being, quality of life, education, retraining, employment or provide a clear service standard?

Professing an obligation absence a goal is hollow at best.

Why does this proposed obligation only recognize assistance to injured members, veterans and their families? Is Canada not responsible for all veterans? The duty of the Minister in the Department of Veterans Affairs Act is “the care, treatment or re-establishment in civil life of any person who served in the Canadian Forces” and “the care of the dependants or survivors”. At one time this included “retraining”. Is all of this not what government keeps claiming the new veterans charter accomplishes but has so far abysmally failed to deliver?

Why the Legislation Should be Sent Back to the Chef

These programs if passed without substantive change will set dangerous precedent.

First, they create yet more classes and subclasses of inequity between veterans. Second, unnecessary programs result in more red tape and more work for overstaffed frontline workers when merely expanding and improving existing programs will do more. Third, they will encourage government to create discriminatory policy under a political facade while simultaneously dismissing evidence-based research and widespread consensus of those directly affected who truly understand the options available.

Finally, government’s bullying with ‘it’s better than nothing’ attitude intimidates an already subserviently indoctrinated military culture to accept paltry scraps to compensate for genuine sacrifice and life-altering disabilities. Caving into bullying disguised as sweet-talk effectively endorses shoddily concocted programs. This gives license to government again to do nothing for the next five, ten or more years to fix these abominations while government ignores a host of outstanding programs veterans and their families need now.

Veterans must realize they deserve what they need and have it delivered in a timely fashion. Why would anyone swallow that which was never ordered or a spoonful from the menu haphazardly fried up a decade ago? Veterans deserve to have the dish remade as requested. Isn’t a fair and square meal the minimum that lifelong sacrifice deserves?

And let’s stop hiding veterans, let alone any unrelated legislation, in omnibus bills or otherwise ramming veterans’ programs through parliament.

Almost 120,000 Canadians have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands more have lived and continue to live with lifelong disabilities. They have done this to serve our nation in protecting democracy and its vital pillars of transparency, accountability and due process. Surely Parliament can do better for its veterans. Send the programs back to the chef.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and a frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.

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