Veterans incensed at latest VAC backtracking on public promises — both versions captured here


J.P. Blackburn, Canadian Minister of Veterans Affairs, said the Government is sticking with the lump sum benefits that replaced the former life pension for veterans with a disability.

Veterans, their families and Canadians can only feel the cynicism of the Minister and the Harper government for going back on his assurances during Veterans Week that the Charter would be reformed.

Remembrance Day is last week’s news. This week veterans will have to continue the battle to get the benefits they need and deserve.

Full article appears here along with Blackburn’s original promise to change inadequate benefits. As a result of the minister reneging, Michael L. Blais CD, founder of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy CVNDOP 2010, warns  his organization that it now has to prepare for a major battle with the government, and, in the next election, be prepared to back the political party that will carry its torch to victory.

WARNING ORDER

The government’s big announcement proves to be smoke and mirrors, designed to conceal the fact that our troops are getting mistreated in quantum dimensions.

Our duty remains constant. The lump sum has not been addressed. Our lads and lassies are still being disrespectfully treated.

I have no doubt we shall have to mobilize again. Please keep this in mind when you are talking to your friends and stand by.

Veterans Minister Blackburn’s Line in the Sand

Perhaps it is appropriate Minister Blackburn chose to use the phrase drawing a line in the sand when recently describing his government’s refusal to address the New Veterans Charter’s Lump Sum award. The battlefields of Afghanistan are arid — those sands on which Canadian soldiers have trod these past nine years have truly been bloodied with Canadian sacrifice. 152 two valiant soldiers have been slain in Afghanistan. Bullets, RPGs and homemade improvised explosive devices have wounded hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our troops. The Taliban’s weapon of choice, the IED, is particularly vicious, designed to create as many terrible injuries as possible. Our soldiers have sustained multiple amputations and very serious injuries as the consequence.

These are the veterans who will be subject to the lower standard created by Minister Blackburn’s line in the sand.

As primary organizer of the Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest conducted on November 6th, I can assure Canadians that the Lump Sum issue is THE primary motivational factor. Veterans have a sacred duty to those to whom we have passed the torch. It is our responsibility to ensure the wounded possess the appropriate standard of care/economic stability should they be repatriated with life altering injuries.

Minister Blackburn claims we, who stood up for our troops on November 6th, are uninformed, that we do not understand the complexities of the New Veterans Charter.

Untrue!

Veterans have heard Major Mark Campbell, Colonel Patrick Stogran and countless others who shall remain nameless until they are no longer bound by military protocols. We have heard the wives, the families, indeed, these stories of unnecessary hardship have only added to our commitment to resolve this unjust situation.

I would quote Major Mark Campbell, who bravely spoke out in the aftermath of the first national day of protest. Major Campbell lost both of his legs fighting to erase another line drawn in the sand. “Those of us who are severely disabled are still looking at about a 40-per-cent reduction in our income, compared to the old pension system. Does that seem like a good deal for a guy who’s got no legs?”

Does it? Is Major Campbell also uninformed?

These numbers proposed are also exaggerated and disingenuously cross the line between a Veterans Affairs Pension and the LTD disability program that all soldiers are forced to purchase. The VAC pension is a tax free, non-economic award based on the degree of pain and suffering and the consequences it bears on his post-injury life. It is separate from the 75% wage replacement policy! The pensions comprising the $58,000 Minister Blackburn boasts are NOT, unlike VAC, tax-free!

This real sum equates roughly to the Pre-NVC pension awarded to MCpl. Paul Franklin. MCpl. Franklin’s monthly award continues for life, a poignant demonstration of the historic trust between Canada and our soldiers during times of war.

However, e recently proposed $1,000 catastrophic award, the ELB, CPP disability and the SISIP LTD loss replacement payments all cease at the age of 65.

Must I remind Canadians OUR veterans are STILL severely disabled? Must I remind our government that their responsibilities to these veterans do not cease at 65, but when they die? Just what do the Conservatives expect these catastrophically injured veterans to do when over half of their income has been eliminated? Get a job at Walmart?

Reality check! Veterans pension only.

