Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Canada's Veterans Affairs says 'Sorry' - Talk is cheap

Canadian veteran Fabien Melanson has been totally screwed by Veterans Affairs Canada. From Thank A Soldier Monthly:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How a Typo Destroyed a Veteran

A Tragedy of Errors
How a Typo Destroyed a Veteran
By Jeff Rose-Martland

-

Why is there a man slowly starving himself in Charlottetown? Because we destroyed his life. Twice.


The first came when he developed PTSD in service to Canada. He served in the Royal 22nd Regiment and was posted to Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkans Crisis. He gave his mental health to his country because we required his service. His PTSD got him discharged from the military and sent home to recover.


He had his grandmother’s house and a bit of land. He loves animals. With his pension he could renovate the 160 year old house, rescue animals, do his art, and, hopefully, find peace.Then we destroyed his life again.


There was an error at Veterans’ Affairs. In September, mid-renovations, his pension was deposited into somebody else’s bank account. He called and was assured everything was correct. It wasn’t and he didn’t get his money. Same in October. Repeated calls were not accomplishing anything; VAC said everything was OK.


It wasn’t. Bills weren’t being paid. Debts were rising. The furnace had been removed from the house and there was no money to put it back. Even the animals were worried. When November’s pension also didn’t arrive, the man had to tell the contractors he couldn’t pay them. Tools went down and trucks pulled away. Damp settled into the house....



Go read the rest here.


Late yesterday came word that Veterans Affairs Canada representatives have issued an apology:

Veteran gets his apology


Sandy Brace, left, Fabien Melanson, and John MacDoanld, sit in front of the Daniel J. MacDonald Building in Charlottetown. An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to Melanson, the protesting ex-soldier,  on a hunger strike for the past 10 days.
Guardian photo

Sandy Brace, left, Fabien Melanson, and John MacDoanld, sit in front of the Daniel J. MacDonald Building in Charlottetown. An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to Melanson

Published on June 14, 2011

Mitch MacDonald

Future of Fabien Melanson's hunger strike unclear

An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to a protesting ex-soldier on a hunger strike for the past 10 days.

A spokesperson for Fabien Melanson, a Cape Pele, N.B. resident who has been on the hunger strike in front of the VAC headquarters in Charlottetown since early June 5, said the veteran was taken into the department by senior officials Tuesday and offered a personal apology.

It’s still unclear whether Melanson accepted the apology.

It’s also unclear whether VAC offered any additional financial assistance to Melanson, who had demanded both an apology and for the department to help repair his house...


Read more here.


Then today - from Our Duty - comes this:


VETERAN HUNGER STRIKE ENDS AFTER 11 DAYS / GREVE DE LA FAIM VETERAN SE TERMINE APRÈS 11 JOURS
MEDIA RELEASE

VETERAN HUNGER STRIKE ENDS AFTER 11 DAYS

Cpl Fabien Melanson (ret’d) ended his hunger strike at 6pm today.


The veteran of the Royal 22nd Regiment had last eaten on 4 June. He had been protesting at Veterans’ Affairs Canada’s headquarters in Charlottetown, PEI. An accounting error in 2004 sent Cpl Melanson’s pension into the wrong bank account. It took VAC 5 months to correct this error, by which time Melanson’s house and finances were ruined and his mental health at risk. While VAC had acknowledged the error, it had refused to admit any responsibility for the consequences...


Much more here.


As I wrote elsewhere last night, 'sorry' is all well and good, but it is nowhere near enough to compensate this veteran for what VAC has put him through. Goodness knows, a typo can happen to any of us, but the way VAC has treated this honourable veteran has been anything but honourable.

Talk is cheap. Long overdue for VAC to make all of this right NOW!


Thank you for your service, Fabien Melanson.

1 comment:

JRM said...

Thank you very much for helping to spread the word. Fabien's case is distressing: not that an error should happen, because errors do, but because it took 5 five months to correct the error and, 6.5 years later, the impact has still not been addressed. Rest assured that we will continue to work with Fabien and try to get his life back on track. We will also be making sure that promises made are promises kept.

Keep up the good work! - Jeff Rose-Martland