Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

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Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Anneteak on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 11:31

A war of attrition is one in which the aggressor tries to win the war not through direct attacks but by wearing down their opponent to the point of collapse by ensuring they have to continually fight small skirmishes to stay viable.  The side with the greater resources usually wins this war.  Often the defender does not want to fight but realizes they must defend what is theirs even though they know they are outnumbered and out gunned.

Doesn`t that sound like what VAC is doing to veterans?  

My husband is a Canadian Forces veteran with over 29 years of service to this country. He was awarded a Personal Care Allowance by Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) in 2010 after a VAC Case Manager assessed his needs and determined that he was entitled to funds to pay for 24/7 care while I am away from home. On February 28, 2013, he received a letter from VAC advising him of their decision to eliminate this Personal Care Allowance effective March 3, 2013 because VAC, on the recommendation of an occupational therapist, had authorized the installation of a bathlift. The bathlift was installed by the end of March, but he never used it because it did not reach the top of the tub and could not be safely employed.  VAC was informed of this in March.

He is legally blind; his balance is very precarious as his right leg is fused straight at the knee and is about 2” shorter than the left; he has chronic complications to his left knee (he has had well over one hundred operations on both knees since 2001); he is totally bedridden for several months each year and suffers from severe depression, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lichen planus, and reactive arthritis.  In the fall of 2013, he also was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  According to VAC, he was 138% disabled before the diagnosis of PTSD, so this percentage will probably rise once that assessment is completed.  All of his illnesses/injuries are a direct result of his military service, as even the reactive arthritis has been proven to have been triggered by an illness he contracted in Haiti.

He formally appealed the VAC decision, and his appeal was denied.  He then appealed to the 2nd Level Appeal Board. On September 8, 2013, he sent a personal message and a copy of the 11-page letter of appeal, via e-mail, to the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino. Mr. Fantino has yet to respond; but on Thursday of last week, he received a smarmy and disingenuous letter from VAC stating that his allowance for Personal Care Services was being reinstated for up to 59 days per year.

So he won his appeal; he won the battle; but he is losing the war.  He now has to wait for a Case Manager “to assess his needs … and take necessary action to put the services in place” even though the allowance they took from him had been awarded in 2010 based on an assessment by a Case Manager for the exact same purpose.  There is no mention of reimbursing him for the expenses incurred last year when I was away from home for over thirty 24-hour periods. In addition, he will not be able to meet with a Case Manager until at least April when his residential treatment for PTSD is completed, assuming he has no setbacks.  

VAC reinstated his allowance, but they’re taking away a year`s worth of benefits that even they say he`s entitled to and then making this disabled veteran jump through all the hoops again before he will receive the funds.  Then they add insult to injury, the letter also states, “I encourage you to continue to make your needs known to the Department … so that, where possible, we may assist you.”

In addition to the trials of the past year, he has years of denial of payment for doctor’s prescriptions, being told to go back to the doctor and get him/her “to put the diagnosis on the prescription” or to explain in more detail why it is needed, delays with requests for more information, and finally being authorized the medication, only to find he will not be reimbursed because the reimbursement request was not sent in soon enough because I was somewhat busy caring for him, making a living and performing the Hoop Dance that VAC requires of the veterans and their care takers.  This dance puts a great burden on the veterans, caretakers and our health care system.

When he first applied for a veteran`s pension in the 1990s, a VA employee told him to request the pension, that he would be denied and he had to appeal that decision.  She also told him he may receive another denial but that he has to appeal that too; then he may get a pension.  She explained that almost every claim for benefits was denied at least once and that he was not to get discouraged and give up. As it turned out, she predicted exactly what happened for that first request and subsequent ones.

Through VAC, our government is waging a war of attrition against the very veterans it’s supposed to be serving.  This strong and a brave man has stoically gone through VAC`s “Triple D Regimen” of dealing with veterans—Deny the request, Delay the appeal, and eventually the veteran will Die.

VAC will ultimately win the war as all veterans will eventually quit fighting this bellicose bureaucracy or die, and in so doing, release the government of its moral and legal duty to them, and Mr. Fantino can balance his budget!

