As a follow up to a story about one of Canada's Veterans which I brought you June 4, it appears that the Minister responsible is STILL refusing to do the right thing. Read on:
***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
BLANEY REFUSES TO SAVE VETERAN
Opposition Joins Advocate in Condemning VAC Minister
St. John’s – While Steven Blaney was in Halifax touting his support of veterans to the Legion Convention, the NDP added their voices to the growing condemnation of the Minister of Veterans Affairs over his inaction towards a homeless veteran.
NDP VAC Peter Stoffer declared, “Once again Minister Blaney shows his true colours when it comes to the quality of life of our veterans. Mr. Melanson is a decorated soldier who deserves our utmost respect. Minister Blaney must fix this appalling situation immediately.”
“It’s hypocritical of the Minister to be talking about how much he listens to veterans, about how committed he is to meeting their needs, while the bank is preparing to sell Fabien Melanson’s home,” said advocate Jeff Rose-Martland, “Veterans Affairs destroyed that veteran’s life and the Minister won’t lift a finger, but he’ll stand before a crowd and talk about his dedication to former soldiers. It’s unbelievable.”
In 2004, a VAC error deprived Melanson of his pension for 5 months, setting off a chain of events which resulted in destruction of his home and a suicide attempt. The lost income halted renovations, leading to significant weather damage to his house. The financial stress aggravated the Bosnia-Croatia veteran’s PTSD and he wound up in hospital. He has spent the last 8 years homeless, fighting for compensation from Veterans Affairs.
Last week, Minister Blaney claimed that Melanson’s case had been addressed long ago. NDP Deputy VAC Critic Sylvain Chicoine was appalled at the response: “If the issue had been resolved, this man would be living in his house!” said Chicoine.
Rose-Martland agreed: “The Minister is saying that the case if over because VAC paid the back-pension. That’s nonsense. You can’t deprive someone of their income for months and not accept responsibility for the results. The situation wasn’t resolved, it was just brushed aside.”
Bridgewater Bank has now seized the property because the former Van Doo was unable to fix his house. “We’ve been appealing to Minister Blaney for a year,” said Melanson’s advocate, “But he has been ignoring Fabien ever since he became Minister.”
Two weeks ago, the Green Party condemned the Minister. Their 30 May release said, “This is inexcusable, heartless and shameful. All Canadians should be disgusted by this dithering and inaction.”
“Minister Blaney has a perfect opportunity here to demonstrate his caring for veterans,” said Rose-Martland, “He can perform the duty of his office and take responsibility for VAC’s error. He can give this veteran back his life.”
For Fabien Melanson
Jeff Rose-Martland, President - Our Duty Inc,
For the NDP
Youssef Amane, Caucus Press Secretary,
For the Green Party
Debra Eindiguer, Press Secretary,