Author Topic: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.  (Read 38925 times)

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Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2015, 17:50:02 »
Just VAC and Climate Change alone is now $800M a year. I wonder who's going to not get their promises filled when they run out of cash.... :facepalm:

<cough> Not Quebec <cough>  ;D
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2015, 19:10:41 »
Quote
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I am truly happy that we can make him happy - and it only costs 300 MCAD per annum - indefinitely.
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Offline Porch-Light.org

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2015, 10:48:43 »
Hello All,

Regarding the reinstituting of lifelong pensions for veterans, which in itself is great news but.. how can the government give back pensions to veterans who received (and in most cases used up or invested) a Disability Award?

A few thoughts from our peanut gallery;

1.  Knowing that many of the New Veteran Charter allowances only apply to Post-Pension vets and are not available to those with a pension. It seems logical to believe that, if they instituted pensions once again, that we would loose Income Replacements and Permanent Impairment allowances just to name a few. The VIP and the Family Caregiver Attendance Allowance would probably still remain since these are not related to income of the pensioner.

2.   Here is what the Canadian Pension Act para 37 (4) says about the subject: - http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/P-6/page-10.html#docCont

" Any pensioner who has accepted a final payment under any provisions previously contained in this Act but now repealed may, if it is found on examination that his or her pensionable disability has persisted or increased, be restored to pension in respect thereof as of the date on which the amount of the final payment received by the pensioner is or was equal to the sum of the instalments of pension that the pensioner would have received if, instead of accepting a final payment, he or she had continued to receive pension at the rate in force immediately before the final payment was made, or as of six months prior to the date of the examination, whichever is the later date."

In sum, it appears that if the Government wished to return veterans from a Disability Award (DA) to a Pension, there is policy in place for such a thing. if the amount of the DA has been paid in full, then the difference between the value of the entire pension and the DA could be spread evenly into a new monthly pension. Provided that the disability has persisted and or increased.

Basically, if a 40 year old single veteran, 50% disabled under VAC, would be receiving approx $1500 per month under the old system. Under the new system, $153K in one lump sum is what he/she would receive. Let say he/she lives until he/she is 80 years old which is 40 years of pensions, the total pension sum paid monthly under the old system would be worth $720K. Take the $720K minus the DA of $153K and he/she is left with $567K in this potential (pot of money for a pension)

So, we take the "pot of money for a pension" and we divide it by 40 years and per month. The new "potential" pension payment would be $1181.25. No need to repay back the DA since its factored in.

Again, our thoughts on how VA might proceed with this policy change. It can be done and there is law in effect that allows them to do so now. The only issue is that for some, the allowances/benefits currently in place under the New Veterans Charter may be worth more than the "renegotiated/potential" pension amount. It may not benefit all members.

What do you all think?
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 11:02:36 by Porch-Light.org »
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Offline Wookilar

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2015, 13:04:22 »
The only issue is that for some, the allowances/benefits currently in place under the New Veterans Charter may be worth more than the "renegotiated/potential" pension amount. It may not benefit all members.

Very few cases though really as many of the "newly" injured (for lack of better classification) are quite young and while their DA payments may have been higher % wise, those payouts wouldn't even come close to the life-time amount given their life expectancy.

Of course this is all generalization of course so how it will apply in real life, especially once politics gets involved, will be different. You seem correct though; the math seems relatively straight forward and was pretty much what this old budget manager was thinking to.

I have absolutely no knowledge of the old pension system; where did you get your numbers from? (% = monthly $ I mean)
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Offline Porch-Light.org

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2015, 14:16:51 »
Very few cases though really as many of the "newly" injured (for lack of better classification) are quite young and while their DA payments may have been higher % wise, those payouts wouldn't even come close to the life-time amount given their life expectancy.

Of course this is all generalization of course so how it will apply in real life, especially once politics gets involved, will be different. You seem correct though; the math seems relatively straight forward and was pretty much what this old budget manager was thinking to.

