Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

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Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by Trooper on Wed 11 May 2016, 05:54

The head of the Canadian Forces says he understands it is “gut-wrenching” for some disabled soldiers to be discharged as a result of their injuries, but the military will maintain its rule that all members must be physically and mentally able to deploy anywhere, at any time.

Many military men and women who served in Afghanistan have been forced to return to civilian life because their wounds left them unable to meet a number of fundamental military tasks or to deploy on short notice to any geographical location. It is known as the universality of service rule, and some former soldiers say it caused them more anguish than their actual injuries, and some with mental problems say they suffered in silence out of fear they would be discharged if they came forward.

But General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said there are many reasons why the standard cannot be dropped, even for those who were permanently injured in the line of duty yet are capable of performing a job in Canada.

“We are a small armed forces; everybody’s got to be able to pitch in all the way,” Gen. Vance said in a telephone interview on Tuesday with The Globe and Mail.

Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr held a two-day meeting with representatives of veterans associations in Ottawa this week that included a question-and-answer session that was open to the public.

Brian McKenna, a former warrant officer from New Westminster, B.C., asked if there was any way that the universality of service rule could be changed to accommodate people like him who did not want their military careers to end.

“As someone who has been removed from the military – against my own will, essentially – that was actually the hardest day of my career,” said Mr. McKenna, a veteran of multiple deployments who was discharged as a result of a long-standing neck injury, posttraumatic stress disorder and a gastrointestinal issue he picked up in Afghanistan.

“Is there any way that we can review the strictness of the rule of universality of service?” he asked. “Is there not a way we can be retaining more of these people in the Forces, in either civilian jobs that are within [the Defence Department] or in some other way that we get to serve Canada?”

Mr. Hehr did not answer the question directly. When it was posed to him again later during a news conference, he said he is working with Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to ensure that disabled soldiers get the help they need to stay in the military and, when that is not possible, to make an easier transition to civilian life.

Gen. Vance agreed that the process of humanely discharging disabled soldiers needs improvement. The military, he said, is working diligently with Veterans Affairs Canada on “this whole issue of closing the gaps and seams as one transitions from healthy activity service to transition out to retirement. I think we could do a better job at that.”

But “it’s unlikely that we’ll change the universality of service policy,” Gen. Vance said. “It is gut-wrenching for them to have to leave. But one of the reasons they joined as a soldier in the first place is because they were joining a high-performance organization that gets things done for the country.”

Even in domestic deployments, it would be impractical to go through the ranks to figure out which members of the military were capable of actively taking part, the general explained.

And if the Canadian Forces allowed its disabled members to stay on in a less strenuous capacity, people who want to join the military but are incapable of meeting the universality of service standards would argue that they should not be prevented from enlisting. “What would happen,” Gen. Vance asked, “if we were now required to accept people in as brand-new recruits who were also incapable of doing a full range of military tasks?”

In addition, he said, a career in the Canadian Forces would not be satisfying for someone who is constrained by their disability. “You are going to be limited,” he said. “And that’s not fair to them and to those who are relying on them to do the job.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/discharge-rule-for-disabled-soldiers-must-stay-in-place-general-says/article29970146/
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by bigrex on Wed 11 May 2016, 07:39

What a load of BS from Vance. First of all, they are not going to be forced to accept new recruits that are disabled or unfit, because the ones who are allowed to remain, are only disabled due to their service. It would be a sign of respect for their sacrifice, not a human rights issue. And until he is disabled, he has no right to say whether a continued career in the CF, in a different capacity, would be satisfying or not. Not everyone needs to be a front line soldier or sailor. Vance could still do his job if he was in a wheelchair. Even when an entire unit is deployed, it doesn't send 100% of their personnel. There is always a contingent that remains at home to deal with paperwork, and family issues of those deployed.

But if they refuse to make those changes, then they should be prepared to pay up. If a person is injured and being medically released, they should not face further penalties to their CF pensions. End the 2% deduction for every year less than 20, that was served. Pay the full 40% pension for those released while on an IE, and a 30% pension for those released while on a BE.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by teentitan on Wed 11 May 2016, 11:21

Well Rex I agree with your statement and I also agree with Vance.

Canada is a small military and every job number assigned to every CF member is important and must be deployable.

One very important issue that is always absent from the CF's explanation is how would Cpl Bloggins, who deploys, feel if Cpl Wiggins, who cannot deploy due to a severy injury, gets promoted to Mcpl?

What kind of message would that promotion send to the deployable troops?

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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by Guest on Wed 11 May 2016, 12:38

ya I worked for Vance before great guy . very relaxed when its time and very go get em when it was time . he believes in fit fit fit . if I recall correctly it was him that brought in the JTF fitness standard to 2RCR and busted or not EVERYONE was to participate in BN PT cook to chief if ya cant do what was planed you could do something.

