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Military, Veterans Affairs won’t pay for Air Force officer’s prosthetic leg

Jarnhamar

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Military, Veterans Affairs won’t pay for Air Force officer’s prosthetic leg, leaving her with $34,000 bill

The Canadian Armed Forces says Capt. Kimberly Fawcett was on duty during an accident in which her son died and she lost her leg, but as Mercedes Stephenson reports, the government is refusing to pay for Fawcett's prosthetic limb


https://globalnews.ca/news/4753763/kimberly-fawcett-prosthetic-leg/?fbclid=IwAR0GsaLJcjG1lGsiPDY6zvkl82MtwOlPx0Uq3Aq4vbyPbgesYHzo3e7sjAk
 

Rocky Mountains

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Jarnhamar said:
Military, Veterans Affairs won’t pay for Air Force officer’s prosthetic leg, leaving her with $34,000 bill

The Canadian Armed Forces says Capt. Kimberly Fawcett was on duty during an accident in which her son died and she lost her leg, but as Mercedes Stephenson reports, the government is refusing to pay for Fawcett's prosthetic limb

Isn't this a civil matter?  The truck that hit her must have had insurance.  Did she sue and recover from the truck driver's insurance?
 

Eye In The Sky

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What an absolutely horrible story to read, in more ways than one.

My opinion;  please, GoC, CAF, VAC...someone pay for this Officers prosthetic leg.  If I had the money to spare, I'd do it myself.
 

AbdullahD

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Eye In The Sky said:
What an absolutely horrible story to read, in more ways than one.

My opinion;  please, GoC, CAF, VAC...someone pay for this Officers prosthetic leg.  If I had the money to spare, I'd do it myself.


I would help you.
 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Hmmm.....much as I sympathize I don't see where her personal insurance shouldn't cover this.  Lots of working folks take thier kids to a babysitter if work calls.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Bruce Monkhouse said:
Hmmm.....much as I sympathize I don't see where her personal insurance shouldn't cover this.  Lots of working folks take thier kids to a babysitter if work calls.

The difference is the CAF policy on injury while on duty, duty status if recalled by your CO.

Would the member have been in the location of the accident, at the time of the accident, if not recalled?  Probably not.
 

Cloud Cover

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There was a court decision on this matter where she was successful but then she lost on appeal by the military: https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/301640/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHZmF3Y2V0dAE

The legal costs on this matter are, by far, more than it will ever cost to provide this brave woman what she needs. By that i mean that even thought the court did not assign costs to any party, they spent more time and money fighting her than helping.

This right here is the crux:
[43]      The CDS did not err by concluding that Captain Fawcett sought and received permission to be away from duty for family reasons, whereas the FCP only governs absences from family for duty reasons.


 

Bruce Monkhouse

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Eye In The Sky said:
The difference is the CAF policy on injury while on duty, duty status if recalled by your CO.

Would the member have been in the location of the accident, at the time of the accident, if not recalled?  Probably not.

Again,  so would lots of people in recallable jobs.
I'm not downplaying the agony  of losing your Son and the personal injury, but with all due respect,  would the Govt be on the hook for all of its employees taking thier kids to day care ??
 

Blackadder1916

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I will probably be vilified for this, but as having been, in a former life, one of the bean counters that paid the bills for things like this, there are probably a few details missing from the story.  In the twelve and a half years (Feb. 21, 2006 - date given in article) since the horrific accident that changed Captain Fawcett's life forever it is likely (certainly, if I hazard a guess) that she has been fitted and received (at government expense) with at least one prosthetic limb and more than likely one or two subsequent replacements/upgrades.  As a serving Regular Force member (and thus covered for medical care by the CF) it would not have mattered what her duty status was at the time of the accident, she would have received the medical services needed (including prosthetics).  The same coverage and provision of services would also apply as she continued her career.  Duty status and whether the injury was "due to military service" is really only a factor in care received from Veterans Affairs.

