Moving the Goal Post: Lawlessness at Its Worst
By Murray Scott
The phrase, Moving the Goal Post, is derived from various sports that use goal posts, such as football and soccer.
Unfortunately, when the same phrase is fast-forwarded to the present to describe our Veterans’ experience in dealing with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB), Moving the Goal Post becomes a common technique used to destabilize individual Veterans or Advocacy Groups by bullying them and alludes to the unfairness practised in changing Veteran’s requirements midway through hearings already started. This is often carried out without even telling our Veterans.
For our first go-around, we found it long, difficult and frustrating waiting for our Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) decision, only to find our initial claim denied. We were disappointed, hurt and devastated; after all, had we not turned over our life to our Country? Had our Country not vowed that we would be treated with respect, honour and dignity?
What still rings in our ears is Canada’s promise to award fair compensation and first-class treatment when we are injured in the line of Duty and Service to our Country.
Instead, one of the more common and discouraging answers we receive from VAC is that we did not have a confirmed diagnosis from a Specialist or Accredited Doctor. This comment leaves the new applicant with the impression that all they have to do is get the Confirmed Diagnosis from either a Specialist or an Accredited Doctor and they will have met VAC’s requirements.
The next step is to either resubmit our application to VAC to review the new material or to have a Veterans Review and Appeal Board rule on the new evidence submitted (as requested) confirming our Diagnosis.
This is the point where Veterans butt heads with VAC and the VRAB. The Veterans Review and Appeal Board do not care where we served or if we were Regular Forces or a Reservist. Ironically, this is also the point where we discover both VAC and the VRAB treat all injured Veterans with one standard. Theirs.
But, the interpretation between VAC and VRAB’s “one standard” and the slogan – one veteran, one standard – that the Canadian Veterans Advocacy (CVA) upholds is quite different. The CVA wants fair and equitable treatment for all Veterans, whereas the government bases its treatment of Canada’s injured Veterans on one priority: to deny or slow down the process to compensate Veterans fairly for service-related injuries.
The question then becomes by what process VRAB carries out this covert contempt for our injured Veterans. The answer is so simple we tend to overlook the technique.
In the Criminal Justice System, the term “Piling On” occurs when the Police or Crown Prosecutor place as many charges against an individual hoping that at least one of them will stick. In all reality, it simply means that the Crown has a very very weak case and the only way it can be sure of the win is to change the play of the game to favor the Crown’s position.
VRAB applies a similar strategy to its hearings of Veterans’ claims. It’s called “raising the bar” or Moving the Goal Post. VRAB dismisses evidence presented by our Veterans in response to meeting the requirements of their initial rejected claim(s) and demands some other, often greater and more demeaning, un-provable evidence. This is an abusive game VRAB has perfected.
In other words, after an attempt has been made (by the Injured Veteran) to score a goal, the goalposts are suddenly moved (by VRAB) to exclude the Veteran’s original attempt for Pension Entitlement. This VRAB ploy leaves the impression that the Veteran’s argument had a fair hearing while actually reaching a preordained conclusion set by the Veteran’s Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).
The targeted Veteran loses all hope as the more imposing requirements can never be met.
Moving the Goal Post is used by VRAB for one simple reason. It works! It implies Bad Faith on the part of the VRAB by arbitrarily making additional demands just as the initial requirements are about to be met by the Injured Veteran.
For those of you who may not have heard the expression, Moving the Goal Post, then perhaps the more contemporary meaning could be “Bait and Switch” or “Setting Up to Fail.”
It is my belief that Bad Faith underlies every unfavourable and demeaning decision that comes out of Veterans Affairs Canada and the Veterans Review and Appeal Board. This Bad Faith practice of Moving the Goal Post needs to be removed from VRAB’s tool of choice as it goes against the intent of all Canadians and the treatment of all Canadian Veterans.