Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

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Re: Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by Dannypaj on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 05:04


Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Forces ombudsman says system of determining benefits 'defies logic' and must be changed

Murray Brewster · CBC News

Military ombudsman Gary Walbourne says the process for wounded soldiers to obtain benefits 'defies logic.' (CBC)

The country's military ombudsman says it should be up to National Defence, not Veterans Affairs, to define whether a soldier's injury took place in the line of duty.

Gary Walbourne issued a report Tuesday about one of the most long-standing, contentious issues facing veterans who are frustrated with the benefits system.

"Common sense suggests that [the military] is best placed to know whether a member's physical or mental health condition is caused or aggravated by their military service," Walbourne said in the report.

Much of the public criticism, including recent reports by the auditor general, have focused on the glacial process and frustrating appeals veterans face once they're in the system.

Walbourne's latest report focuses on those trying to get into the system by having their condition recognized in the first place.

Conflicting bureaucracy

Soldiers whose careers end as a result of physical or mental wounds face two layers of often conflicting bureaucracy.

The military medical system is the first to determine if members' injuries prevent them from performing their duties to the fullest. A soldier has three years to recover before the medical release system kicks into gear.

Once a soldier is clear of the military, Veterans Affairs then make its own determination — with its own doctors and a separate diagnosis — whether the injury is related to service.

There have been many cases where soldiers were let go from the military on medical grounds only to have Veterans Affairs deny them benefits for the same condition.

"This begs the question of why a protracted bureaucratic process is required for [Veterans Affairs] to review records prepared by the [Canadian Armed Forces] when it is possible for the CAF to determine whether a medically releasing member's condition is related to or aggravated by military service," Walbourne said.

'We are also working together to reduce complexity, overhaul and streamline service delivery, and strengthen partnerships between our respective departments.'
– Sarah McMaster, spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr

"Members and veterans are frustrated by the heavy administration, the duplication of effort, the lack of clarity, the onus placed on them to gather the proof from [Canadian Armed Forces] for [Veterans Affairs] to determine their entitlements, and the resulting delays in receiving their benefits. From a practical perspective, this has very real consequences on the lives of our medically releasing members."

Duplication and delay

Walbourne has been arguing the case — unsuccessfully — for a couple of years.

He told a Senate committee in February 2015 that the current system doesn't make sense.

Forces Ombudsman 20160504
Walbourne says the delays in obtaining benefits have 'very real consequences' for the lives of wounded soldiers. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

"To have a process to determine what is already been determined, for me, just defies logic," he said during testimony about legislation, introduced by the former Conservative government, to give ex-soldiers a fast-track into the civil service.

The Senate veterans committee was told, at the time, that it takes Veterans Affairs as long as six month to decide whether an injury is the result of military service. That delays not only job applications, but also the distribution of benefits, Walbourne testified.

The former Conservative government chose not to amend its legislation to address the ombudsman's concerns.

A spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr said the government welcomed the report and that both departments are working to simplify and consolidate ways in which veterans apply for and receive disability benefits.

"We are also working together to reduce complexity, overhaul and streamline service delivery, and strengthen partnerships between our respective departments," Sarah McMaster said in a statement.

National Defence controls records

Walbourne says the military controls the service records of soldiers and is responsible for their health throughout their careers.

The decision to release someone on medical grounds is presumably made on evidence and there is nothing in legislation to prevent the military taking charge, Walbourne said Tuesday.

"In other words, the CAF has the relevant information as well as the expertise and systems in place to determine whether one of its members has sustained an injury or illness that was caused or aggravated by the member's military service."

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/politics/veterans-benefits-determination-1.3760860
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Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by Dannypaj on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 05:22


REFRENCE ABOVE ARTICLE

Aaron B.

5 hrs
Nice to see someone in the actual system publicly defining the problems. The bigger problem is if nobody runs the ball to the end of the field nothing changes. Meaning we need more advocates pushing specific issues till they are resolved. Retired troops willing to invest some of their lives to do a vital service to the rare breed of Canadians willing to go to war. We desperately need major reforms in DND, the transition, VAC and the RCL. There is a lot of work to be done. I'm doing my best on the VAC mental health front in the MHAG but I am getting stonewalled.
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Re: Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by pinger on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 11:19

Interesting article Danny.

So... if the GoC can communicate with China so eloquently, why can't 2 GoC federal departments simply communicate with each other, for us? Is that so very hard to do?  It's common dog to me.

