Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

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Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Guest on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 05:40

Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500.

Oct 03, 2016

Veterans Affairs benefits logjam 'makes my argument' for reform, says military ombudsman.

Veterans Affairs is struggling to tame an enormous stockpile of disability benefits claims — approximately 11,544 — from ex-soldiers who are just entering the system, CBC News has learned.

Bureaucrats flagged the growing problem to the former Conservative government just over a year ago. Documents obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act show there were 16,000 applications in July 2015.

Veterans Affairs officials committed at the time to eliminating 5,505 of those claims — which were formally deemed as "backlogged" in the system — by April 2017.

They intended to do it with the addition of more nurse adjudicators and other staff.

However, as of mid-September, the backlog of priority cases had only been whittled down to 3,476, the department acknowledged in an email response to questions posed by CBC News.

The delay in dealing with applications is the source of long-simmering anger among ex-soldiers, who often have to wait until they are out of uniform before applying to Veterans Affairs for benefits.

Navigating the system can take six months — or more.

Military doctors are the first ones to determine whether an injured soldier can continue to serve — but once a soldier is released, Veterans Affairs weighs in with its own separate medical opinion.

And occasionally ex-soldiers are denied claims for injuries that have ended their military careers.

The new figures exemplify complaints of Canada's military ombudsman, Gary Walbourne, who last month issued a series of critical reports aimed at what he describes as a "broken" transition system.

Walbourne recommended a series of fixes, which include making the military, not Veterans Affairs, responsible for deciding whether an injury was sustained in the line of duty, and not releasing a soldier until all of their benefits are arranged.

The Liberal government, which courted the veteran vote in the last election, has been cool to the recommendations, saying the Defence and Veterans Affairs departments are already working to "close the seam" in bureaucratic processes started under the former Conservative government.

The solution they have been working on involves embedding Veterans Affairs staff at National Defence to begin the benefits paperwork earlier.

The department says it has implemented a streamlined process to deal with applications, but last year it received 22 per cent more claims than in 2014-15 budget year. Officials say, at the same time they managed to speed up the processing, moving 27 per cent more applications thanks to the addition of new staff.

An internal briefing for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, prepared when he assumed the portfolio last year, made passing reference to the backlog, noting that Veterans Affairs had made progress in reducing adjudication time from "71 to 21 days."

Sajjan, questioned about Walbourne's reports earlier this week, said he isn't interested in "knee-jerk reaction decisions."

He stood by the existing system, saying proper solutions need time.

"So I'm not going to put a timeline onto it," Sajjan told reporters. "I just want to make sure that we do this right and have a good package that's going to look after our veterans, but one that can evolve into the future as well."

But Walbourne said the new data obtained by CBC News simply reinforces his arguments.

"We need to change the service delivery model," he said. "Let's focus the resources on what's important to the member."

Barry Westholm, a former senior non-commissioned officer with the joint support units that are meant to guide soldiers out of uniform, says the military often does not prepare someone for release until they're injured.

"And then everything is crammed at them, and sometimes a person leaves the Canadian Armed Forces dizzy with piles and piles of paper," Westholm said in an interview.

It's not the first time a government watchdog has criticized backlogs involving veterans.

Auditor General Michael Ferguson, in a highly scathing report almost two years ago, slammed the eight-month wait ex-soldiers had to endure to simply find out whether Veterans Affairs would cover their mental health claims.

Department officials, in an Aug. 26, 2015, briefing, wrote that in order to clear up the overall backlog of the applications they would need to hire an additional 68 nurse adjudicators, who initially assess the claims, and another 38 support staff.

That request was on top the 18 nurse adjudicators hired shortly after Ferguson's report.

All of the new hires were expected to do "mandatory overtime, with extension of overtime beyond normal hours," the briefing said.

Bureaucrats defended their inability to eliminate the backlog by saying their initial plan and targets had been "too ambitious."

They also had not been anticipating the number of complex cases, where soldiers had multiple issues and injuries.

Officials also complained that in some cases staff resisted new procedures.

"Some staff and union representatives have voiced concerns with regard to potential job losses as a result of efficiency to be gained by the new models," said the briefing.

The nurse adjudicators were also uncomfortable declaring whether a soldier's injury took place in the line of duty.

That aspect, known as attribution of service, is something Walbourne addressed in a report two weeks ago, when he wrote: "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."

A longtime veterans' advocate, Sean Bruyea, says it's outrageous that Veterans Affairs is forcing nurse adjudicators to make those kinds of calls when they don't feel qualified.