I have absolutely no knowledge of the old pension system; where did you get your numbers from? (% = monthly $ I mean)

We found the Disability Pension numbers halfway down...on here - http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/services/rates#disaward

Agreed with your previous points. Will just have to wait and see if and when this all comes out..But its always fun to crunch the numbers right ;)
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Offline Teager

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #30 on: February 08, 2016, 18:20:02 »
For anyone that's interested a look at Minister Kent Hehr and his background.

http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/kent-hehr-the-energizer-bunny-whos-back-in-the-game/

Offline AirDet

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #31 on: February 08, 2016, 20:31:06 »
Hmm. Quite an interesting read. Hopefully his experiences will translate into an ability to understand and assist our vets.
Just because an opinion differs doesn't make it any less valid. Remember those who gave their ALL to guarantee freedom of speech.

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #32 on: February 08, 2016, 20:50:31 »
He's been doing a lot of talking and promising, but I've seen no sign of the changes he's talked about. :dunno:
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Offline Teager

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #33 on: February 08, 2016, 21:39:06 »
I'm willing to give him at least a year and see where things stand then.

Offline AirDet

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #34 on: February 09, 2016, 20:18:10 »
I'm willing to give him at least a year and see where things stand then.

Agreed.
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #35 on: February 09, 2016, 20:55:02 »
I'm willing to give him at least a year and see where things stand then.
I think the coming budget (maybe 21 or 22 March?) will show how much of a priority vets' issues are, compared to other priorities.
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #36 on: February 09, 2016, 21:28:44 »
I think the coming budget (maybe 21 or 22 March?) will show how much of a priority vets' issues are, compared to other priorities.

Definitely a good benchmark. A lot of the changes can't be made without budgetting the cost. However, giving veterans the benefit of the doubt is an easy change, and has not been implemented yet.

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #37 on: February 09, 2016, 21:38:11 »
... giving veterans the benefit of the doubt is an easy change, and has not been implemented yet.
Sadly, because even that will (likely) cost money, that may also be why it hasn't been done yet.
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #38 on: February 09, 2016, 22:27:22 »
Sadly, because even that will (likely) cost money, that may also be why it hasn't been done yet.

They've got at least $200M apparently, just in benefits and programs:

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/01/31/more-than-200m-unspent-in-veterans-budget-last-year.html

Further evidence of an insurance company mentality, deny, deny, deny, and finally relent at the last possible moment.

Offline Teager

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #39 on: February 12, 2016, 21:52:05 »
Not much new info in the Ministers update.

Quote
Minister Hehr provides update on first 100 days
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement:

“Today marks the 100th day since I was appointed Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. Each and every day I am honoured and proud to serve those who wear—or who have worn—our nation’s uniform.

“The Prime Minister has given me an aggressive mandate, one that I plan to fulfill through stronger relationships with Veterans and the organizations that represent them. For me, consultation will be the cornerstone of my approach as I look to the men and women who have served to tell me how best to serve them, and their families.

“Just hours after my appointment, I addressed Veterans and guests at a candlelight tribute that connects Veterans and youth and passes the torch of remembrance to younger generations. It was a truly inspiring way to start the work ahead.

“During my first days, I participated in a number of Veterans’ Week activities, including Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa. This special day was humbling and concluded a week of learning and listening. It reconfirmed my commitment to ensuring that we get Veterans the care they need, when and where they need it.

“Within the first month, I travelled across the country to engage with Veterans and Veterans’ organizations, and held my first Veterans’ Stakeholder Summit in Ottawa in December. Next, I travelled to Poland and Ukraine to meet our Canadian Armed Forces troops during the holidays and to thank them for their service on behalf of all Canadians.

“No matter where I am—small towns, rural areas or major cities—the concern and compassion Canadians have for our Veterans and their families is remarkable.

“It became clear to me that I needed to lay the building blocks for a higher standard of service that will address Veterans’ needs in the years to come.

“To that effect, a new Priorities Secretariat has been created to focus on three key issues that were quickly identified as priorities: improving the support available for homeless and at-risk Veterans; support for Veterans’ families; and support for those transitioning to civilian careers. Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest.

“I have learned that access to effective mental health support is an area in which we must do better. The Government of Canada recognizes how serious the issues of mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder are and, as a start, we’re implementing a number of new initiatives.

“We’re launching a new Operational Stress Injury Resource for Caregivers—an online, self-directed tool designed for caregivers and families of Canadian Armed Forces members or Veterans living with an operational stress injury.

“A new Director of Mental Health, Joel Fillion, has been hired. He will lead the development and execution of a Veterans Affairs Mental Health Strategy; the educational support and training in the area of mental health to departmental front-line staff; and the managerial oversight of the Operational Stress Injury National Network.

