Public Plea to Veterans Affairs Minister to Re-assess VRAB’s Negligent Performance

Français : Steven Blaney lors d'une conférence.

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Murray Scot sends the following public entreaty to the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada. Veterans’ public appeals reinforce that they will not succumb to government pressure to accept the abuse of their rights and treatment as they have silently endured in the past. They expect accountability and will not rest until they achieve it. They are not heroes while on government mililtary missions and then subservient mice when they retire. BONNIE

To The Honorable Steven Blaney
Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada:

As you are aware, there has been an ever increasing contempt for the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).

Mr. Blaney, as soldiers, we are taught to suck it up and move on, do not show signs of weakness and – above all – do not complain. When a Veteran files for a claimed condition, it goes against everything we have been taught. Then, when we are in a weakened condition – both mentally and physically – and left with no choice but to file for Disability, we are beaten down and taken advantage of by the Veteran’s Review and Appeal Board. For us, the VRAB’s act of cowardice very much matches a Bully’s behaviour in the schoolyard. 

In my 45 years as a Disabled Veteran, I have never seen it get so bad that our injured Veterans feel that they have to take matters into their own hands. 

During this past year, we have seen desperate Veterans going on Hunger Strikes to get their plight heard by Veteran Affairs Canada. Unfortunately, we have also seen further acts of Desperation in the form of Veterans trying to attack and hurt members of the Veteran’s Review and Appeal Board (VRAB). 

In December of 2011, we have seen an Escalation of the contempt for the office and members of VRAB. One Veteran felt he had no other choice but to take matters into his own hands. He burst into a VRAB Hearing in Edmonton and attempted to spray lighter fluid on the VRAB Members. He was captured in Fort MacMurray and was taken to hospital for treatment. This treatment should have been supplied by VAC. 

Mr. Blaney, how many more lives are you going to put at risk before you begin to see what disabled Veterans have known for a long time; VRAB is doing the dirty work for Mr. Harper. VRAB has made it clear that they can make up the rules as they go along and they can continue to treat Veterans with contempt. They constantly degrade and discount our doctors and medical specialists. With respect to the Benefit of Doubt Rule, our Veterans are not getting the “benefit of doubt” applied to our Appeals.
We do not condone these acts of emotional contempt to get someone to listen to us; however, we certainly understand how Veterans arrive at this final act of exhaustive desperation. 

Mr. Minister, we want you to re-think the VRAB board and ask for an inquiry into how it got to this point. Should you not stop this contempt by VRAB against our precious Veterans, then it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured on your watch. It is now time to act, Mr. Blaney. 

We find it very interesting, Mr. Blaney, that if a community is being attacked by an outbreak of “break and entries” and the Police are aware of it but do nothing to make the community aware of the situation, then the Police are held Accountable.

Mr. Blaney, do you know what it feels like when our Veterans have to beg and borrow funds to just get food and shelter? You told Veterans that there would be a cut to our funds while at the same time VRAB Members brag about travelling First Class wherever they go. Do you see the disparity? I suspect that if you took the money that would be saved if VRAB members travelled by Economy like Veterans, this might reduce the amount of cutbacks you feel you need to help balance the books.

Another benefit to VRAB travelling by economy is they would perhaps be able to identify in a small way with Veterans. 

Mr. Minister, if you have everyone telling you that VRAB is out of control and that Veterans are not getting the treatment they deserve, then perhaps now is the time to put your hard hat on and fix the problem. If you do not act now, then shame on you

There was a time, Mr. Blaney, that Appeal Members would do anything possible to help Veterans. Should a Veteran not be granted a favorable decision, the Appeal Members used to scrutinize their application to see if the Veteran could get entitlement at another level. This tradition no longer exists. 

Mr. Blaney, we know you are not a soldier and you are disadvantaged by this when dealing with our Veterans; however, even you must know that VRAB is broken and now is the time to act. 

Like it or not, Mr. Blaney, you will be held accountable should desperate disabled soldiers injure anyone at future VRAB Hearings.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. 

Murray Scott
Edmonton, Alberta

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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14 Responses to Public Plea to Veterans Affairs Minister to Re-assess VRAB’s Negligent Performance

  1. Sandy Brace CD says:

    You are totally correct in your assessment of the VRAB Murray. They are definitely off in their own little world oblivious of what is correct and right for our veterans. To be expected in some ways because they are all appointed and probably because of their loyalty to some political hack. One third of the VRAB members are lawyers and only one eight or less have any military experience. There are only two of 24 with combat experience (at my last investigation). They are overpaid lackeys for politicians who could care less about what is ethically right for vets. They have long snouts in the trough.

  2. Gary Goode says:

    Before Cantox Environmental (who are owned by the chemical industry) completed their health risk assessment of CFB Gagetown’s toxic chemical history, VRAB hired this person.

    Ellen Riley was appointed to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board in 2006. From 1982 to 1997, she acquired extensive experience in the interpretation and application of federal and provincial legislation while practicing law in Vancouver. From 1998 to 2006, she was a member of the National Advisory Panel to the Canadian Chemical Producers Association, an independent multi disciplinary panel established to sensitize the Association and its members to public concerns related to the chemical industry and to offer advice on issues related to chemicals and safeguarding the public.

    When we consider that from the 3071 disability pension applications made to VAC for exposure to Agent Orange at CFB Gagetown and the fact that only 36 actually received some form of pension for their claim, I feel it is only practical to ask if Mrs. Riley was hired for the sole purpose of denying Agent Orange claims. What do you believe?

