Author Topic: New Minister of Veterans Affairs: Mandate Letter, etc.  (Read 38284 times)

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Offline George Wallace

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Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #50 on: April 13, 2016, 22:44:37 »
Is this a cause for major concern?


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Has a well-intentioned minister of veterans affairs been co-opted by a cliché?
Secrecy reflexively defended with misinformation is the Veterans Affairs way of doing things over the past decade. Nothing has apparently changed under the new Liberal government.

By SEAN BRUYEA, THE HILL TIMES

PUBLISHED : Monday, April 11, 2016 12:00 AM

OTTAWA—”Plus ça change…” the more things stay the same is a humiliating truism for veterans. Has a well-intentioned minister of Veterans Affairs been co-opted by a cliché?

This past week, a ministerial advisory group met under highly surreptitious circumstances. Identity of members, their credentials, agendas, minutes, remuneration, confidentiality clauses and nomination process are all concealed as if this were a CSIS operation. Sadly, veterans whose future is affected by such meetings have been widely excluded.

Veterans Affairs and Associate Defence Minister Kent Hehr and his department have applied this template to five more advisory groups and to the closed-door discussions with the class-action lawsuit, Equitas. I have learned that most participants have been notified. Nevertheless, in an email to me on the eve of the first meeting of the policy group, the Department audaciously claims, “membership in these groups is still being finalized and will be made public in the coming weeks.” Secrecy reflexively defended with misinformation is the Veterans Affairs way of doing things over the past decade. Nothing has apparently changed under the new Liberal government.

Yet this is not what Prime Minister Trudeau promised. In a welcome breaking of precedent, cabinet ministers’ mandate letters were made public. They are an inspiration of open and accountable government. “It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default,” the mandate letter stresses.

Even under the Conservatives, almost every other federal department established advisory groups which often seek public nominations of individuals with an expertise in the relevant area. Advisory groups to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hold open hearings, accepting public input. The Ottawa Police Board holds monthly public meetings during which the public may express their “needs, concerns and priorities.” Isn’t such openness and transparency the bare minimum to ensure government “remains focused upon the people it serves”?

Unlike post-World War II, current Veterans Affairs programs predominantly serve only injured and disabled veterans. Yet, Hehr has included individuals who are neither disabled nor departmental clients. The usual suspects continue to participate after being complicit in the current mess. Many come from organizations that refuse to divulge their membership numbers. Three of the veteran organizations combined have 500 members or less. They provide no evidence that any of their membership is disabled. Others have no membership and no expertise in the group they sit on. Yet they are included with a sycophancy to government as Perry Gray of VeteranVoice.info described to me during a recent telephone conversation, “they’ll do anything government wants because the policies and programs don’t affect them.”

We do know that Canada’s second largest veterans’ organization with 7,800 verifiable veteran members, VeteransCanada(.ca), is excluded from the minister’s secretive groups. Its national president, Don Leonardo, is a registered lobbyist, a veteran representative who has followed the open and accountable government rules. Further excluded are VeteranVoice.info and its sister community, Canadian Soldier Assistance Team (CSAT). The CSAT community has 900 registered members sharing information and support on dealing with their injuries an average of 4,500 instances per month.

Along with Don Leonardo, excluded are Perry Gray, Harold Leduc and Wayne Johnston, injured veterans with some of the most recognized and respected expertise in injured veterans’ policy and programs. They are also the A-list of individuals who, along with me, have had their psychological injuries involuntarily or voluntarily disclosed. Senior Veterans Affairs bureaucrats and non-injured veterans have long stigmatized and misunderstood those with injuries, especially the psychological kind. Is Hehr falling victim to prejudice against psychologically injured veterans?

Imagine white burly male lumberjacks secretly meeting to advise the government of Canada on the status of aboriginal women. Absurd, yes? Veteran status does not confer insight into disabled veterans. It’s quite the opposite. Military culture has been and continues to be grossly insensitive to the injured, particularly the psychologically wounded. The veteran community is rife with malicious attacks on the wounded when they speak out. Yet speaking out is precisely what is needed for change to occur, including in the compassion-challenged senior bureaucratic culture at Veterans Affairs. Processes to create programs are as important as the programs themselves.