He says there wouldn't be a backlog if the Liberal government adopted the ombudsman's recommendations.

"I think it's patently cruel to force veterans to have to prove over and over again to Veterans Affairs medical doctors something they have proven to Canadian Forces medical doctors," he said.

"Canadian Forces medical doctors know exactly the context of that injury and they should be trusted in that judgment."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/veterans-benefits-backlog-1.3781470

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Teentitan on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 15:22

To prove that Gary Walbourne's report is not a "knee jerk reaction" may Minister Sajan should bring Cpl Bloggin's out of retirement and give him a career ending injury so he can see for himself that the wait times are not a numbers game but a life changing game for a medically released veteran.
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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 16:03

The comments by some people on CBC's website on this story are fairly shocking.  Many have the idea that veterans who receive benefits from VAC are malingering, especially those of us with PTSD, apparently it's easy to fake. I guess the 7 or 8 years I've spent in therapy we're just a joke and my psychologist,  who has a PhD is a fool.  And I guess I never tore the miniscus' in both knees and have cartilage floating around and didn't crack my right heel bone or have my arches go completely flat

According to a post by Mike Highland a veteran with 38 years service, Sean Bruyea is the biggest malingerer of all.  He wrote a scathing review of Bruyea's service and subsequent disabilities.  He also shared publicly what could be Bruyea's personal medical information.

Mike Highland if you are reading this, your 38 years in the military should have taught you at least this.....loyalty and brotherhood.  Know your troops and promote their welfare much?

You don't ever want to meet me face to face Highland, because I'll adjust your friggin attitude for you.

Content removed upon request. Anyone wishing to read what was said, can visit the CBC website.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 16:25

Here's another cock-eyed comment from:

James Young

Apparently the days are gone when the young men went off to die for a cause they knew nothing about. They took the hardships in the name of God and country. They licked their wounds and died often totally unrecognized. 

Now never in our short history has there been so much whining like the losers serving in the military today. Why they actually want the same benefits as a Toronto cop when removed from the action for whatever cause. 

Unfortunately supplying the rewards costs money, and the politicos have run up against this shocking truth. War is expensive enough but the fallout is far more costly if the participants demand their just benefits. A November 11 parade is not enough. Or is naming half the highways with reference to some veteran association. The cannon fodder is awakening. Beware. 

× I'm willing to bet the closest James Young ever came to serving is a round of Call of Duty video game style, but he has the nerve to call currently serving members "losers".

I'm seriously losing my shyte over this kind of rhetoric.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Guest on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 17:10

Well it's disturbing to read such garbage written by this Mike Highland individual, Sean is an outstanding advocate who always puts the welfare of all Veterans before himself. Sometimes people read Sean's articles and see that what Sean writes is the truth and he also educates Veterans in what he writes, this Mike character for some unknown reason see's it differently I guess, could he be in bed with the government? There's a lot of this going around these days!

Thanks for picking that up bruce.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Bruce72 on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 17:16

I wish I hadn't seen it Trooper. Nothing bothers me more than the thought that some veterans would choose not to have each others' backs. Or mind their business.

I gotta go for a walk and calm down, I'm absolutely furious right now.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Guest on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 18:42

If anyone knows who Mike Highland is? Could you please PM me.

Thanks

Trooper

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Sean Bruyea on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 21:50

Thank you Trooper and Bruce72 for letting me know about Mike Highland's post on CBC. Thank you even more for helping a fellow veteran.

I have taken screen shots from the CBC website and I am preparing for the next steps. If anyone has any further information about Mike Highland, please let me know as I will require such information to pursue the matter. As in many of such cases of drive-by-postings, identifying the individual is difficult as they hide behind fake names and fabricated facebook or other identities. If Mike Highland is indeed serving, then I will ensure the Minister and the CDS are made aware of this individual.

It is not merely because he posted highly defamatory information about me (false, widely distributed in a public forum, affect my reputation negatively). Like so many who don't want to discuss facts, they make personal attacks instead. Distracting from debating the facts lets down all those who need that debate to make positive change.

This was the exact crime accompanying the Privacy Scandal that exploded in 2010. Rather than deal with factual criticisms of aspects of the new veterans charter and how it was being poorly administered, policy bureaucrats (Ken Miller, Darragh Mogan-both immediately retired 2010) illegally acquired and/or were given my private information from service delivery bureaucrats (Jane Hicks, Orlanda Drebit-Jane Hicks still working, Orlanda Drebit immediately retired 2010).