  3. Good question, Gary. Timelines lead to a logical conclusion.


  4. Pingback: PTSD, Drug abuse…Warrior no more « Prepare To Cross Over

  5. carrie says:

    Everything that is said here is very TRUE! I have been fighting VRAB over the way I was badly treated at hearings and still am fighting over this! Funny, how none of this hit the news here in Edmonton,where I live? My first hearing ever in Edmonton to fight for my Major Depressive Claim which got denied through the Departmental Review.When I got to the hearing, it was a sham. I should have had medical attention as I went through a major depressive episode, anxiety was high and I had breathing problems. All they could say to me was ” Speak Up!”. When I questioned this ( treatment at the hearing) I was told they are only trained administratively and not trained medical which comes to me next question is why they think they can disregard medical advice when none of them are trained in medical? They threw my medical information out the window and sent it on some wild goose chase in another direction, plus there was no benefit of doubt rule applied whatsoever.Then here’s the crazy part- I finally made it notice to the PM’s department of what is going on over there ( after 2 years of this frustration) and they give me Mr. Larlee’s name and contact number, so I phone and some woman picked up, said he was in and the response was on his desk but not signed and told me to phone my lawyer. When I said no, I was told to contact him and not you, she rummaged through my files as she was speaking, told me I was getting the fair treatment I deserved, and we got into a cat fight after she refused me to talk to him. Her last words to me was ” oh, he’s got balls, he’s got BIG balls!” Nice way to be treated VRAB! Now, I think I should take it to the RCMP and have an investigation into at least who this woman was rummaging my files because her name and position is unknown to me. As to her professionalism, she obviously sucks!

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

    A Government appointed group like the VRAB who in most cases have no Military, Medical or Legal expertise, yet have like gods the right and responsibility of passing final judgement on Veterans lives and welfare which also includes weather they will get medical treatment, should not be above the law. With their high paying jobs at stake, there is little doubt that VRAB rulings will mirror Mr. Harper’s fiscal restraints and cut-backs.

  7. carrie says:

    Here’s another thing to Major Depressive claim got totally denied at very level thanks to VRAB. My lawyer disagreed the ruling, I got tossed to the wayside told to pay to take it to Federal Court within 30 days. If I don’t win, I end up paying their court costs as well as mine. Majority of claims denied and sent to Federal Court get sent back to VRAB with strong recommendations from real actual judges on how to decide and rule on the cases. That they are a muck up from day one and everyone is shaking their heads through all the pain, emotionally, physically, financially that the soldiers have to endure while these sad sacks don’t know what their doing and have to get told how to do it by real judges. Mr. Blaney-do the job you were put there to do.VRAB needs to go!

  8. Gary Goode says:

    Sadly, Mr. Blaney is doing the exact job he was appointed to do. Those who were appointed to the VRAB, are doing the exact job they were hired to do. It is unfortunate, but when we consider the bigger picture from this present governments perspective, we can better understand the realities that affect Canada’s veterans.

    If VAC were to approve a disability pension application for Depleted Uranium, it would open the flood gates for countless more. The same applies to Gagetown Agent Orange victims, PTSD victims and many more. When the Harper government took Ellen Riley in 2006 directly from the chemical industry and appointed her to the VRAB to sit in judgement and rule on Agent Orange disability applications, they did it for one reason only. To save money.

    The game plan for how VAC and VRAB is run, comes from the top. Advisors and bureaucrats draw up the game plans then runs it by the Ministers and the Prime Minister who endorse the game plan, if there is a fiscal gain.

    Don’t be fooled. When we enlisted in the armed forces we were given an number, our service number. When we got injured or sick because of our service and applied to VAC for a disability pension, we were given an other number, our file number. All we have ever been and all we ever will be to the government, is an number and our government knows the numbers game.

    If we want to change the momentum of this game, we have to change our game plan. If it is numbers that they understand, then we need to attack them with numbers, big numbers. To date our players have been spread all over the field, with a few people protesting in Ottawa, a few in Calgary, a few here and everywhere. If we want to win this game, we must face them on their home field with very large numbers and we must be persistent and relentless, for it is the only thing that they understand. They will cower away.

  9. Mr Harper with his blue sweater & warm smile can make anyone think he is as pure as the driven snow but the mask is going to be taken off by the Canadian Veterans in the near future! I will make myself available for this event & if all other Veterans can do the same, We will plug Ottawa solid with a Veterans movement as early as the summer of 2012.
    Nothing will make the government care for or respect our Veterans, They have made it very clear that the tax base is for them, Their friends & their retirement. our choppers are for their fishing trips, Our money is for their lavish expenses i guess because they think they work hard enough to deserve it?!
    It’s time to show all of the pigs at the trough that enough is enough! Perhaps they would take a turn at the front line & let the Soldiers go fishing?
    wake up Harper, the last thing you wan’t to do is disrespect a combat Veteran!
    Pro Patria
    Wayne DeHaan.
    RCR Retired.

    • kathy says:

      Will you be posting when to go to this protest? It IS definately time to let them know that we can no longer put up with the unfairness of it all. I would love to see all Veterans and still serving members attend because it is also their future also!

      • Wayne DeHaan says:

        Hi Kathy. I am sure that any gathering of this type will be available on media like Facebook, twitter & many others. I will be spreading the word once I hear of a date!
        The only thing that might hinder me is a sick wife with stage 4 cancer!
        pro Patria!

  10. Wayne and Kathy, when such a movement is organized, even if it is outside the national protest planned for November 2012, I will be posting dates and arrangements for both events.


  11. Kit Crissey says:

    *This web site is really a walk-through for all of the info you wanted about this and didn’t know who to ask. Glimpse here, and you’ll definitely discover it.

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