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A Message to Veterans and their Families from the Veterans Ombudsman Blog

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A Message to Veterans and their Families from the Veterans Ombudsman Blog

Post by Teentitan on Wed 21 Nov 2012, 12:35

On November 11, I began the third year of my term as Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman. I am proud to be of service to Veterans and their families and I want to assure all of you that I will continue to do the best that I can for the Veterans community.
Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of meeting thousands of Veterans, serving members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, and their families at town halls and other events and meetings across the country. Your courage, commitment, deep sense of camaraderie, and loyalty to our country is an inspiration to all Canadians. I always appreciate the heartwarming welcome that I receive, and I leave each meeting energized and ready to do more.

Last September I had the honour of being with some of our Veterans, who are now in their nineties, when they returned to Dieppe, France to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dieppe Raid of August 19, 1942. On that day, in the space of a few hours, 3,367 Canadians were killed, injured or taken prisoner out of a 5,000-strong Canadian contingent. As I listened to these Second World War Veterans recall the bravery of our troops amid the chaos of that horrific day, I thought about how all Veterans and still serving members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP share the same pride of service to country and commitment to duty. That has not changed with the passage of time. It reaffirms to me once again the importance of the One Veteran theme that guides the work the Office: Veterans with similar service-related illnesses or injuries should have access to the same benefits, regardless of their service, and where and when they served.

In the past two years, the Office has responded to 16,500 calls, emails and letters, and handled close to 4,000 cases. In addition, we have produced key reports that have received a prompt response from the Minister of Veterans Affairs, including Veterans’ Right to Know Reasons for Decisions: A Matter of Procedural Fairness and Veterans’ Right to Fair Adjudication. We have also developed the Benefits Browser; an online tool that the Department of Veterans Affairs has adopted and developed further to make it easier for Veterans and members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP to determine which services and benefits they may be eligible for and to find all the relevant information in one location. As well, we have successfully helped individual Veterans in many other ways, such as helping to open up the Exceptional Incapacity Allowance to eligible Veterans, resulting in close to 600 Veterans receiving retroactive payments totalling $14 million, and helping 70 previously denied applicants, including caregivers, receive the $20,000 Agent Orange ex gratia payment.

On October 25, my staff and I were deeply honoured when Ray Kokkonen, President of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA) presented the Office with the CPVA's Outstanding Service Award for 2012 for its “vigorous leadership and effective, thorough and courageous service, high above normal standards”. In making the presentation, Mr.Kokkonen noted “the OVO's brave, no-nonsense stand on Agent Orange payments, the comprehensive and realistically useful report on VRAB and the new very helpful Benefits Browser as “a few of the significant positive things among the many done by the OVO for Veterans”. I accepted the Award on behalf of the Office with humility knowing that there is so much left to do.
Going forward, I want to assure you that the concept of fairness will continue to be central in my discussions with the Minister of Veterans Affairs, other parliamentarians and the Veterans community as my Office prepares for the parliamentary review of the changes to the New Veterans Charter brought about by Bill C-55.

In my opinion, this review, which should be initiated by October 2013, should not be limited only to an examination of the enhancements brought about by Bill C-55. In coming months, I will encourage the Minister and other parliamentarians to broaden the scope of the review to cover critical areas for the successful transition of Canadian Forces members from military to civilian life, namely, financial support, career transition support, and support to families – areas where there are documented deficiencies in terms of adequacy, sufficiency, and accessibility. Rest assured that I will keep you informed and will provide you with more information about the review as we firm up our plans.

In the coming year, the Office will continue to release reports on issues of concern to the Veterans’ community. Above all, we will continue faithfully to work towards ensuring that the sacrifices of Canada's Veterans and their families are recognized through the provision of services, benefits, and support in a fair, accessible, and timely manner.

In closing, I encourage you to contact the Office if you are having difficulties in your dealings with Veterans Affairs Canada. It is important not only so that we can help you with your individual case but also, in a broader sense, because the information that we gather from individuals helps us to identify emerging and systemic issues that point to policies and processes that need to be changed. Our toll free number is 1-877-330-4343.


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Location : ontario
Registration date : 2008-09-19

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