Serendopeity

The faculty of making stupid discoveries by accident. The name of my first Fantasy Football Team. Neither of which have anything to do with this blog. I just like the word. Deal with it !!!!!!

Category Archives: Pat Stogran

Guest Post: Trust violated, where do veterans turn?

I am getting increasingly sickened by what my Government is doing to our Soldiers and our Veterans. As Canadians we should all be sickened, as humans we should be appalled.  Below is a guest post from Miachel Blais CD.  He has asked that this be passed around as many times as possible.  The rest is up to you Canada! – Nancy

Trust violated, where do veterans turn?

The past two weeks have been a whirlwind of activity on the veterans’ front. Nationally, veterans continue to rally in defense of Colonel Pat Stogran, Veterans Ombudsman and the serious concerns he has idenfied. Revelations pertaining to repeated VAC violations of retired Captain Sean Bruyea’s privacy rights might be a good indication that veterans concerns are well justified. Minister of Defense MacKay and Minister for Veterans Affairs Blackburn teamed up for announcements on financial increases and long overdue care improvements. A baseline income for Canadians Forces members who’s disability awards are based on lower pay grades and a catastrophic injury award of 1000 dollars a month for life was proposed. At this point of time, however, no clarification as to the whether the award is taxed or whether the increase will be deducted from the wounded veteran’s Manulife SISIP LTD payment. Nor do we know just who will qualify for this catastrophic award or what qualification requisites are. As such, one can only wonder where and if there is any substance to these announcements.

Prime Minister Harper also entered the fray and proclaimed that veterans suffering from ALS, some who launched legal action against the Canadian government for treatment support when VAC denied their claims would now be considered for VAC benefits. It is frustrating to note however that there seems to be no real plan or date for support implementation for those suffering from ALS. This disease waits for no man, not even the prime minister of Canada. To offer hope to those afflicted and their families yet have no plan or method of implementation logically raises questions about the true motives behind making promises at this time. Again, where is the substance?

News then broke of systematic charter violations reference retired intelligence officer Captain Sean Bruyea’s Veterans Affair Canada files. Sean is a staunch advocate for veterans’ issues and long-standing critic of the New Veterans Charter. For good reason! The sanctity of his medical and financial files was repeatedly violated at the high levels of government and VAC bureaucracy with the intent, allegedly, to use this information to impugn his credibility prior to the NVC enactment. To compound the issue, Colonel Stogran admitted that the security surrounding his personal medical files had also been compromised and that he also had grave concerns that his confidential information would be used against him. In addition to and because of the investigation into the hundreds of violations initially reported by Sean Bruyea, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart launched the first ever department-wide investigation into Veterans Affairs Canada activities weeks before Minister Blackburn claimed responsibility for the same systemic investigation of his department.

These issues have tested, perhaps broken the bond of trust between our troops / veterans and the bureaucracy and ministerial officials at Veterans Affairs Canada. Let us not forget, this nation is at war. Canada’s sons and daughters are being repatriated with terrible injuries and under such extraordinary circumstances one might realistically claim that it is Prime Minister Harper’s responsibility to implement measures to restore a state of integrity to Veterans Affairs Canada.

The question is, just how can the bond of trust between our troops, veterans and VAC be restored?

First, Prime Minister Harper must call for a full public inquiry into Veterans Affairs Canada’s activities. The breach of privacy violations against Captain Bruyea and Colonel Stogran are not internal VAC issues, they are a breach of federal privacy laws, the specter of wide spread abuse corrupts the very level of trust veterans are entitled. How can a government address the serious problems at VAC and improve our veterans’ quality of life if the government does not take comprehensive measures to study, evaluate and propose changes to a variety of NVC inadequacies? There must be a forum guarantying veterans a state of meaningful dialogue, the prospect of change, a mandate to recommend and implement measures of improvement.

Second. The prime ministerial appointment of the Veterans Ombudsman, while an admirable act, cannot be effective should the prime minister and his government simply decide to ignore/dismiss the recommendations. To be effective, the Veterans Ombudsman must be a legislated position responsible to parliament, not the government of the day. When necessary, the Veterans Ombudsman must have the legal mandate to intervene, investigate and implement corrective measures on behalf of the veteran. Furthermore, the ombudsman must have a staunch military background, strong credentials, an abundance of integrity and an ability to relate to the veterans he/she has sworn to assist.

Someone perhaps… like Colonel Pat Stogran?

Our troops and veterans deserve nothing less.

Michael L Blais CD
Niagara Falls, Ontario

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Veterans standing up for Colonel Stogran as he has stood up for us.

When I first heard aabout Pat’s contract not being renewed I was angry, very very angry. So much so that I started a letter to Prime Minister Harper which would have appeared here at serendopeity as “An Open Letter to…”

The letter has not been posted because I had to calm down and think rationally and logically instead of emotionally as I was thinking.  For those of you who know me, you know that when I get passionate about something I really do get upset and tend to say things that are more of a “personal” attack than what it really should be.  For example, my letter to Harper began…

“Dear Mr. Harper;

I know protocol would dictate that I address a letter to you as “The Rt. Honourable, Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, however I find nothing honourable about you or your recent actions…” 

So, you can see why I had to slow down on the letter – additionally I was “warned” that perhaps I shouldn’t make it an open letter but rather send it along to Ottawa – sorry, again if you know me at all, you know that is not my style.

When the article below appeared on Facebook, with Mike’s request that it be passed along to media outlets by the members of the Facebook page, I decided to post it here as a guest post.

