Can you live on $600 per month? This is the disability pension the hunger-striking veteran has been receiving. CANADA wake up! Enough veterans have died waiting for fair treatment. Are we going to let another one starve to death?

In the National Post  article entitled, Hunger-striking veteran aims to reform system, Fabien has turned down the help offered on Friday from Country Western singer Julian Austin to find volunteers and funds to rebuild his house. Instead, Fabien has raised the stakes to collect public attention on all our disabled veterans’ needs.

What utterly shocked me was to learn that the five months of back pay paid to Fabien by Veterans Affairs totalled $3,000. That means he has been receiving $600 in disability pay per month. How can anyone live on $600 per month? Is this his total monthly income? If it is, it is outrageous. How many disabled vets are expected to live on this paltry assistance?

Veterans, now is the time to come forward to tell your stories. Fabien is willing to die for you, so you must help him flood Parliament and the nation with your stories starting on Homecoming Vets. You don’t have to have your name published, but we need your story.

Please email me at with Veteran in the subject title, and I will begin a new series on Homecoming Vets by publishing each of your stories to accompany Fabien’s story to the nation.

I am doing this to support Fabien and all you vets, but the last thing I want to see happen is for Fabien to sacrifice his life to become a modern-day martyr because Canada–the government and the people–ignored his cry for help, for himself and for his long-suffering comrades. If Fabien dies because he dared to stand up to the current government, which is failing our veterans’ needs, we the people will have killed him, and all Canadians can hang their heads in shame.

In the meantime, our regular contributor Kenneth H. Young CD has written an appeal to the Minister of Veterans Affair. It follows. BONNIE

From: Cpl. Kenneth H. Young CD (ret) []

Sent: June-12-11 8:33 PM

To:  The Minister of Veterans Affairs

Subject: Hunger-striking veteran, Fabien Melanson 

Dear Minister of Veterans Affairs,

It seems of late that you have been put in charge of an ever increasing can of worms, namely the VAC. Day by day, the facade that VAC is in the business of caring for veterans crumbles to the ground around their feet, as veteran after veteran comes forward with the injustices handed them both by VAC decisions and the further proclamation of the VRAB upholding these same decisions, regardless of medical, scientific, military and even worldwide accepted and documented proof.

Not dozens or hundreds but literally thousands of veterans are denied or just simply ignored when they try to seek just pensions or medical redress, when dealing with the bureaucracy, which the VAC and VRAB have become over the years.

 A government department, which was originally set up to be the “voice” of the veterans when dealing with Ottawa and the soldiers last defence against the government’s injustices, has instead become the government’s last defence against veterans and their needs to seek medical care and pensions. VAC is even against veterans seeking redress for mistakes by these out-of-control, seemingly unregulated and non-accountable bureaucrats. Such an inefficient administration, in my view, dishonours, disgraces and pollutes your department. I am not talking about front-line workers either.

Government does not seem able to reign in their total disregard for the Veterans Act, the Privacy Act, Freedom of Information Act and just common decency, when dealing with veterans. It is almost as if they like the job and love the money but prefer that no clients get in their way. Privacy breaches, lack of information, incorrect decisions, disregard of logical and scientifically proven as well as world-accepted military hazards such as DU, radiation sickness, Suffield chemicals, and Gagetown defoliation chemicals–all are swept under the rug as if they never existed. And now, VAC has even stooped so low as to refuse responsibility for mistakes leading to the destruction of a veteran’s home.

Fabien Melanson is staging a hunger strike outside the front door of VAC – HQ in PEI. Even if VAC is not allowed to comment on the case, it could show common decency by offering a glass of water to the veteran and his supporters. To fellow Veterans it is shocking to see how little regard VAC actually has for veterans and their health. It seems that Fabien is just another inconvenient, PTSD-upset, and no longer useable ex-soldier they would like to see disappear and not deal with.

A good number of you MPs in Ottawa are lawyers, so you should understand, “Cause and effect.” The moment that VAC sent this soldier’s pension monies to the wrong bank account was an unfortunate accident (the Cause), but the day that Fabien called and informed VAC that his pension was not there, what VAC did next — or I should say did not do — was make any attempt to correct the problem. Any problem that arises due to that decision not to correct the problem is the Effect and totally VAC’s responsibility.

I heard you, Sir, the Veterans Ombudsman and even VAC state that odiously due to the privacy issues you could not comment on this case, but I fail to see why you, or any of the others, could not discuss the issues with Fabien himself.

To sit or stand by and watch a fine Canadian veteran slowly die or destroy his health, I find that you, Sir, your office, your department and all those connected with your office to be sadly perverse. One has to wonder if this is how the Minister of Veterans Affairs intends to treat all veterans for the next four years?

Do your job, Sir, and get your department to do theirs. Remember that Fabien has nothing left to lose, and freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

This may be the end of him, Sir, but I will guarantee that it will be the end of the trust any veteran might have in you as the Minister of Veterans Affairs, if he is hurt because of your or your department’s inactions. Another thing you may want to understand, this response is still part of the Effect from the original error at VAC.

A veteran who has documented PTSD may be excused if they make what you might call an unwise decisions. So what is your and your department’s excuse? 

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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4 Responses to Can you live on $600 per month? This is the disability pension the hunger-striking veteran has been receiving. CANADA wake up! Enough veterans have died waiting for fair treatment. Are we going to let another one starve to death?

  1. Correction: Fabien did NOT turn down Julian Austin’s help. The article references a different offer.

  2. Glenn James Berry PO2 CD R'td says:

    My sympathy and support goes out to Fabien Melanson, and I would like to tell my story but for the last ten years I have been have been disappointed by Veterans Affairs, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, the Veterans Advocates Office, Human Rights Commission both Federal and Provincial, etc. I am single and live alone, the experience has estranged my family and alone, with my condition retelling my story takes to a place where I cannot afford to go alone again. I am sorry.

    • Glenn, I understand. You can reach out to members of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy who are helping each other stand up to all these agencies, but especially VAC. You should not be alone, but we know those that suffer from PTSD feel very much alone. If you send me a private message to my personal email, I will make sure that a vet from our group in your area will get in touch with you. Not to get your story. That’s not what this is about. To give you “brother” support. A certain healing begins when you feel emotional support from others suffering the same as you. My email address is
      Hugs, Bonnie

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