Doesn't his experience sound like a war of attrition?  I'm also a veteran, an admin clerk and later an AdmO (Reserve), with a university degree and education certificates, and VAC has worn me out to the point that, even though I love my husband, I cannot continue to deal with VAC at the cost of my own health.   Recently, after I argued with one VA staffer on the phone, she called my husband and told him that she knew for a fact that I was supplementing my income with his money.  First, the statement was incorrect, Secondly, my husband was known to VA as a suicide risk, Thirdly, I was up until that call was made, the only person he trusted (after being told I was stealing from him, not so much), Fourthly, if she really believed it and was not just going for some payback, she should have sent a case manager to see if, in fact he was being financially abused, or abused in some other way.  Please note that Mr. Fantino is aware that one of his VA staffers called a veteran suffering from PTSD and told him that his wife was basically stealing from him and we've received no reply; one  might assume that they really don't care if there are bodies attached to their actions and decisions.

Yesterday, I e-mailed every non-conservative Member of Parliament and asked them to read the background material I provided to them and then, on Monday when Parliament resumes, call on the government to establish a public inquiry into the war of attrition that Veteran’s Affairs Canada is waging against the veterans it is supposed to serve.

Thanks for listening to my rant,

One very frustrated and angry Anneteak

Anneteak
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Guest on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 11:50

Dear Anneteak,
Your post is so profoundly written and it is clear that you are a caring and supportive partner in your spouse's life. You have eloquently described your experiences in such an understanding and unbiased way. I wish more veterans had the support and commitment you have shown to your  loved one. We may not have the answers to your questions but I do know you are doing everything and more  advocating for your spouse. I am humbled.

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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by bigrex on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 12:18

I'm sorry for what you and your husband have gone through, and unfortunately your story is not an anomaly. Even for those who didn't lose benefits under the VIP program, almost everyone's entitlement dropped drastically. I know when I was switched over to the new format, the annual bursaries for housekeeping was almost $1500 less that what I had been approved for in 2012. They also did not provide any money for grounds maintenance, saying that I need a new assessment because I had moved, and hadn't submitted any receipts for the new house at at the time of the changeover, and I'm still waiting for the reassessment. I also had A VAC Occupational Therapist submi a request for a lift for my mobility scooter, that fits on the back of my car, so that I can actually go on outing with my family. That was put in in August, and I am still waiting for a decision. These will eventually be approved, I'm sure, but the longer the money is in a GOC account, they are the ones benefiting from the interest.

But all I can say, that as Veterans, we are trained to wage war, so do not give up. call in reinforcements (the media) if you have to, but never surrender.
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Anneteak on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 12:51

Thank you both for your support.  I believe that the only way we can fight this war of attrition is to make it known to the Canadian public that it is actually going on.  Unfortunately, Mr. Harper's every word is reiterated in the media, and it's difficult for an individual to be heard.  I'm hoping that our NDP, Liberal and Independent Members of Parliament will read the material I sent them and at least question Mr. Fantino's professionalism in the House of Commons on Monday.  And you are so right Bigrex, I am a fighter and not a quitter.  I just choose not to deal with VAC directly any more.  Every aggressive act, i.e., reduction or elimination of funds, needless assessment, etc. will be made as public as I can possible make it.

My biggest worry is not for Eric and I; we are very lucky.  My health has deteriorated (diabetes, hypertension, asthma, clinical depression, and arthritis), but I am still able to run my own safety consulting firm although caring for him does take up quite a bit of time in which I could be working.  We are also lucky in that I know how the bureaucracy works, I can write a good letter, and I am stubborn; in addition, Eric is one of the strongest people I know.  Even with all these disabilities, he keeps on fighting.  Unfortunately, not all veterans have our luck.  Those of us who can have to be willing to speak for those who cannot.

Anneteak
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Location : Ontario
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Guest on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 14:01

I feel for you. This once happened to us when our case worker wanted to know about my wife's income and my wife flat out told her its none of VAC business. They also tried to say my wife should do the housekeeping and my wife told them she wouldnt. Never let this people try and control you. I never see VAC anymore, never, I have told them I don't want their welfare like , you owe us something attitude in my home. I just want my monthly money and benefits and nothing else. I am 107 percent disability and wish I never saw them. I wish VAC was like cppd , I don't want these guys in my life.

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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Guest on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 14:02

Make sure Peter Stoffer gets a copy of this post.

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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Guest on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 16:25

Navrat, the future for Veterans may very well be in line with CPP D benefits and under Service Canada umbrella. It has pros and cons either way.

