A follow-up piece by Murray Scott on VRAB’s treatment of vets and colleages on their own Board. BONNIE
By Murray Scott
One has to wonder where Chairman Larlee of the Veteran’s Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) and his Henchman are hiding out. Has he abandoned the sinking ship? Is he following the lead of the Captain of the Costa Concordia cruise liner who was accused of abandoning his ship “well before” the last of his passengers …
It would appear to the public that he is nowhere to be found. In previous cases like this when the Leader of a Board refuses to answer questions by the Press and Opposition Party, you can bet they have been told not to say anything what-so-ever without the so called Arms- Length Minister of Veterans Affairs explicit approval.
We are beginning to see the VRAB members both current and past point fingers and blame Veteran Affairs Canada and the Military for their difficulty in performing their $100,000.00 plus yearly job. Murray Brewster of the Canadian Press reports members saying; “Current and ex-members of the appointed board, who asked that their names not be used, said questioning of claimants sometimes can be tough and clearly stressful. But they blamed both Veterans Affairs and National Defence for sloppy paper trails that make decisions tough to call.”
Recently we have heard Chairman Larlee refuse to comment on questioning by the Opposition Party using the old standby “Privacy.”
Well, for once, we might be getting to the crux of the turmoil created by VRAB. Most Veterans are tempted to blame VRAB for at least 80% of the problem they experience obtaining their entitlement for their claimed pension condition. However, one must only look at the lost and forgotten Mandate of Veteran Affairs Canada, which clearly states that their sole purpose is to help Veterans obtain compensation for their injuries obtained during their service to Canada. Every aspect of Veteran Affairs needs to be centered on that mandate.
VAC “To Mandate:
provide exemplary, client-centred services and benefits that respond to the needs of veterans, our other clients and their families, in recognition of their services to Canada; and to keep the memory of their achievements and sacrifices alive for all Canadians.”
Do we have members of VAC fulfilling this goal? Most definitely, there are members of VAC that hurt when they see Veterans turned down for an obvious pensioned condition. I have personally seen VAC staff cry when they see the poor treatment of Veterans. So the answer is yes there is a role that VAC members play in the process of denying claims. Is there room for improvement?
Recently an application was submitted to VAC for entitlement; the adjudicator sent it to their medical consultant for an opinion. The question was put to the consultant to find out if the accident in question could have the effects the Veteran Claimant suggests. One would expect the answer to be detailed and explanatory; however, it simply said “No.” The consultant did not respond in a manner that would allow a detailed explanation to the Veteran.
You bet there is room for improvement. Just like VRAB, it starts at the top. Mr. Blaney, where are you? Perhaps if our Minister of Veteran Affairs had some Military experience we would not be in the mess we are in!
With respect to the Military not keeping their paperwork up to date, I am not sure that this holds as much water as it used to with the traditional members. One only has to look at the reams of paper contemporary members produce to see that keeping accurate records has improved immensely as compared to the lost and misplaced records of the traditional Veterans.
The one difference that is prevalent with VRAB, which is not as apparent with VAC, is VRAB assumes the posturing that the Veteran Claimant must prove beyond the established rules and regulations that they deserve the pension award. What this means is VRAB wants not only the current regulations met by Veteran Claimants, they want additional standards met that VRAB members have imposed above and beyond those that are required. It is so apparent that most VRAB members have their case against the Veteran made even before the Hearing begins. Perhaps we need these hearings televised “The VRAB Den.”
The question then becomes where do these VRAB members get their direction to pull out all stops against the Veteran? The Chairman of VRAB, Mr. Larlee. The buck stops with him, wherever he is.
- Ex-soldiers speak out against veteran review board (ctv.ca)
- Veterans board member says privacy raided (ctv.ca)