“We also hired a National Pharmacy Advisor, Katherine Vesterfelt, to ensure that the Department has professionals with the proper medical and professional experience in place to help get Veterans the supports they need.

“My first 100 days have been exciting and I look forward to achieving much more in the future as we make progress on the many significant items in my mandate letter. Already we have re-hired more than 175 front-line staff to provide more support to Veterans across Canada and soon, Veterans will once again be able to access services in offices closed in recent years.

“I am committed to listening, and doing more for Veterans and their families. I will build a higher standard of service and will deliver this service to the men and women who have sacrificed for our country with the care, compassion and respect that they deserve.”

http://news.gc.ca/web/article-en.do;jsessionid=3d1559fa626c00e82d9dd8868fbb092c8ca38b3dc6f1b63ca6666efdfb963517.e38RbhaLb3qNe3aPahb0?mthd=index&crtr.page=1&nid=1034039

Offline NavyPhoenix

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #40 on: February 15, 2016, 12:59:05 »
"Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest."

Does anyone know if this is the same Tim Kerr who was the CO of HMCS Algonquin back in 2011-2012?

Offline Grimey

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #41 on: February 15, 2016, 18:38:16 »
"Mr. Tim Kerr, a 28-year Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces, is leading the Secretariat and has begun his work in earnest."

Does anyone know if this is the same Tim Kerr who was the CO of HMCS Algonquin back in 2011-2012?

He is.

Offline NavyPhoenix

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #42 on: February 16, 2016, 10:10:03 »
Thank you Grimey. Glad to see that he is doing ok. He was my CO on ALG and is a great guy.

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #43 on: April 04, 2016, 13:53:40 »
Bumped w/the latest: Minister hires retired LCOL as Director Comms & Issue Management:
Quote
Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr has hired Norbert Cyr, a retired lieutenant-colonel with the Canadian Armed Forces and a former public servant and spokesperson to then chief of defence staff Walter Natynczyk, as his director of communications and issues management.

Mr. Cyr marked his first day on the job in Mr. Hehr’s office on March 29. Up until then, Mr. Cyr had been enjoying retirement since last summer following three years as a public affairs attaché at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., with a focus on defence, security, and veterans’ issues, as described on his LinkedIn profile.

Having first joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1972, Mr. Cyr studied business administration and management at military college—at the Collège Militaire Royal de Saint-Jean in Quebec—before becoming a public affairs officer for the Canadian Forces in 1977. After serving as a public affairs officer for years, including at CFB Lahr in West Germany, and as an information officer, Mr. Cyr first retired from the military in 1996.

He then became director of corporate communications for Rheinmetall Canada (previously Oerlikon Aerospace) until 2005. That year, he travelled to Afghanistan as a contractor for a few months and soon after re-enrolled in the military, again serving as a public affairs adviser, including to DND Strategic Joint Staff.

In 2009, Mr. Cyr became senior public affairs adviser to then chief of defence staff, Mr. Natynczyk, providing strategic communications, issues management, and public affairs advice, according to his online profile. When a new chief of defence staff was named in 2012, Mr. Cyr took on a new role in Washington ...
More on the newest guy here (LinkedIn profile).
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Offline Fishbone Jones

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #44 on: April 04, 2016, 14:36:00 »
Ahhhh, so he hired a fall guy to take the upcoming flak of the broken promises :nod:
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #45 on: April 04, 2016, 15:54:56 »
A Bagdad Bob of VAC?


Offline George Wallace

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #46 on: April 04, 2016, 19:08:04 »
Bumped w/the latest: Minister hires retired LCOL as Director Comms & Issue Management:More on the newest guy here (LinkedIn profile).

OK?  What happened to Gen Natynczyk?  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective November 3, 2014 after being appointed previously to the Space Agency.
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #47 on: April 06, 2016, 16:34:24 »
OK?  What happened to Gen Natynczyk?  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective November 3, 2014 after being appointed previously to the Space Agency.

The internet still shows that he is still the Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs. However, Walt seems uncharacteristically quiet behind the scenes. Much different from the Walt of old times right George. However I am quite sure that he is doing his best for us all.