Please read the post and remember that our veterans are not only from WW1, WW2 and the Korean War.  Insomuch as we have not, as a country,  declared war on any other country since WW1, we are at war in Afghanistan, with veterans returning home constantly, facing the same issues that our older veterans face.

Thank you

Nancy

Guest Post by Mike Blais Rcr Cfds via Facebook.

 You can join the Facebook Group at Stand UP for Colonel Pat Stogran and for ALL CANADIAN veterans 

Veterans standing up for Colonel Stogran as he has stood up for us.

Last week, retired Colonel Pat Stogran, CO of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry battalion that led Canada’s deployment to Afghanistan, was informed by the Canadian government that his services as the Veterans Affairs Canada ombudsman would be no longer required. Veterans across the nation were appalled, fearing the important issues championed so vigilantly by Colonel Stogran would be ignored or delayed beneath the guise of Minister Blackburn’s claim of need for a new vision. I can assure all Canadians, there is nothing wrong with Colonel Stogran’s vision; the issues he has identified and condemned during his tenure are very, very real. Furthermore, during the past three years he has truly earned the trust of our veterans through action and word, a refreshing source of support for many who are living with the debilitating consequences of war and peace.

Many Canadians are unfamiliar with the hardships young and old veterans are confronting. I would like to clarify this situation with the sincere hope that once you understand how veterans are being mistreated, you might be inclined to support them at 1100 hours, November 6th, 2010 when we assemble in front of our MP’s offices to respectfully ask for support redressing five principle areas of concern.

The widow’s aka death benefit tax. Sadly, the families of the fallen, already deeply grieving the loss of loved ones are subject to a great deal of financial hardship through this unjust taxation policy. Veterans Affair Canada is not an insurance company and the pension/awards they provide are specifically for pain and suffering, not income replacement. We believe that the families of the fallen deserve the same standard and should be provided a tax exception on all VAC death benefits.

Lump Sum Award. Sadly, hundreds of Canada’s sons and daughters have sustained grievous wounds in action and/or suffer from a variety of service related physical and physiological issues. We have borne witness to the struggle of the armless, the legless, blind, deaf… hundreds of veterans are returning to Canada from Afghanistan with serious health problems. Financially, the New Veterans Charter is particularly deficient. I will demonstrate by comparing the two systems. Hypothetically, two veterans are severely wounded, age twenty-five, wife, child. One receives a lump sum payment of 276000 dollars. The other receives the standard before the New Veterans Charter implementation, roughly 3000 dollars a month. Both live to the age of 85. The new veteran receives 276000 dollars during this period, about 380 dollars a month. His colleague, on the pre New Veterans Charter, receives over TWO MILLION dollars and includes an additional supplement for his wife and each child till they reach the age of 18. This vast disparity, particularly when one considers the consequences of modern combat, is obscene.

Clawback of Veterans Affairs pension/Maritime Life SISIP program. Canadians might well imagine how difficult, if not impossible, it is for a soldier to find life insurance! We participate through a government-approved program administered by Maritime Life called the SISIP program. This is a standard LTD insurance policy that, if necessary, subsidizes soldiers other pensions to a percentage based on severity of injury. Prior to the New Veterans Charter, Maritime Life deducted the veterans VAC award from this payment even though it quite clearly states that the Veterans Affairs Canada pension is for pain and suffering and not to be considered income replacement. The New Veterans Charter rectified this injustice through legislation but inexplicably, not for all veterans. Today, 6500 airmen, sailors and soldiers continue to be adversely affected, a fact that is prejudicial and grotesquely unfair. We have all served this nation, there should be only one standard, inclusive of the financial considerations promised when we have Tread in Harms way on Canada’s behalf.

Reduction of service pension at age 65. Imagine, you served you entire career, dutifully paying into your pension fund only to discover that the government is arbitrarily going to reduce your service pension the moment you hit 65. This is fundamentally unfair, particularly in the sense that all governmental offices, only the RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces are adversely affected by this financial hardship. We believe that this is a burden for veterans and Mounties; this discriminating policy must be repealed.

Agent Orange/PTSD. We respectfully request that a comprehensive program be implemented to assist those who were affected by Agent Orange chemicals at CFB Gagetown for many years. The current settlement covers only those affected over the course of one, even though it has been proven that hundreds, if not thousands of veterans through time may have been exposed. The consequences are fatal, cancers inherent with great discomfort and pain. Many veterans have already died. To deny responsibility and care for those suffering a terminal disease yet provide for others similarly affected, but only during the one-year period, is morally wrong. Post traumatic stress issues have also become an urgent issue as more and more of our veterans find it difficult coping with their wartime experiences after repatriation.

These are the facts and with these facts in mind, I would invite all Canadians to join veterans throughout Canada on the 6th of November 2010, at 1100 hours in front of your local MP’s office. We shall unite as brothers and sisters, sing O Canada, respectfully present our petition to our local parliamentarians and provide him/her an opportunity to address these issues in a public forum. Conservative, Liberal or NDP, it matters not, our veterans need the support of all parliamentarians if we are to change the Veterans Charter through legislation. Just as we, the veterans of Canada, need the support of all Canadians.

Stand up for veterans! Stand up for veterans as we have stood up for you.

Michael L Blais CD,
Niagara Falls Ontario

other media articles about this issue:

http://bit.ly/c3Q4qE Disabled soldiers angry over lump-sum payments (via Toronto Star)

http://bit.ly/bScUR7 It’s time to stand up for them (via Ottawa Citizen)