KEVIN VALLIERES’ comments:
So far, 152 Canadian soldiers have lost their lives because of the Afghanistan conflict. But, at a four-day conference on Operational Stress injuries at the Sheraton Hotel in Montreal, Senator Romeo Dellaire said that the Canadian government doesn’t count soldiers among the 152, who have committed suicide because of PTSD.
The theme of the conference was Translation, collaboration and Mutual Learning, and was hosted by the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies and co-sponsored by Veterans Affairs Canada. Dallaire went on to explain that he, personally, was asked to sign off on a number of his own soldiers who had committed suicide and state that their deaths were not service-related.
This is the Canada we live in. This is the country who right now is denying pensions to applicants with PTSD and leaving them to carry their burden alone. I would like to think that most of us here who are case managed, know their area councilors aren’t the problem. It IS the upper management who convolute and pollute VAC with policy that is not liberally construed according to the social conscience of the people and Government of Canada. It’s upper management that has turned Veterans Affairs into the “vac” machine it is . . . a system of denial, a system where the policy of defending the public purse is more seemingly more important that fulfilling the mandate of caring for veterans who have been injured.
Col. Stogran is right to say, delegate more discretionary authority to frontline case workers! And don’t add to their workload by forcing them to rationalize every decision made with yet another report to another manager! VAC needs to change its culture of denial. VAC needs to change the perception of its employees, who believe their first priority is to defend the public purse, or get rid of those who don’t. VAC needs an infusion of “real money” so it can stop denying applicants who genuinely need their nation’s help, when they’ve suffered bodily and mentally while defending her.
The VAC machine needs a long, overdue rebuild. I think what bothers me most is what has become of those veterans who have stepped forward with their applications and were denied. They served, they were injured, they applied, and I wonder how many thousands – maybe hundreds of thousands – over the years were denied. What about them? They’ve been swallowed up by the “vac” machine. They can’t re-apply! If their application was met with a denial by VAC and denied by VRAB, that’s it.
And lemme tell ya, they’re out there. VAC has a hugely disproportionate number of veterans on their books compared to other countries. I’ve crunched the numbers before. Statistically, in contrast to other countries, there are literally hundreds of thousands of vets who simply aren’t on VAC’s books. So, where are they? Many are reservists, part-timers. They fight. They bleed. They die. What’s happened to them? DENY … DENY … DENY … and POOF! They’re gone! They are no longer entitled to re-apply. And VAC is off the hook for having to acknowledge their service.
Interestingly enough, I found an 11.5-page document used as a guideline to indoctrinate adjudicators on VAC’s policy covering benefit of the doubt. The benefit-of-doubt clause in the legislation is worded so that someone with the facility of 10th-grade English can interpret it. And yet, VAC’s interpretation requires a full 11.5-pages to explain “what was really meant.” LOL. It’s a farce! The guideline completely changes what was meant in Law, and there is NO such thing in VAC as the benefit of the doubt. [Writer shaking his head.]
The topic of area councilors, for those who have them, is an important one! Because the success of the rehabilitation program is largely dependent on the social consciousness of counselors and their facility with policy. In many instances, their hands are tied because of prescriptive policy.es, their hands are tied because of prescriptive policy; the good ones will advocate for clients and would rather try to put it through and ask forgiveness of the dept later, than say no to a veteran! BUT there are some who have no idea of the parameters of the program they’re being paid well to manage, or alternatively, they have no social conscience whatsoever. There are those too, who are simply too damn lazy and know that if they properly case manage a client, it’s gonna mean more work for them! This commentary is not meant to give license to level criticism against front line staff, even we have to sometimes give the benefit of doubt; however, I, personally, have had to request that my file be assigned to a new case manager once (which is your right) because it was simply just unworkable. I’d like to think all vac staff are of the same mind but that’s simply not true, even at a front line level. I’m hesitant and careful to say it but I will because I’ve experienced it and it disturbs me to think that some veterans don’t have the benefit of working with a professional and dedicated area councilor. The good ones will advocate for clients and would rather try to put it through and later ask forgiveness of the department than say “NO” to a veteran.
BUT there are some who have no idea of the parameters of the program they’re being well-paid to manage, or alternatively, they have no social conscience whatsoever. There are those too, who are simply too damn lazy and know that, if they properly case manage a client, it’s gonna mean more work for them! This commentary is not meant to give license to level criticism against frontline staff, even if we have to sometimes give the benefit of the doubt; however, I, personally, once had to request my file be assigned to a new case manager (which is our right) because it was simply an unworkable relationship. I’d like to think all VAC staff are of the same mind but that’s simply not true, even at a frontline level. I’m hesitant and careful to say it, but I will because I’ve experienced it. It disturbs me to think that some veterans don’t have the benefit of working with a professional and dedicated area counselor.