There is nothing about veterans that requires secrecy other than their personal files. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s mandate letter emphasizes “inclusion, honesty…and generosity of spirit.” Thus far, Hehr’s first steps with his advisory groups has been anything but. Secrecy, insensitivity, and exclusion would be an apt de facto mission statement for Veterans Affairs Canada. Let’s hope this does not become the Liberal legacy.

Sean Bruyea, vice-president of Canadians for Accountability, is a retired Air Force intelligence officer and frequent commentator on government, military, and veterans’ issues.


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Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #51 on: April 13, 2016, 22:57:10 »
- Who shot Kent Hehr? Canadians have a right to know.
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #52 on: April 13, 2016, 23:06:53 »
- Who shot Kent Hehr? Canadians have a right to know.

Quote
Martin Malaska, 22, the driver of the car from which the shot was fired was convicted of criminal negligence causing harm and given three years in prison after a witness in his car came forward a year after the drive-by. 
- See more at: http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/news/3298/shooting-victim-builds-new-life#.dpuf

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #53 on: April 13, 2016, 23:32:05 »
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?

Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #54 on: April 13, 2016, 23:32:44 »
- See more at: http://www.spinalcordinjuryzone.com/news/3298/shooting-victim-builds-new-life#.dpuf

- "His passenger got six months for pointing a firearm."

- Who fired the shot?
- Why the light sentences?
- How well 'connected' were these guys? Where are they today? Any more offences? Any priors?
- Is the judge's decision and case on file anywhere?
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #55 on: April 13, 2016, 23:36:52 »
What does one thing have to do with the other?
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Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #56 on: April 13, 2016, 23:37:12 »
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?

- Look up which 'veterans' agencies/activists donated how much to the Liberal Party. That is who was there. Firearms 'advisory' groups operate the same way. As do other groups. That is how governments pass out money to the people who won the last election for them whilst concurrently using these groups to shape the flow of their future legislation in a 'progressive' direction.
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #57 on: April 13, 2016, 23:39:56 »
What does one thing have to do with the other?

- Well, if this was a gangland shooting, what gang was Hehr in? You don't see soft sentences like that when 'civilians' get shot. He is a Minister now. what did we miss?
- What has been swept under the rug?
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #58 on: April 13, 2016, 23:46:44 »
Innocent people can get shot in a drive-by. Gangbangers aren't typically JTF2 snipers....

Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #59 on: April 14, 2016, 00:00:02 »
Innocent people can get shot in a drive-by. Gangbangers aren't typically JTF2 snipers....

- Too many missing pieces here. A student paralysed by gunfire and we don't know who fired the shot? Who was the shooter, the Mayor's son? Something stinks. Too many people hoping this will just slide under the radar. So, now, a cabinet minister with a blank spot where a gangster put him in a wheelchair for life. stakes must be awfully high.
Who does he owe favours to?
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

Offline Sheep Dog AT

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #60 on: April 14, 2016, 00:14:02 »
Could you spell out the conspiracy to me?  I'm a little obtuse today.
Apparently infamous for his one liners.
Oh Giggity Well...........Giggity

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #61 on: April 14, 2016, 00:15:35 »
Could you spell out the conspiracy to me?  I'm a little obtuse today.

I don't get it either. He was shot in a nightclub district, at night, at a time when crime was exponentially increasing. Allegedly upwards of 10,000 people would hit the streets after last call around that time, in that area.

I'm all for calling the Liberals out when they do something wrong, but this is as stupid as Obama's birth certificate.

Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #62 on: April 14, 2016, 00:20:24 »
I don't get it either. He was shot in a nightclub district, at night, at a time when crime was exponentially increasing. Allegedly upwards of 10,000 people would hit the streets after last call around that time, in that area.

I'm all for calling the Liberals out when they do something wrong, but this is as stupid as Obama's birth certificate.