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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #48 on: April 06, 2016, 16:39:54 »
OK?  What happened to Gen Natynczyk?  He was appointed Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs, effective November 3, 2014 after being appointed previously to the Space Agency.
"Uncle Walt" is still the DM as of this post - the new guy works on the Minster's political team, not the bureaucratic one.
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Re: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.
« Reply #49 on: April 08, 2016, 20:09:52 »
https://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/former-veterans-ombudsman-skeptical-liberals-will-175749756.html

Former veterans ombudsman skeptical Liberals will fulfill promises to vets


Steve Mertl - Daily Brew - April 8, 2016

More than five years after being dumped as Canada’s first Veterans Ombudsman, Pat Stogran’s bitterness seems not to have diminished.

If anything, the retired infantry colonel’s cynicism about Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) and government in general has only deepened.

It spills out on almost every page of his memoir, “Rude Awakening: The Government’s Secret War Against Canada’s Veterans.” The self-published book has been available online through Amazon, Indigo and other outlets since January.

Last fall’s change of regime in Ottawa has done nothing to alter Stogran’s pessimism about the modern VAC, which he says remains resistant to innovative change and tightfisted even before the former Conservative government made penny-pinching a priority.

“This government has made all kinds of promises,” Stogran said in an interview with Yahoo Canada News. “I met with the minister [Kent Hehr] and I made very clear to him that it’s a cultural problem.

“A lot of the travesty is what happens underneath the deputy minister’s watch, which she doesn’t have eyes on. I gave him the advice that it’s the culture of denial that has to change.”

Stogran sympathizes with overworked frontline workers dealing with vets’ claims but said the department’s senior bureaucrats promote a culture of “deny, deceive, defer.”

Hehr was not available to talk about his meeting with Stogran but said in an emailed statement they had a “very frank” conversation about how veterans were treated under the previous government’s now-11-year-old New Veterans Charter.

“I have been given an aggressive mandate by the prime minister to address many of these concerns and in the months since my appointment we have made significant progress,” Hehr said.

“The recent federal budget delivers six of 15 mandate items and responds to recommendations from key stakeholders, including the veterans ombudsman.”

Stogran set up ombudsman’s office but turfed after three years

Stogran, whose 30-year-military career included tours in the war-torn former Yugoslavia and and as a battalion commander in Afghanistan, was appointed to the newly created office of Veterans Ombudsman in 2007. By August 2010 he was on his way out, informed he would not be reappointed when his term expired on Nov. 11.

A few days after getting the word, Stogran held a news conference castigating the government and senior public servants for a lack of commitment to the welfare of veterans, especially those who were wounded in combat, otherwise injured or suffering mental health problems.

The event brought the cold war between Stogran and the government into the open. He’d long ago concluded VAC’s lack of co-operation with his investigations and unwillingness to share information meant the Tories were never serious about the Veterans Ombudsman as an agent of change.

“As I say in the book, I didn’t want to burn any bridges but by the time the word came down that I wasn’t renewed I was looking for the trigger point for when I would become vocal because I realized at that point it was a charade,” he said.

Stogran claims the government spun the decision to turf him by characterizing him as difficult to work with, “all vinegar, no honey,” as he says in the book. He was praised in public for setting up the ombudsman’s office while adverse off-the-record comments were planted with some reporters.

To be sure, even during his military career Stogran did not shrink from expressing his opinions about the way things were done in Bosnia and Kandahar, outspokenness that sometimes dismayed those further up the chain of command. He accepted the ombudsman’s job in part because he’d been told he’d been assessed as a “Tier Two” officer, destined for staff jobs but not coveted field commands.

Stogran conceded his personality might have played a part but insisted he was always a good soldier.

“I am very much a strong-willed person but you go back to my military career, I did pretty well following orders for 30-odd years, including my time in Afghanistan, although that’s where the realization that there’s a hidden culture out there, that’s where the rude awakening really started,” he said.

After he took up his appointment, Stogran felt forced to dig in his heels again. He went in thinking his mandate empowered him not only help individual veterans but spot emerging problems within the system and suggest remedies. Time after time, Stogran writes, information was withheld by VAC and bureaucrats displayed intransigence.

“When I approached them to fix anything they basically told me to go away,” Stogran said.

The effort to spotlight the plight of homeless vets was a prime example, he said. Instead of dealing with the results of his office’s investigations, the minister admonished him for not providing names of individual homeless vets, something VAC staff should have been doing.

