Veterans need to unite one for all to resolve issues with VAC policies and administration

In today’s post, Kenneth H. Young makes a plea for Veterans to forget their differences and start working together, regardless of rank, unit or corps. We need Veteran solidarity. Without it, Veterans’ splintered loyalties benefit the government because, as long as there is diversity, Veterans Affairs can continue to shove your complaints under the rug. BONNIE

It is time for the dozens of Veterans Bike groups to join forces–if not join together, then at least form a Motherhood or Fatherhood group that welcomes all Veterans to share their issues. Let’s call it an information group.

Government interests prefer to keep Canadian Veterans divided so they can exploit veterans’ differences rather than encourage them to combine to make an even stronger organization. I have no idea whether this was done to keep us in small and controllable groups or if it just turned out that way. As it stands, our Government saves time and  money when it ccomes to training, command and control. There is no advantage for us, however. We Veterans have fallen into the grooves provided by Ottawa under their command and control, rather than into groups which favour all Veterans. We have been manipulated into playing the government’s game, a game where the chips are stacked against us.

Up until recently, the VRAB has been making decisions in a vacuum with nearly zero medical or military expertise to support its calls. VRAB political appointees have always counted on their decisions being kept in total media black-out. When individuals have risen to challenge their calls, VAC and the VRAB have tried to push the challenger into the shadows and as far away from public scrutiny as possible. This needs to change. VRAB rulings need to be made public, and they must always be forced to back their decisions with legal, military and medical fact, and not with its standard “we feel, we think or we can not see” BS to which military personal have been subjected for the past 60 years. We veterans don’t care what the VRAB feels, thinks or sees. The VRAB is there to read the facts and render their decision based on those facts, not to insert their own thoughts or speculations.

VAC, although originally designed to be a Ministry to help military personal, makes its way through the bureaucratic government Mumbo Jumbo guided by continual government and ministerial directives that don’t help a Veteran achieve a favourable decision with regards to his disability pension and medical treatment needs. VAC, and by association the VRAB, has become the Government’s last defence against the Veteran. In my opinion, a very sad state of affairs.

The Legion, again like VAC, was first designed to help veterans get through the tons of paperwork Ottawa requires in order to achieve a military disability pension, but it has since become just a civilian arm of VAC. When Legion Dominion Command made the decision to become the agent of Ottawa in order to obtain legal wavers from the Suffield Volunteers and Nuclear Veterans (both from Chalk River and Nevada), they abandoned their own Legion principals and oaths instead of actively fighting for the rights of  these Veterans. This, coupled with high ranking Dominion Command members actually becoming Deputy Ministers of VAC or the recipients of lucrative VAC-Legion contracts, has, in my opinion, diminished their creditability to work on behalf of our Veterans’ best interests. It also demonstrates why the Legion cannot or will not join Veterans in any protest against the Government or VAC. In effect, VAC has made Dominion Command government employees.

Veterans, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. United we stand; divided we get picked off one at a time.

I am not asking anyone to abandon his/her group or organization. I am not asking any vet organization to replace its command structure or principles. What I am asking for is for all group leaders to get together and form a larger National Group, which welcomes all vets to unite under one umbrella. Let’s just call it a National Veterans Union, one that would and will ask their membership to examine any legislative changes affecting our Veterans before endorsing them for Ottawa.

I am a member of seven Veterans groups and the Legion, and although many groups including the Legion have endorsed the New Veterans Charter and then Bill C-55, I was never once asked about how I felt about either one of them. NOT ONCE.

This needs to stop. We need to be consulted. And most of all, we need a national and united front to deal with all veterans’ issues. If we wish to be heard, we need a much louder united voice. This doesn’t mean that you give up your own groups, because they are also important to deal with and discuss individual and specialized questions. For instance, I believe that the Air Force, Army and Navy all should have more say in the equipment the government buys for them to meet their respective needs, while still working under the joint effort as a single voice.

Think about it. Don’t rush to write your comments. Sleep on it.

If you really give it the thought it deserves, you will see that I am right and I am not stepping on anyone’s toes. The details can be worked out long before we get into it, but I fear that this is a must, if we ever wish to be truly heard.

We need to stop leaving people like Dennis, Sean, Jim, Mike,Lise, Bonnie, Sylvain, Pat and a few dozen more working in a vacuum and on their own. They need to be backed up with numbers. 

We are those numbers.

Kenneth H. Young CD
Canadian Veterans Advocacy
Agent Orange Association of Canada


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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7 Responses to Veterans need to unite one for all to resolve issues with VAC policies and administration

  1. Gary Goode says:

    As one of the many faces and voices of the Agent Orange Atrocity of CFB Gagetown NB, I can relate and agree with Mr. Young’s article on different Veterans’ groups joining forces to achieve the many singular objectives of the Veteran. For what adversely affects one, adversely affects all.