For DND to seamlessly expedite communicato to VaC is a no brainer to me

Methinks their tripping over themselves if not their fracking paperclips.
Pretty pathetic if a paperclip becomes your paycheque...
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Re: Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by prawnstar on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 11:53

The bureaucrats at VAC DO NOT want their empires destroyed. Two ministries involved, often duplicating work and not communicating, typical GOC SNAFU. If they pulled some of these fat cats from the trough it would make it less complicated for us, the victims. Pinger, Trudope is playing a dangerous game with China.

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Re: Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by Guest on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 17:06

Personally I don't want National Defence determining whether or not my injury took place in the line of duty. It's already documented on our file, the file that follows us when we get medically released. If this was the case, once a determination was made by National Defence, your stuck with it. It's best in my opinion to have outside sources determine this especially with mental conditions where we all know so well how National Defence tends to deny such claims. Also you could be determined by National Defence not to have a service related injury's only to find out down the road that what was denied has turn into a consequential issue surrounding the denial claim, this works against the Veteran. No Thanks.

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Mike Blais Interview Bill Kelly Show

Post by Guest on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 17:31

Mike Blais Interview Bill Kelly Show.

Sept 14, 2016

Forward to 32.20 to hear the interview: http://www.900chml.com/bill-kelly/

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Re: Wounded soldiers face extra bureaucratic hurdle on way to benefits

Post by pinger on Wed 14 Sep 2016, 17:53

" It's already documented on our (DND) file, the file that follows us when we get medically released. " True enough Trooper. Cut and dried.

I mean o.k... someone is banged up while serving right? It's documented and on file by DND.
They release one way or the other and are a VAC "client".

What I am agreeing with you is that consequential is not DND. That' should be VAC.

Simplest example is physical pain... leading to depression.

Ahh Heck... what came first... the chicken or the egg?
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Ombudsman maps transition system for ill, injured Canadian Forces soldiers

Post by Guest on Mon 19 Sep 2016, 06:55

Ombudsman maps transition system for ill, injured Canadian Forces soldiers.

September 19, 2016

OTTAWA – The military ombudsman has, for the first time, literally mapped out the numerous hurdles which ill and injured soldiers are forced to jump as they leave the Canadian Forces and re-enter civilian life.

The resulting flow charts, published Monday, are a jumble of boxes and arrows that ombudsman Gary Walbourne says underline the need for a simpler transition system for service members whose careers are cut short by injury or illness.

“Medically releasing from the Canadian Armed Forces is complicated,” Walbourne said in a statement. “The burden has taken its toll on members transitioning from military to civilian life and their families. It is evident that a streamlined process is needed.”

The mapping exercise is part of a joint investigation by Walbourne and Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent into the much-maligned transition system, which has been the subject of thousands of complaints over the years.

The purpose of the maps was to show the “current reality,” Walbourne said, and help the government and officials figure out where they could cut unnecessary red tape to reduce the “administrative burden” on service members.

Ill and injured military personnel have long expressed anger and frustration over what they say is an unnecessarily bureaucratic, onerous and lengthy process for accessing services and benefits when they leave the Forces.

Approximately 1,800 service members are released for medical reasons each year.

The steps that ill and injured personnel are forced to take to leave the military differ, depending on whether they are members of the regular forces or reservists.

However, according to Walbourne’s maps, both can entail dozens of steps as a person bounces between different organizations and levels of bureaucracy within the Canadian Forces and Veterans Affairs Canada. Cases can be referred to a number of officials as they work their way through the system.

Speaking to the House of Commons’ veterans affairs committee in June, Walbourne said seamless transition for most ill and injured military members “remains a concept, not a reality, and is fraught with painstaking challenges.” Efforts to simplify the system, he added, have largely failed.

Walbourne will make his own recommendations on simplifying the transition system later this month. He and Parent are expected to present the full findings of their investigation in the fall, as well as recommendations to smooth the transition from military to civilian life for ill and injured members.

The Liberal government has said it also wants to ease the transition for sick and wounded personnel. For the first time, Canada’s veterans affairs minister, Kent Hehr, is also the associate defence minister. The government says the idea is to bridge the gap between the two departments.

Hehr’s mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls for a “seamless transition for Canadian Forces members to the programs and services” at Veterans Affairs. An official said discussions between National Defence, Veterans Affairs and veterans groups are underway.

http://globalnews.ca/news/2948269/ombudsman-maps-transition-system-for-ill-injured-canadian-forces-soldiers/

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