While Capt Fawcett may be eligible to have the cost of her prosthetic covered by the CF, it is not an open chequebook, there are some limitations as indicated in the Spectrum of Care.

http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/caf-community-health-services-benefits-drug-coverage/supplemental-health-care-coverage.page#prosthesis-implants
Prosthesis and Implants: (see Dental Section for dental implants),
1.  breast prostheses following mastectomy, and replacement, but not within 24 months of the last purchase for the same side;
2.  temporary artificial limbs; and
3.  permanent artificial limbs and replacement thereof, but not within:
a.  60 months from the last purchase of the same limb in the case of a member over 21 years of age, unless medically proven that growth or shrinkage of the surrounding tissue requires replacement of the existing prosthesis at an earlier date
; or
b.  12 months from the last purchase of the same limb in the case of a member 21 years of age or less.

So the missing information in the story is "when did the government last pay for a leg".
 

PMedMoe

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Eye In The Sky said:
The difference is the CAF policy on injury while on duty, duty status if recalled by your CO.

Would the member have been in the location of the accident, at the time of the accident, if not recalled?  Probably not.

She hadn't been recalled.  Her unit was next in line for activation.  She was preparing for the fact that she might be recalled.

Do I think her prosthetic leg should be paid for?  Yes.  However, I don't agree that she was on duty at the time of the accident.
 

Navy_Pete

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This is ridiculous.  They have fought for ten years, gone through a number of investigations, and gone to court and appealed this, for $39k?

The bean counters may want to include the cost of personnel spent on this; sure it's probably north of seven figures by now.  Also, if she deployed with it, it's the same as providing prescription glasses needed to do the job, so why are we spending so much time and effort on being complete dicks?
 

Eye In The Sky

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PMedMoe said:
She hadn't been recalled.  Her unit was next in line for activation.  She was preparing for the fact that she might be recalled.

Do I think her prosthetic leg should be paid for?  Yes.  However, I don't agree that she was on duty at the time of the accident.

I am only able to go off the info in the story, but:

On the morning of Feb. 21, 2006, it looked like a double deployment could be in the works. Fawcett’s husband Curtis was called to the base for workup training to deploy to Africa and her unit was next in line for activation.

Fawcett executed the Family Care Plan with the approval of her commanding officer, donning her uniform and putting her son in the car to drop him at his grandparents’ house.

A summary investigation ordered by the military found that, although Fawcett was not at her place of duty at the time of the accident, she was “’going about a matter related (directly) to service in the Canadian Forces’ (Ref E para 29) in that both travel to her son’s daycare and then to the base were required activities to enable her to perform her military duties at work.”

The investigating officer continued that Fawcett “… should be considered on duty from the time she left home in uniform, as her activities were all in support of carrying out her military duties.”

That finding was overturned by one of Fawcett’s commanding officers who determined she was not on duty despite the findings of the summary investigation.

That position was directly disputed in a review by one of Canada’s top generals at the time, Major General Walter Semianiw who was the Chief of Military Personnel. In a review Major General Semianiw determining Fawcett was on duty and following military orders at the time of her accident, concluding “The execution of the Family Care Plan, is in fact, a military order.”

Some important details are absent...but assuming the CO was aware and recalled the member, would not QR & 0, Vol 1, Ch 16, Art 16.01(2) and 16.01 (3) apply?

16.01 - WITHHOLDING OF AND RECALL FROM LEAVE

(1) Leave may be withheld from an officer or non-commissioned member only when there is a military requirement to do so.

(2) An officer or non-commissioned member on leave may be recalled to duty only:
a.because of imperative military requirements; and
b.when the member's commanding officer personally directs the member's return to duty.

(3) An officer or non-commissioned member recalled to duty under paragraph (2) ceases to be on leave and is on duty during the period of the journey from the place from which he is recalled to his place of duty and during the period of the return journey if he resumes leave immediately after completion of the duty for which he was recalled.

* the story makes it sound like it wasn't her CO at the time of the accident, but one later on in her career, that decided against the recommendations of the SI.
 

Cloud Cover

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According to the court decision, she had a conversation with her CO. They agreed that she should find alternate care for the child and she acted on that, even if she wasn't ordered or activated, something was afoot that was reasonably foreseeable to both of them.  This was the conclusion of General Semianiw. It was the decision of the advisors to the CDS that prompted the denial of documentation required by VAC to assist her. Unlike other public service pension acts, the plan that applies to Canadian Forces members is not to be construed as liberally when evaluating workplace accidents or work related injuries and more deference is given to the decisions of the CDS than is given to other institutions.