Let’s look at two soldiers: one who fought valiantly on the crest of Hill 187 in Korea, 1953; the other who fought just as valiantly in the Panjawai Valley, 2007. Both are twenty-five years of age, sustained injuries commensurate with a full VAC pain and suffering pensions. Each has a lovely wife, a happy child, both live to the age of 85. Over the course of their lives, the Korean veteran will received slightly more than $2,000,000 (two million dollars). His wife and child are eligible for special programs/educational support.

The veteran of the Afghanistan war receives… $276,000. His family… NOTHING in special programs or education support. 

How blind do you have to be to NOT see what is wrong with this picture? Is this how a federal government honours the special covenant between nation and soldier, those who would offer life and limb for Canada? Has our government become this uncaring, dispassionate, and desensitized to the needs of our veterans who have experienced great hardship, pain and suffering? Shall we, Canadians who believe in justice, stand idle and complacent when our government willfully implements a much lower standard for those to whom we have passed the torch?

I think not!

I think we have just begun to fight, that our cause is just!

Should the conservative government fail to stand up for our troops, veterans must and will accept their responsibility to those who serve. We shall organize and we shall diligently seek to elect a party that will support our troops during the next election!

Lest we Forget!

Michael L Blais CD
Founder, Canadian Veterans Advocacy, CVNDOP 2010

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About Bonnie Toews and John Christiansen

Bonnie's Blog Posts invite our readers and free spirits everywhere to share life's adventures with us. I talk about writing my novels, reading books, chatting with other writers and John's and my journeys around the world. We welcome your anecdotes to our experiences and discussions.
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9 Responses to Veterans incensed at latest VAC backtracking on public promises — both versions captured here

  1. Cpl. Kenneth H. Young CD (ret) says:

    Dear Mr. Harper,

    You will please note that I did not write, “Honourable.” This is because I fear that there is no more honour among the thieves in Ottawa.

    Many Canadian Veterans intensely watched and listened with great anticipation as Veterans Affairs Minister Blackburn announced his final solution to the New Veterans Charter to Veterans and serving soldiers alike, and just like all past historic final solutions — the people whom it affects had no say in the matter and received the shorter end of the stick.

    Soldiers who now cannot afford to be hurt in the line of duty… well maybe that is a bit overstated… getting hurt isn’t the problem, living as a disabled Veteran in Canada thereafter is. Promises made by the Conservatives through Mr. Blackburn, like past promises made by his party, fell by the wayside, forgotten as if never spoken in the first place. Maybe like the Woodstock speech about Agent Orange or the election promise to not tax income trust funds or the constant assurances that there would be no soldier in Afghanistan after 2011, his promises and past announcements will go down as just another Misspoken statement.

    I suppose that Canada must however thank Mr. Blackburn for solidifying the resolve, and rage of the many new and upcoming Veterans organizations all across Canada. He may well have single-handedly marked the beginning of the end for the Royal Canadian Legion as the continued and future voice of Veterans, yet that may be for the better because of the way membership has been going in the Legion.

    One thing Mr. Blackburn made crystal clear on November 17, in the year of our Lord 2010, is that the Federal Conservative Party of Canada, has no intention of treating Veterans and therefor soldiers fairly or with respect for the work that they do or did for Canada, if it costs money.

    So much for standing behind us. Come election, Soldiers worried about their futures and Veterans worried about their present will join together and return the favour: we shall stand down from supporting our government and elect it out of office.

  2. Sheri Skanes says:

    I am so disgusted in our government. Good luck to our military getting new recruits now that they see the way our government treats soldiers when they no longer can use them. Shame on Harper and Blackburn. I have lost faith in our current government. Definately time to let another party step up and restore some honour in the gong show that is our government now.

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  8. Robert Simpson says:

    Sadly I truely believe that no matter what party rules in Ottawa, that the Canadian
    Veteran will be promised a lot and given little. Maybe our shouts need to be just ” Show me the money!” I don’t understand why you ask us to serve, then don’t give us the best equipment to fight with. The fact is that we serve, we die, our bodies and minds get torn apart, then when we cannot serve, we just get thrown to the curb loke trash to fend for ourselves. The Canadian people need to put those elected to Ottawa on notice that the Veterans must be cared for. While I support any step forward in our care, I feel it’s wrong to take so much time. Yes I have seen more steps taken and faster in the last 5 or 6 years, then in the nearly 30 years I’ve been disabled. It’s still like they are waiting for us to all die, so the problem will go away. We kept our part of the deal, now Ottawa needs to keep their’s.

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