The same problem occurred with the New Veterans Charter, legislation which the Tories inherited from the previous Liberal government. Stogran argued replacing the lifetime disability pension with a lump-sum payment would short-change many veterans. Again, no movement.


Video At Link: Does the government care about injured veterans?
'This is just a gross political grandstanding effort on the eve of the auditor general's report next week,' says former veterans ombudsman Pat Stogran


Ministers ‘lied to my face,’ Stogran claims

The ministers who held the Veterans Affairs portfolio during his tenure “lied to my face,” by promising his office would be the “squeaky wheel” to fulfill Canada’s promise to veterans, Stogran told Yahoo.

“I was naively thinking that government might be ineffective, but not callous and intransigent,” he said.  “But what I saw them doing as the ombudsman was deliberate harm to Canadians.”

As relations chilled Stogran said he saw no point in trying to be more conciliatory.

“I don’t think we’d be anywhere right now because it was a result of my last act of defiance in August 2010 that the non-traditional veterans advocacy groups started to make a stand,” he said.

Stogran’s relationship with veterans groups was also problematic at times. He kept the organizations at arm’s length, he said in the book, viewing individual veterans as his “stakeholders.”

He holds a low opinion of the Royal Canadian Legion, which he said has not been publicly outspoken enough on the plight of disabled vets. It and other groups are too vulnerable to being co-opted by the department.

“The Legion was asleep at the switch,” Stogran told Yahoo. “All of those so-called veterans groups that existed at the time, they basically applauded the New Veterans Charter.”

Stogran also clashed with Sean Bruyea, a retired air force captain who’d become an outspoken advocate for disabled vets.

In an apparent effort to discredit him, Bruyea’s confidential medical files were circulated among hundreds of public servants. The Tory government eventually settled a $400,000 lawsuit he filed.

Bruyea, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said Stogran turned a blind eye to appeals for help made by a colleague on his behalf to cope with the stress of apparent VAC harassment. He testified to that effect before a parliamentary committee in May 2010, three months before Stogran was given notice his appointment would not be renewed.

“I was never actually at loggerheads with him,” Bruyea told Yahoo. “He obviously had an issue with me.

“I never had any confrontation with him up until his dismissal and he blamed me in part for his dismissal, which is a pretty far stretch. He felt there was people like me that had undermined him and his position.”

Bruyea sympathetic despite clash with Stogran

Still, Bruyea is sympathetic to the environment Stogran found himself in.

“In some ways I think he could have helped himself a lot more had he surrounded himself with more credible bureaucrats in his office,” said Bruyea. “He hired people straight out of Veterans Affairs, whose loyalty was clearly to Veterans Affairs. That was his first mistake.”

Playing nicely probably would not have gotten Stogran any further, said Bruyea because the whole idea of a truly independent ombudsman was anathema to the government.

“If Pat was going to speak his mind in any format, whether it’s conciliatory, accommodating, co-operating or as he was, quite aggressive, there was no way they were going to renew him,” he said.  “They didn’t want that office to succeed.”

Kenneth Young of Canadian Veterans Advocacy said Stogran initially tried to work through channels he’d learned as a field commander and later at National Defence Headquarters.

“For the most part all of his suggestions fell by the wayside tangled in bureaucratic red tape, government rhetoric and the do-nothing culture,” Young said via email.

Stogran is withholding judgment on the new Liberal government’s commitment to redressing the harm vets say was done by the Tories. The Liberals’ first budget last month included measures to reopen closed VAC offices and hire more staff to ease the case load. But It did not fulfill a key Liberal election promise, echoed in the minister’s mandate letter, to restore lifetime disability pensions, saying more consultation was needed.

“The cheque is in the mail,” said Stogran.

Stogran cherishes his military career and said he would do it all again. But would he recommend the soldier’s life to a young person today?

“No!” he replied emphatically. “It was with a heavy heart that I said that.”

It’s a tremendous lifestyle, Stogran explained, but he has no confidence now that soldiers injured on the job or wounded in combat will get the support they need from the Armed Forces or VAC.

“I don’t know why anybody would even stay in today, knowing it just takes one parachute descent and your life as you know it is ruined.”
Never Congratulate Yourself In Victory, Nor Blame Your Horses In Defeat - Old Cossack Expression