All posts tagged Royal Canadian Legion

Feds love veterans for photo ops, but not so much as ‘a budget line’

Sean Bruyea

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has expressed his admiration for America.  Explosive scandals in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the rapid response provide a powerful teachable moment for the PM and the “hero” of Canada’s own veteran scandals, Minister Julian Fantino.

Although longstanding, wait times for healthcare from the U.S. VA exploded over the past two months. VA medical doctor turned whistleblower Dr. Sam Foote came forward with allegations that certain VA medical facilities were “cooking the books” resulting in much longer than reported wait times and at least 40 veteran deaths. The scandal quickly widened. The powerful oversight body, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), sent investigators to 69 of the 152 hospitals and approximately 800 outpatient clinics managed by the US VA.

Washington is not waiting. Under Secretary of the VA, Robert Petzel, quickly resigned. The American Legion played a key role in having Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resign shortly thereafter also calling for criminal investigations. The FBI initiated those investigations last week. Other veterans groups have widely condemned the VA, organizing public demonstrations and speaking to the media.

Meanwhile, an otherwise deadlocked Capitol Hill rapidly pushed through numerous pieces of potent bipartisan legislation.… Read the rest

Feds dilly-dallying with disabled veterans

Sean Bruyea

Disabled veterans and their families have been told to wait yet again while the House Committee on Veterans Affairs holds further hearings on the New Veterans Charter (NVC). An inundation of unanimous calls for government to act has been obscured by dilly-dallying, distraction and distortion on government’s part.

Government appointed advisory groups since 2006 have supplied more than 300 recommendations for change to the department and the NVC. I provided committee another 55. Government has chosen to play far too much politics with the recommendations or has frustratingly ignored unanimously endorsed elephants in the room.

One recommendation looks to increase the level of the Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB) which currently provides 75% of an injured member’s salary at time of military release. The languishing of this recommendation serves as a sad example of how most substantive recommendations are being thrown into the trash bin.

In response to this recommendation, elected officials and senior bureaucrats have been quick to march out one scenario from a 2013 report. Minister Fantino testified: “In fact, according to the Veterans Ombudsman, a 24-year corporal who is medically released from the military will now receive upwards of $2 million in total financial benefits because of improvements our government has made.”

Two million dollars sounds impressive until we break it down.… Read the rest

Fantino: cloudy priorities in sunny Cyprus

Sean Bruyea

On March 12, the flag lowered in Kabul, Canada’s most costly mission since WWII. Not a single Conservative MP attended. The next day, while eastern Canada recovered from a snowstorm, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) Julian Fantino flew to a sunny Mediterranean destination.

It has been 50 years since the UN mission in Cyprus began. In an email, VAC indicated Minister Fantino will be accompanied by “a staff member, 5 Veterans from the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA), 5 Veterans from the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping (CAVUNP) and two program officials.”

Retired Captain Perry Gray was contingent commander in Cyprus from 1996-1998. He is Chief Editor of VeteranVoice.info, an internet community of 100,000 subscribers. “Why are they going to Cyprus? It is unresolved, a black mark. Nicosia is the only remaining divided capital of Europe,” explains Mr. Gray adding, “we were never consulted on this trip.”

It appears that only CPVA and CAVUNP were asked to nominate individuals. CAVUNP had approximately 375 members in Jan 2013 and CPVA is considerably smaller. However, both would not respond to repeated email questions about the trip or their membership numbers which include more than just peacekeeping veterans.… Read the rest