    There is one self-righteous issue that must first be addressed in order to be successful to achieve this necessary goal.

    It has become apparent to me that many, but not all of the founding members of these numerous Veterans groups and their higher ups feel their voice is the only voice to represent their specific group or cause and thus they are afraid of losing that voice if they join forces or share the work and podium with others.

    Myself as a victim and a advocate for the past 6 years on the Agent Orange issue of CFB Gagetown can attest to the many faces and personalities of an advocacy group. I have worked with many fine dedicated and committed men and women who selflessly sacrificed their time for the good of all only to be cast aside and their tireless efforts taken over and controlled by someone with a supposed title, whose only goal seems to be to get a little air time or to mucky muck with politicians leaving the hard working advocate feeling used and betrayed for the benefit of the self centered.

    This self-centered attitude of a few forces the truly committed advocate to work alone, join another group or to abandon the cause all together.

    Until some of these Veterans group’s higher ups take a serious look inwards and re-evaluate what they began advocating for in the first place, veterans will continue to be on the losing end of their selfish efforts.

  2. Bonnie Toews says:

    Gary, I agree. I am going to play the role of Pollyanna here and HOPE that everyone, all veterans, have arrived at the point where they finally realize that, unless they all act for the greater good rather than for personal gain or glory, they ALL LOSE. The goal of the single voice is to send out a ripple in the hope that the ripple will grow and gather into a wave that grows and grows to eventually sweep everything clean. But first the ripples have to join force to create the giant wave that makes the eventual difference.


  3. Gary Goode says:

    Bonnie, I am in your camp on this issue and I am pleased you agree with my criticisms. My views on this important issue are meant to be constructive to encouraging dialogue and not to chastise or point a finger.

    The veteran’s cause has lost to many dedicated men and women because they were viewed more as a threat to someone’s personal glory instead as a comrade in arms. These spurned men and women are talents lost and valuable voices silenced that create holes in our ranks.

    It is now time for everyone to put personal aspirations aside and join forces. It is now time to accept that there are those among us who are better suited for specific tasks than ourselves. Personal sacrifices must be made.

    It is a competent leader who accepts that he doesn’t know it all and respects and accepts the talents of those who can fill in the gaps. We are all in this together and it is time we started working together for no one is an island on to themselves.

  4. leigh scoty brandt says:

    Bonnie,,,Mr. Goode…
    I wholeheartedly concur… One voice one Standard…
    Best regard’s,,,
    Scoty B

  5. Murray Scott says:

    What the Hec is going on in Ottawa?

    I enjoyed reading the speech by the Canadian Veteran’s Ombudsman : to the Municipal Leaders – Annual Conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities by the Veterans Ombudsman. At this stage of the game when nothing is coming out from the Ombudsman’s office and nothing from the Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) with respect to the new Enhanced Veteran’s Charter Regulations , one has to ask what the Hec is going on. I am so starved for information I can understand why a Veteran’s Hunger Strike has grasped the world’s attention.

    All Vets want to know why there is nothing coming out and when will the new rules that the previous Minister of VAC bragged about will apply. After all they are passed ?
    If you speak to any of the VAC staff they say they are waiting for the rules to be written. In the mean time no application’s based on the new Regs are being taken what so ever.
    So what is going on; the rules have been passed and are in place as of the Royal Accent passage. Not one person has asked if any new applications will be back dated to the date of passage? So how much money is being saved and not turned over to the Vets because VAC has not written the rules which they new were in the making?
    Now for the biggest question of all? Maybe it is time that the VETs pull another walk.
    The Harper Government has made it very clear that they do not care about any Veteran since they got a Majority. There use to be a time when the new Minister would have some association with the Military.

    The Harper Government cares so much about us that they have given us a Minister that has no experience what-so-ever. What a slap in the face. For that matter has the Ombudsman opposed anything the Harper Government has done?
    Has there been anything from the office of the Ombudsmans ?
    Wow two steps forward and ten steps backwards.
    What is going on?
    43 Years as a Vet and still waiting for them to take us serious.

  6. Gary Goode says:

    It has been tossed around recently that all of Canada’s Veterans stand as one at Rideau Hall in Ottawa to assert our non-confidence in the Harper Governments and VAC’s intentional abandonment of our Veterans. I believe this should take place as soon as possible. I am ready and willing to work with anyone to achieve this noble and unfortunately, necessary goal.

    A token gesture, once a year protest in November is not enough and it is soon forgotten. We need action NOW.
    For anyone who is serious about fighting for Veteran’s rights and are willing to work with me on the road to Rideau Hall, call me at 250- 423- 4245.

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