- Place and population are irrelevant. Police know who was in the shooter's car. Sentences are ridiculously light for paralyzing someone.
- Why?
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

Offline Sheep Dog AT

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #63 on: April 14, 2016, 00:35:30 »
Could you please spell it out for me?
P.S. There is a guy in these parts the cut someone's head off on a bus and after a few years is now allowed to live alone unsupervised so I have little faith in the courts and didn't see a conspiracy.
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #64 on: April 14, 2016, 00:43:51 »
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?

The Ministerial advisory Groups started under Erin O'Toole, met in Charlottetown in July, and then in Ottawa in December. I was part of the July and December meetings. So were Mark Campbell, Jody Mitic, Aaron Bedard, Bruce Henwood, Brian McKenna, Bruce Moncur, Brian Forbes (Equitas society lawyer), Alice Aiken, David Mack, and probably a couple others whose names elude me. There were originally two groups, one on policy/legislation, one on service delivery. They have now expanded to six groups, adding mental health, long term care, family, and commemoration. Only the policy group has met in the new round of meetings, the rest of us are still awaiting confirmation on group composition and the next meetings, prior to the next stakeholders summit on May 9th.

Secrecy has not been a part of this, the department merely doesn't have its crap together on publishing info to us, never mind to the broader veterans community. We as participants are beginning to push for formalized and published agendas and minutes to avoid exactly this kind of conspiracy theory nonsense.

The ministerial advisory groups were originally conceived by O'Toole to bring together people working within the veterans' community to get some ground truth about what is happening out there unfiltered by bureaucracy. The advisory groups are not making decisions, we're not writing policy or legislation. It's a lot of 'here's what we're seeing and hearing, and here are some issued we can identify with x, y, and z'.

We are not paid or remunerated in any way. There are no honourariums. We get reimbursed for travel, meals and accommodations.

The July meetings have resulted in considerable reductions in forms and paperwork for veterans seeking benefits. After that most of what was being talked about got kyboshed because of election mode. The December meeting was mostly a get-acquainted session and accomplished little. We hope to see each of the groups meet before the May stakeholders' conference in order to provide meaningful input to same. The biggest issues on the radar will include the pension option - which we all knew would not make it in time for this budget - the mental health inpatient facility, probably the education benefit, and continued work towards more efficient and effective client services, plus whatever some of the other newly established committees choose to focus on.

The participants in these groups were chosen initially by Erin O'Toole last spring. We were all retained by Kent Hehr, and the ministry (we do not know who the OPI is, but Walt Natynczyk - deputy minister of veterans affairs - has been closely involved the whole time and is a good speculation) has picked out new people to expand the breadth of the groups.

What it is NOT is some 'ABC' love in, particularly as this was originally created by O'Toole. Most of the loud noise makers are not in anyw ay involved. LArgely it's people whohave been knuckling down and simply doing work with vets that put us in a position to have some situational awareness.

I am more than happy to answer questions within my arcs on this. We have nothing to hide, and as participants are frustrated that other vets are starting to rip our throats out on this due to poor comms.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2016, 00:50:30 by Brihard »
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Offline Jed

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #65 on: April 14, 2016, 00:52:39 »
Thanks for the update Brihard.
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Offline TCBF

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #66 on: April 14, 2016, 01:02:15 »
Could you please spell it out for me?
P.S. There is a guy in these parts the cut someone's head off on a bus and after a few years is now allowed to live alone unsupervised so I have little faith in the courts and didn't see a conspiracy.

- But everyone knows who he is, how crazy he is/was, and where he is now. He was bat crap crazy, not a gangster.
- This wasn't a bar fight or two drunks fighting over a Lee Enfield in a hunt camp, it has a handgun in a car fired by a person in a car at a person in another car. We hand out stiffer penalties for animal cruelty.
Now, I acknowledge that we did not know the victim then, but if this happened tomorrow to one of our own, this whole site would collapse from the vitriol concerning the sentencing.
- More of a curiosity than a conspiracy. But, odd, none the less. Who shot him? Why? Why the half-hearted response to the shooting for all concerned? Such responses are usually reserved for incidents where both conflicting sides belong to a 'high risk lifestyle'.
"Disarming the Canadian public is part of the new humanitarian social agenda."   - Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axeworthy at a Gun Control conference in Oslo, Norway in 1998.