I thought that was great and I can tell ya that statement was not a marching order one from the MVA this is something he truly believes and I agree .

propat


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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by bigrex on Wed 11 May 2016, 13:06

There are always jobs on the back lines, in offices across the country, even in reserve units, that could be filled with those that are unable to deploy any more. Maybe there could be caveats to these types of continued employment, such as no promotions, and are only offered to those injured while in an SDA. So those who get injured while on base or routine deployments, while still eligible for benefits from VAC, would still be subject to an early medical release. Not everyone will even take the opportunity, but it should at least be on the table. And those that are released, should get the pension that would have received if they finished their contracts, with a minimum threshold of 25-30% for those injured early in their career. I know that when I was involuntarily medically released, I lost out on almost $500/month from my pension because of the unfair deduction.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by Trooper on Wed 11 May 2016, 13:11

Well one thing the general points out here is that all members must be physically and mentally able to deploy anywhere , at any time.

He certainly reiterates what I have been saying all along , and that is that "All Forces Members" sign the line to answer the call of duty or war regardless the trade , regardless of the front line combat deployments.
This is what makes us unique in our careers , it clearly without a doubt separates us from the outside civilian career environment.
In other words he is saying we all fall under the same "Umbrella".

Therefore I think or truly believe that it is unfair to stand by a system that is geared towards the categorization of medically released forces members when they are medically released in terms of the disability benefits they are to receive.

That's why we had the pension act in place , it kept all medically released forces members under the same "Umbrella"

One Veteran ! One Standard !
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by teentitan on Wed 11 May 2016, 13:30

Rex all the points you made were discussed about 15-17 years ago and because the CF is a small military they cannot make special units, download to reserves, or no promotion. Every position in the Reg Force and Reserves is important and needs to be ready to deploy.

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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by bigrex on Wed 11 May 2016, 15:41

Even combat units that are deployed will keep a handful of personnel home for administrative duties. There is no reason that each unit could not employ a couple of these wounded soldiers for that very purpose. Or retrain them to work in the BOR, or base hospitals. or if experienced enough, instructing the younger soldiers. An instructor at the fleet school for example, does not need the use of his legs to teach radio procedure. And they will never be told to deploy all the instructors at the same time. All I know is that often the decision to medically release a member is made long before they know if there will be any long term affects to the soldiers ability to deploy. Just look at single and double amputees that are now running marathons. Having a disability doesn't always have to be a handicap.


Last edited by bigrex on Wed 11 May 2016, 16:00; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by teentitan on Wed 11 May 2016, 15:48

Rex I totally agree with your ideas. I'd love to see it happen.

But the reality is the cost. Borden is about 1 to 1 1/2 years behind in training. At the height of the Afghan conflict they were 3 years behind because instructors were deployed.

The idea of hiring vets or retired CF with instructors experience did not fall on deaf ears. It was the cost.

I don't think even the Libs will go down this road. I discussed this with VAC/DND/TB back in 2000 under Chretien/Martin and they all said the same thing. If the position is created, money budgeted then veterans and injured vets can apply like everyone else in Canada.

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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by bigrex on Wed 11 May 2016, 16:14

It's not about creating positions, but actively moving these individuals into existing positions where they can still be productive members of the military. No unit, other than the ships, deploys at 100%. And no single MOC will deploy at 100% either. But if they refuse to budge, and allow them to complete their contracts, then those individuals should not be further penalized by having their pensions reduced through no fault, or choice, of their own.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by teentitan on Wed 11 May 2016, 16:22

Rex I totally agree with you but if you look at your example of not shipping 100% of the unit that is SOP for if you have an injury/death on the deployment and you go back to fill that lost position. You can't because you have non-deployable CF members.

Until the GoC jacks the number on CF personnel the CF is just barely getting by. Remember the multiple tours in the 90's? CF numbers went down but deployments went up. So positions have to be created.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by RCN-Retired on Wed 11 May 2016, 22:18

I must agree with General Vance, the size of our armed forces is so small that there is pretty much one job per one person. I also agree that if we allowed permenantly broken soldiers to take admin or training billets others will be adversely effected in that rotation for such things as the sea/shore ratio or equivalent in the Army and Air Force would have the same people never getting a break because there would not be a place for them to be posted to. If we kept the broken soldiers in that there would soon be a human rights issue that would succeed and things would open for disabled recruits. I say this cause when I joined you had to be under a certain age (25) and not owe more then $500. Human rights got hold and then we were seeing 45 year old recruits coming in on a privates pay and one I had work for me had 6 kids all in school. This guy could not be deployed because the wife bitched and complained to the admiral that she needed her husband home. In this loosey goosey society that we reside the bleeding heart courts will see things such that could jeopardize the whole vialbity of being an effective force with what little we have. I do though Rex agree that there should be no deduction on pension.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by RobbieRoyal on Sun 05 Jun 2016, 09:14