This information was then grossly distorted by bureaucrats (with no medical experience) with an accompanying plan in place to force me into an inpatient evaluation to be carried out by VAC medical staff in Ste Anne's de Bellevue's newly operating OSI clinic. The conclusions of this evaluation were already decided by VAC bureaucrats and given to the Minister before anyone authorized the evaluation to take place.

Now why can I write this about the VAC bureaucrats but it is defamatory what Mike Highland wrote about me? The answer is the difference between facts proven by VAC documents about the above bureaucrats and misrepresentation of facts (lies) from Mike Highland. The only thing factual in Mike Highland's post is that my name is Bruyea, I served in the Gulf War, I was a Captain and I have PTSD.

Why would Mike Highland write such a litany of prolific lies? Envy of others getting attention, frustration with his own life, professional internet comment blogger for a political party...all are possible. The bottom line is that no veteran who is dragged through the system to prove their disability should have to prove their credentials or their suffering to some pathetic internet voyeur.

I wouldn't wish anyone to have to enter the disability benefit system at VAC let alone endure injuries in their military service. We all suffer in our own way. We don't need anyone, especially those like Mike Highland who haven't a clue, to make life more difficult.

I have asked VVi Web admin to remove the part of the CBC comments that are clearly defamatory in Bruce72's appreciated post. I have to request this removal if I am to pursue legal action against Mike Highland or else he could claim there is nothing wrong with the CBC post since I tolerated it on CSAT.

Thanks again CSAT for looking after fellow veterans and thank you for focussing on the issues and not on the persons...however difficult that can be sometimes...

Sean

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by bigrex on Mon 03 Oct 2016, 22:16

Welcome to the forums Sean. We have your back.
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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by VVice on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 02:05

I wish to echo what TeenTitan, Trooper and Sean wrote about the misrepresentation of Sean by Mike Highland, who may or may not be a CF Veteran.  I hope that  all those who use CSAT will respect the rules of this forum, even if they wish to be anonymous.  It is all too easy for people to lie when leaving comments on any website or on social media.  

We have learned how predators, bullies and others exploit the easy access provided by the Internet to spread their misinformation.  Computer crimes are one of the largest problems that society must deal with, whether it is "Nigerian prince" fraud, credit card scams, or the spread of malicious information.  

Every Veteran can be the target of these criminal acts, so we need to check our six and that of our friends.  Anyone who has trained in crowd control understands that some people will use the anonymity of a mob to commit violence.  We can not tolerate such people because they will get others blamed for their actions.

It is common to accept that there will always be a few "bad apples" and not everyone should be labeled as such.  We also have to remember that one bad apple spoils the bunch.

What Mike Highland wrote can be used against any Veteran.  So please help to stop this one bad apple from spoiling others.

Anyone, who behaves like Mike Highland on this website, will be banned.  

Please report such people, but also please refrain from posting anything negative, even if you are quoting or using someone else's comments.  We do not have to help spread lies and malice.

Perry
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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Bruce72 on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 08:04

Sean Bruyea,

I'm sorry to have been the bearer of bad news. CBC could be compelled to provide the email address associated with "Mike Highland" even if that is a pseudonym. And the email address will lead to the person who wrote the comments.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Guest on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 08:18

very true sean good stuff welcome aboard .

propat

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by pinger on Tue 04 Oct 2016, 17:50

Welcome to csat Sean Smile

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Bruce72 on Wed 05 Oct 2016, 10:58

I found another post in the comments section of CBC website attacking Captain (retired) Bruyea's character by a Michael Shannon. This time I PM'd Sean the quote instead of sharing it on CSAT. I didn't realize that the quote I shared on CSAT by Mike Highland could cause Sean upset. And for that I apologize.

On another note, if Mike Highland works with releasing members in transitioning to civie life as he claims, his bias towards some members certainly isn't helpful and could do them harm as he states some are defrauding the system. Which could be true, but it's not up to him to decide that and publicly accusing people is definitely unacceptable.

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Re: Backlog of applications for veterans benefits still greater than 11,500

Post by Guest on Wed 05 Oct 2016, 14:19

Bruce,

You did the right thing by posting the Mike Highland post.

You are not responsible for the context of what others write.

If you wouldn't have posted it, there's a good chance that Sean would have missed it and this Mike Character would have gotten away with it. Sean is grateful for you having his back by bringing this to light, now he can concentrate on the Legal aspects of what Mike wrote.

The only reason why part of it was removed, was simply because of being a part of his Legal path to pursue Legal action against this Mike Highland character.

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