When Fabien Melanson CD joined the Canadian Armed Forces, he proudly served in the Royal 22nd Regiment for 15 years. Twice he was deployed overseas in Bosnia 1993 and Croatia 1995 during the Balkan crisis where war crimes and genocide were committed. Through most of his years in service, he was posted to the Citadelle of Quebec and at the end to Gagetown until his discharge when he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Not long after his discharge, in September 2004, a clerical error at Veterans’ Affairs resulted in Fabien’s disability benefits being deposited into someone else’s bank account. This clerical error should have been corrected the very first time Fabien called the VAC to tell them his pension was missing from his bank account, but it was January 2005 before VAC resolved the issue and switched payments to the correct bank account number.
Between the five months from September 2004 to January 2005, Fabien’s life crashed and burned. With no income coming in, he could not pay to keep a roof over his head or food in his stomach. As his stress level skyrocketed, he not only lost his house while his PTSD symptoms worsened he also endured the humility of a destitute man. This was a shock to a dedicated soldier who had served his government faithfully through some of the most devastating deployments in Canada’s peacekeeping history.
To Fabien, it seemed no one cared. Despite his repeated pleas to VAC to correct its mistake, VAC took no action until, in utter despair, Fabien attempted suicide in December 2004.
One month later Fabien’s pension was once more deposited in his bank account along with the five months of back payments owed. VAC closed its books on the problem without accepting its own responsibility for everything that happened to Fabien as a result of this clerical error. No one at VAC even interceded on Fabien’s behalf to explain to the mortgage lender that, once the computer glitch was corrected, he would be able to make up the lost payments on his house.
In the opinion of Advocate Kenneth H. Young CD, “all other situations in his case stem from this error in judgement on the part of VAC. They could have checked with the bank. Instead, VAC ignored his concerns. This coupled with his PTSD lead to all of the problems Fabien faced and continues to face today.”
On Monday 6 June 2011, veteran Fabien Melanson CD will begin his HUNGER STRIKE at VAC Headquarters in Charlottetown at 0930 to bring attention to his case. He is seeking an apology from VAC and adequate compensation for his pain and suffering caused by the clerical error made by Veterans Affairs in 2004—a mistake that cost him his home and nearly his life.
Veterans, who live close to him, will be joining him at the Charlottetown VAC HQ through various stages of his Hunger Strike to share their own stories of hardships caused by the bureaucratic callousness of Veterans Affairs.
You can email him your notes of encouragement at firstname.lastname@example.org. Fabien needs all veterans and advocates’ support.
VETERAN’S HUNGER STRIKE: Fabien Melanson CD
SCHEDULLED START: 0930 Monday 6 June