Vets need to unite to achieve change

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 came to training, command and control. There is no advantage for us, however. We Veterans have fallen into the grooves providedby 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 in 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 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 yiur 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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One Response to Vets need to unite to achieve change

  1. Murray Scott says:

    Re: Posted
    Obviously the current methods are not working and I see information being posted for the third or fourth time. The current groups and organizations are not doing well because they are not offering anything of substance. I agree that a couple of groups are picking one method of reaching out and not trying to be everything to everyone. The biggest complaint I hear when talking to Vets is that they are not being told the truth from VAC and that many of the organizations are trying to scare them into joining their group under the threat of not being able to get their needs met.
    It is not rocket science…if it is not working try a different way….

    Ottawa – September 14, 2011

    Last year almost 8 percent of our total complaints, 137 of 1823 cases, were on the decisions arising from the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).

    In fact VRAB complaints were rated as number five in the Office’s top seven issues that caused Veterans concern.

    For the most part, the Office can do very little with regards to an individual decision as the Order in Council that established the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman does not allow the Ombudsman to ‘review any decision of the Board’. However, the Order in Council does allow the Ombudsman ‘to review systemic issues related to the Board’. So although the Office couldn’t help individual Veterans complaining about the decision they received from VRAB, the Office has been keeping track of those complaints and looking at them to determine if these individual decisions point to a larger problem that affects all Veterans (a systemic issue). One of the things we did notice was the number of Veterans that have had to go to Federal Court multiple times for the same issue.

    Accordingly, since May of this year, the Office has been working on conducting a systemic investigation of Veterans Review and Appeal Board decisions that have been the subject of Judicial Review in the Federal Court. After many months of preliminary work, the contract was finally awarded on Friday, August 12, 2011 to the law firm of Borden, Ladner and Gervais and the work has begun. The statement of work provides for a review of these VRAB decisions and will include an analysis of the consistency of decisions, an assessment of the evidence as well as identify any legal trends. In addition, the review will also identify systemic issues having a negative impact on veterans.

    The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of October 2011. Affected parties will be provided a copy of the draft report for comment prior to publication and the report will be published 60 days after it has been submitted to the Minister.

    I believe this report is timely and I look forward to sharing with you the findings of this systemic investigation which should provide an objective review of a major area of concern for Veterans that is now starting to receive public scrutiny.

    For additional information:

    Guy Parent

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