How safe is it for veteran to attend a VRAB Hearing on January 17?


Before Christmas, Murray Scott wrote about a very disturbed veteran who tried to set a couple of VRAB members on fire. It happened in the second week of December 2011 during a VRAB hearing in Edmonton, Alberta. The vet escaped but, soon after, was captured north of Edmonton and hospitalized. Murray feels this may not be an isolated incident and voices his concerns in the following letter to Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent’s Office. BONNIE    

Office of the Veterans Ombudsman
P.O. Box 18, Stn “B”,
Ottawa, ON , K1P 6C3

Dear Sir;

In light of the latest attempt to disrupt and harm Veteran Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) employees during a VRAB Hearing at Christmas time in the Edmonton Veteran Affairs Canada (VAC) Office, will you confirm that it is now safe to attend an upcoming hearing on Jan.17th 2012?

Further would you confirm that additional safety procedures have been put into action during VRAB hearings to protect our injured Veterans?

It is very sad that VRAB has built such a terrible reputation for themselves as Mr. Harper’s “Just Say NO” toys.

Shameful does not begin to describe the position that our disabled soldiers find themselves in when the feel that they have no other choice then to take matters into their own hands.

Should you not feel that it is safe to attend these hearings would you kindly issue an advisory to all Veterans and family members attending these hearings? Further, it might be an idea to provide a list of Safety Precautions that we might use when attending the hearings.

After talking with several Veteransn it is the general feelings that VRAB hearings are not safe and that VRAB has brought this upon themselves. VRAB attacks and works very hard to find any reason to turn down a disabled soldier’s request for Justice. Soldiers attending these hearings find themselves in a position of asking for Mercy as the last hope to regain some tiny amount of dignity and respect.

I do not in any way condone these acts of desperation by our Veterans but I certainly understand it.

VRAB needs to keep in mind that we are Soldiers, and if they are not for us, then they are against us.

I’m including a copy of the details of the event in hope that your office can provide us with some form of assurance that our most frail members will be protected from these types of unfortunate events both now and in the future.

Thank you for your help in this matter. 

Murray Scott

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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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2 Responses to How safe is it for veteran to attend a VRAB Hearing on January 17?

  1. Hi Bonnie. Can you post the details of the story? The event is not readily available online.

    I had contact with a vet in Calgary last summer who was looking for someone to go to a VRAB hearing with him, in order to keep him from freaking out. At a hearing last winter, the questions from the board got so nasty that he exploded in rage, punched a wall, and was escorted from the building and arrested. This veteran needed someone to attend on his side, to help him keep control. We found someone, but I started asking questions about these hearings and was appalled.

    Generally, in civilian arbitration and in the courts, the person who oversees the hearing is quick to remind everyone to be polite and civil. However, it seems in VRAB hearings, board members go out of their way to provoke an emotional response from the veteran. Snide remarks, disparaging personal comments, and dragging out minute details of the event which created PTSD, all seem to be considered standard operating procedure. The stories I have heard have made me ill.

    Yes, there should be increased security. After all, veterans have been trained towards violence and bad news will possibly provoke a violent response. However, there should be independent observers in attendance, to keep the hearings civil and with the authority to stop the proceedings if they are not. Veterans usually attend alone or with a spouse, facing a multiple-member board. Anyone would feel ganged up on in that situation. Having a referee present would assist in reducing that feeling. I would also suggest that every veteran attending be provided with a councilor, to sit with them and provide support if needed.

    We cannot blame veterans for lashing out; even civilians respond violently under these circumstances. (one need only check for outbursts at compensation boards and EI offices to see that). But we must realize that these are not normal injured workers. Veterans, even those who have not seen combat, can have a host of emotional problems to accompany their physical ones. While veterans as a whole do not pose a threat, we should acknowledge that there are those who do. As a nation, we asked them to learn violence and to enhance their aggression. We cannot expect them to forget that training the moment their release papers are issued.

    Regards,
    Jeff Rose-Martland

  2. Jeff, I just saw your comment now. We have to go to Murray Scott to get more details. I will ask him, and I am sickened by what you’ve discovered re: VRAB. Sounds like our own country is running kangaroo courts. Didn’t Stalin do that in the 40s and 50s?

    Bonnie

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