"I didn’t feel that it was an act of violence; you know, I felt that it was an act of liberation, that’s how I felt you know." - Ann Hansen, Canadian 'Urban Guerrilla'(one of the "Squamish Five")

Offline Pusser

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #67 on: April 14, 2016, 07:12:21 »
Is Mr Bruyea's article implying that only injured veterans have the right to be involved in these discussions?  Veterans Affairs is  concerned with all veterans, not just the injured ones.
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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #68 on: April 14, 2016, 07:18:46 »
Thanks for the update Brihard.

I'll second that.   :salute:

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #69 on: April 14, 2016, 09:14:07 »
Is Mr Bruyea's article implying that only injured veterans have the right to be involved in these discussions?  Veterans Affairs is  concerned with all veterans, not just the injured ones.

It doesn't look like an implication to me, more like a direct statement:

"Veteran status does not confer insight into disabled veterans. It’s quite the opposite. Military culture has been and continues to be grossly insensitive to the injured, particularly the psychologically wounded. The veteran community is rife with malicious attacks on the wounded when they speak out. Yet speaking out is precisely what is needed for change to occur, including in the compassion-challenged senior bureaucratic culture at Veterans Affairs. Processes to create programs are as important as the programs themselves."
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Offline Brihard

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #70 on: April 14, 2016, 09:19:51 »
I won't add to the fratricide going on in the veterans community on this one. Suffice to say he seems concerned at the possibility that the ministerial advisory groups do not include a health representation of disabled vets or those dealing with mental health issues. That is assuredly not the case, and those of us who do not ourselves fall into those categories are very much of the 'right' mindset on the subjects. This would be alleviated, I think, with better communications from the department about who is involved. It is what it is.
Pacificsm is doctrine fostered by a delusional minority and by the media, which holds forth the proposition it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end.

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #71 on: April 14, 2016, 09:31:46 »
I won't add to the fratricide going on in the veterans community on this one. Suffice to say he seems concerned at the possibility that the ministerial advisory groups do not include a health representation of disabled vets or those dealing with mental health issues. That is assuredly not the case, and those of us who do not ourselves fall into those categories are very much of the 'right' mindset on the subjects. This would be alleviated, I think, with better communications from the department about who is involved. It is what it is.
Thanks, Brihard, for sharing the shades of grey missed by black-and-white shared elsewhere on this sensitive issue.
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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #72 on: April 14, 2016, 10:46:45 »
5 bucks says its the ABC Veterans clowns who get inside the circle. The original meeting with veterans groups was just a show. There is absolutely 0 reason to keep the identity of anyone meeting with the Minister on collective veteran issues (not personal matters) a secret.

So much for Real Change, and Open and Transparent government, right?


Based on some of their rants on their FB pages of late I don't think so.
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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #73 on: April 14, 2016, 10:48:42 »
Based on some of their rants on their FB pages of late I don't think so.

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Re: Who is advising Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr?
« Reply #74 on: April 14, 2016, 14:55:56 »
I was with him until this:

Quote
They are also the A-list of individuals who, along with me, have had their psychological injuries involuntarily or voluntarily disclosed. Senior Veterans Affairs bureaucrats and non-injured veterans have long stigmatized and misunderstood those with injuries, especially the psychological kind. Is Hehr falling victim to prejudice against psychologically injured veterans?

At this point it is clear he has an agenda and his own axe to grind. It sounds like he is upset becuase he was left out.

That said, since the change in government I have had even less communication with VAC than before if that is even possible. They "suspended" a reassment yet at no time did they contact me or send me a letter informing me of this fact or the reason why. I send them a secure message over a week ago and haven't even received back a "we got your message" reply.