The problem with Veteran Affairs Canada? No veterans... 0
The trigger for this column is a Canadian senator! Yes, a senator.
He's a tiger when it comes to the military, particularly when it come to the matter of how Canada's Veterans are being dealt with by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Of strong concern to Senator Kenny is the treatment of our military who have been/are being injured in Afghanistan.
The treatment? Not good at all as the national print media have been digging out the facts in the past few weeks.
The Senator is particularly concerned with the inequitable treatment of Reservists who are injured.
And so he should be.
And so am I. Why? I was the first Chief of Reserves way back in 1978 to 1981.
As an Air Force general, combat fighter pilot from the Second World War, I found myself responsible for advising the CDS, the Chief of the Defense Staff, on all matters relating to the militia, the naval reserves and the air reserves.
Back in those days the Reserves were hardly given the time of day by the Regulars.
I started the decades long push to change that attitude.
The Reservists now fill close to one third of the Canadian force in Afghanistan. They suffer death and tough injuries shoulder to shoulder with their Regular colleagues.
But when it comes to compensation
awards for the injuries the Reservists suffer--some of these are lifetime debilitating in the extreme--guess what?
The grand Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) ministry all comfortable down there in their cloistered headquarters in Charlottetown, PEI, will only give the Reservist a measly 40% of the compensation awarded to Regulars!
That demeaning treatment by Veterans Affairs is disgraceful.
There must be a fundamental reason for the attitudinal indifference of Veterans Affairs to the Regulars and in particular to the Reservists.
The reason goes this way.
In my experience with Veterans Affairs in organizing the huge cross-Canada and in Normandy celebrations for the 2004 60th Anniversary of D-Day 6 June 1944 (I was chair of the VAC sponsored organizing committee) there are no Veterans in Veterans Affairs!
There may be the odd one in the 1,300 VAC employees at Charlottetown, but in the management group I never discovered a singe one.
Instead, VAC clearly has a many decades culture of the sequestered bureaucracy well away from the mainstream of government.
It is a society unto itself with Veterans as clients but none inside the bureaucratic fort.
No wonder the Minister of Veterans Affairs (no military experience, nor does his woman deputy) recently admitted that VAC wasn't ready for the Veterans from Afghanistan.
Can I take the non-Veteran VAC point event further?
If I want to object/complain about a decision by VAC against me as a Veteran (I do), I can only take my complaint to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
Where is the Board based? Charlottetown, of course.
How many Board members are appointed including the Chair? Twenty-three. How many have military experience? Four! And all four are army.
Generally speaking, the problems at Veterans Affairs Canada have their roots in the organization (from top to bottom) being bureaucrats to the exclusion of Veterans.
The only way to change Veterans Affairs in favour of instead of against Veterans is to convert the place into a department filled with younger Veterans of all three services starting with the post of Deputy Minister--if the Prime Minister can't find a Veteran in his caucus to be minister.