Cut and dried troops we joined to fight, the machine prep'd us to fight. Can't fight get out, the machine doesn't train to die or become injured, it hires other entities to fix or process those that cannot produce efforts in maintaining the momentum period. Saying that the standard has to be a standard regardless, no retention of Joe because Joe is a good guy, can't fight get out stop the double dipping while serving.
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Re: Discharge rule for disabled soldiers must stay in place, general says

Post by Guest on Sun 05 Jun 2016, 09:17

yup .

propat

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Ottawa defends fit-to-serve rule that advocates say deters ill soldiers from seeking help

Post by Trooper on Thu 03 Nov 2016, 05:46

Ottawa defends fit-to-serve rule that advocates say deters ill soldiers from seeking help

The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Nov. 03, 2016 5:00AM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Nov. 03, 2016 12:31AM EDT

The federal government is defending the Canadian Forces’ fit-to-serve rule, which has led to the expulsion of nearly 7,000 ill and wounded members over the past five years – many of them Afghanistan war veterans who wanted to remain in the military.

The policy known as universality of service has long been criticized as too stringent, forcing out members as they cope with job-related injuries and mental illness, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans’ advocates argue the rule – which requires soldiers, sailors and air force personnel be capable of deploying at all times – deters some ill soldiers from seeking help, because they worry they’ll be discharged from the military.

A Canadian Forces working group has been studying the issue for more than two years, but change does not appear on the horizon. In a statement of defence submitted in response to legal action from injured veteran Louise Groulx, the Liberal government maintains the military’s employment standard is not discriminatory and is supported by the Canadian Human Rights Act.

Lawyers for the government also argue that the rule doesn’t demand military members be capable of serving in combat. Rather, they need to be “fit, employable without significant limitations and deployable for operational duties.”

Ottawa’s legal position buttresses comments made by General Jonathan Vance, the Chief of the Defence Staff, earlier this year. In May, Gen. Vance told The Globe and Mail there are many reasons the standard cannot be dropped, even for those who have been permanently injured in the line of duty, such as on the Afghanistan mission, but are still able to perform a job in Canada. “We are a small armed forces; everybody’s got to be able to pitch in all the way.”

Ms. Groulx’s lawyer, Corey Shefman, called the requirement that all 60,000-plus regular force members be ready to deploy any time “ridiculous.” He noted that there are many military jobs that don’t involve serving overseas.

“The Canadian Forces, like every other employer, needs to make reasonable accommodation for these soldiers and veterans,” Mr. Shefman said. “The Canadian people and the Canadian government owe a duty to our soldiers and our veterans for the risks that they put themselves in every day and for the service that they are giving to the country.”

Before becoming an air force instructor and aeromedical technician, Ms. Groulx was a medic and served in Haiti in 1995, part of Canada’s contribution to a United Nations mission. Her last job, which was based in Winnipeg, involved teaching pilots how to deal with medical emergencies and was unlikely to ever require her to work overseas, Mr. Shefman said.

The air-force instructor suffered a serious spinal injury in 1999, while participating in a military baseball game. She underwent six surgeries over 14 years, but was left with mobility problems, according to her statement of claim. She also experienced depression and PTSD, the claim adds.

While she returned to work and wanted to remain in the Forces, she was medically released in June, 2009. The retired master corporal’s lawsuit alleges the Forces’ universality-of-service rule violated her Charter rights.

“The fact is this is the 21st century. The American air force managed to put a double-amputee pilot back in his fighter jet and flying missions. If they can do that, I don’t see any good reasons why the Canadian Forces can’t put a person like Louise … in her non-deployable position,” Mr. Shefman contended.

The Forces’ universality-of-service working group was created in response to concerns that the rule was forcing too many ill and wounded members out of the military. The group last met in September to review findings from focus groups, and is scheduled to meet again in November, said military spokeswoman Jessica Lamirande. The focus groups helped identify “common and essential minimum operational standards” for Forces members, she said. It’s unclear when the review will wrap up.

Medical discharges hit a 17-year high in the 2014 fiscal year, with 1,908 personnel deemed unfit for duty – a 52-per cent increase from the year before, according to figures provided by the Forces. Last fiscal year, 1,533 members were dismissed from the military for medical reasons, which is far higher than before the Afghanistan war. Between 1999 and 2002, no more than 722 personnel were expelled in a single year.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/canadian-government-defends-military-fit-to-serve-rule/article32655133/
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