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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Trooper on Sat 22 Feb 2014, 17:28

Anneteak, you come to the right place to share your story, as many here have been through these fights with DVA , and fully understand your frustration.
Unfortunetely, things seam to be getting worse, than better, I have come to the conclusion that as long as the current government is in power, things will just get worse, as I feel that the current government actually truly believes that they shine when it comes to looking after Veterans in this country, and when you have a mindset like that, it is extremely difficult to properly have Veterans issues addressed. I am not saying give up the fight, but simply understand what were up against.
In my mind they are three avenues we can take to voice our concerns in this present setting,
1. MEDIA / PROTEST
2. OPPOSITION PARTIES
3. COURTS

That is just the way I see it today, hopefully come next Federal election, things get better for us all.
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by EZRider on Mon 24 Feb 2014, 13:40

Anneteak,

Sorry to hear of the BS VAC is putting you both through, pisses me off to no end, hope things work out for you and Eric.

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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by RobbieRoyal on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 12:11

Sorry I have been away and very busy, yes not an excuse but a ton of crap has caused me to vacate and get some air. I as a veteran am deeply embarrassed buy that post and even more embarrassed for that idiot that made those deeply profound and disgusting comments to a fellow veteran whom bye the way is offering more of self to her disabled veteran husband. When I say embarrassed I really mean it in the sense that as a CM given the honour to safeguard our veterans the real core of how a CM regards one's employment is exactly that a pay check. This person should be charged taken to court, made an example out. These CM's are here for us and yet we as all know they answer to a higher calling. As disabled veterans we should not and will not beg for benefits, if this continues to happen then we all suffer and the next group suffers, my only advise is to do what our princess warrior did and let the bastards know where she stands. I do believe that an investigation should be conducted here.
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Anneteak on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 12:34

Thanks folks.  I really appreciate your comments and concerns.  

I have a bit of good news though; at least it's good news to me.  Dan Leger wrote an article for the Halifax Chronicle Herald entitled "Fantino a loose cannon on deck" on Feb 21, 2013. (As I'm a new member to this group, I cannot post an external link to this. Could one of you do it for me?)

I responded with a letter to the editor and copied it to both Peter Stoffer (NDP) and Jim Karygiannis (Liberal).  I also sent the same letter to our local papers (Trenton and Belleville, Ontario).

I have had a LinkedIn page for professional purposes for quite a while but have never bothered to do a Facebook page as I didn't see how it would be of any use to me.  I have since changed my mind and have a new facebook page that I will devote only to getting the word out about VAC.  Whenever I find an article that refers to veterans and what we're dealing with, it'll go on it.  I really like the pages that are devoted to veterans, i.e., Canadian Veterans Advocacy, but the average Canadian doesn't read them.  So I'm hoping to take a 'civilian' approach to the problem.  If you're on Facebook, look me up:  Linda Magill, Trenton, ON

Anneteak
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by teentitan on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 14:33

FYI the story you mention is on the main website under Latest News.

I encourage all members of CSAT to browse the Latest News and Older News on the main website. I post as many veteran stories as possible to keep all vets informed of the "happenings" of the veteran world.
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by RobbieRoyal on Tue 25 Feb 2014, 18:09

the Dream Team whoahhhhhaaaa
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Anneteak on Wed 26 Feb 2014, 13:14

I just sent the e-mail below to the PM with copies to the MVA and the editors of The Hill Times, Halifax Chronicle Herald and our local paper The Belleville Intelligencer. Attached were my letters to the editor, my husband's 11-page letter of appeal which gives most of the story, and the letter Mr. Stoffer delivered to the MVA earlier this month.  Can't wait to see how long this reply is going to take.

Mr. Harper

Having tried on a number of occasions to get Mr Fantino to respond to my husband’s e-mail of September 8, 2013, I am now going to use the “plumber’s”  problem-solving technique of pushing down from the top.

I have attached four letters, three written by myself and one written by my husband (VA Letter 29 Aug2013.pdf) for your perusal.  It seems that Mr Fantino cannot be find the time to address my husband’s issues and the Second Level Appeals Unit has given Eric a totally empty ‘win’ of his appeal, so now I’m appealing to you.

As you will see when you read the accompanying material, I have previously appealed to my local Member of Parliament, to Mr Fantino (Mr. Stoffer delivered my letter of February 7 to him) and my husband has appealed to Mr. Fantino as well.  When asked yesterday why I didn’t write to my local Member or to Mr. Fantino instead of writing Letters to the Editor, I replied, “That is Einsteins’ definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  I’ve been there and done that.

This situation has gone on for a year! I’m tired of it and don’t want my husband to have to deal with it when he returns home after receiving treatment for PTSD! I’ve written letters, posted on Veterans’ information sites, and even started my own Facebook page that is devoted to our dealings with VAC.  Please deal with this problem!

Anneteak
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Re: Veterans Affairs is Waging a War of Attrition Against Veterans

Post by Guest on Wed 26 Feb 2014, 13:22

Good one

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