The CDS decision makes her decision to "ready up" look like an irrational or rash decision, which it probably was not.

16.01 did not appear anywhere in the considerations that are online.
 

PMedMoe

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EITS, military members are required to have a FCP regardless of deployment status.  See here (note the word "mandatory").

You don't "execute" a FCP but you must have one.

DAOD 5004-1, see para 5.

 

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Cloud Cover said:
According to the court decision, she had a conversation with her CO. They agreed that she should find alternate care for the child and she acted on that, even if she wasn't ordered or activated, something was afoot that was reasonably foreseeable to both of them...
The CDS decision makes her decision to "ready up" look like an irrational or rash decision, which it probably was not.

16.01 did not appear anywhere in the considerations that are online.

I've been in situations where I've rightly anticipated a call out and made preparations so that the call out was smooth and I was available with minimal energy and wasted time on the part of the chain of command.
It's incredibly disappointing that her decision made with full intention to support the CAF and give her CoC the flexibility needed to make sound and timely decisions should things truly be afoot come back to punish her this harshly. It's also a stark reminder to the rest of us... Is our collective operational efficiency worth this?

I guess she was asking for more than the government could give right now.

Edited as I have more thoughts on this...

The collective "we" of the CAF often ask our members to do a lot of what could properly be characterized as "work" or "activities to support work" outside of regular duty hours or ones regular work week. I can foresee this decision causing some to start "nickel and diming" their time to make sure its properly accounted for and characterized and maybe that's what we need.

As Garb puts it:

garb811 said:
At the heart of this is the complete and utter failure to fully understand what is considered "on duty" and "off duty" across the CAF as a whole.

At what point does the CAF responsibility to its members stop? If I'm mandated to have a family care plan per the DAODs, would it not be for the purposes of executing that plan when the time arose? It seems like the collective "we" are punishing a member for following the DAODs and having the foresight expected of an officer to make sound and timely decisions when the balloon goes up. What a shite decision.
 

Blackadder1916

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As some mention the court decision in their posts it may be worthwhile to see what it actually says.

https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/301640/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHRmF3Y2V0dAE

JUDGMENT AND REASONS

[1]          On February 21, 2006, Captain Kimberly Fawcett, a member of the Canadian Forces [CF] was involved in a tragic motor vehicle accident while taking her son to daycare on the way to work. The accident resulted in the death of her son and Captain Fawcett losing her right leg above the knee. She seeks judicial review of the November 7, 2016 decision of the Chief of Defence Staff [CDS] concluding that she was not on duty at the time of the accident and that the injuries sustained were not attributable to military service. Captain Fawcett argues that because she and her husband were serving in high readiness units, and because she was taking her son to daycare pursuant to a CF Family Care Plan [FCP], she was on duty and acting pursuant to a CF order at the time of the accident.

[2]          For the reasons that follow, I conclude that Captain Fawcett’s unique circumstances were reasonably considered by the CDS but were not found to support her argument that she was engaged in military service at the time of the accident. Considering the deference owed to the CDS decision, this is a reasonable conclusion and therefore this judicial review is dismissed. I decline to award costs.

And the initial (2012) Federal Court decision
https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/61231/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHRmF3Y2V0dAE

And the Redress of Grievance decision
https://www.canada.ca/en/military-grievances-external-review/services/case-summaries/case-2014-093.html

 

Cloud Cover

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Blackadder1916 said:
As some mention the court decision in their posts it may be worthwhile to see what it actually says.

https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/301640/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHRmF3Y2V0dAE

And the initial (2012) Federal Court decision
https://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/fc-cf/decisions/en/item/61231/index.do?r=AAAAAQAHRmF3Y2V0dAE

And the Redress of Grievance decision
https://www.canada.ca/en/military-grievances-external-review/services/case-summaries/case-2014-093.html
In my comment above where I quoted and referenced the CDS, it would appear that what advisors to the CDS* consider as a reasonable decision was not what Fawcet and her CO thought was reasonable, and the 2 star general who reviewed the matter supported her.  That should have been the end of it, but no, of course not.


* ( we all know he signs off but does not write these reports)
 

Cloud Cover

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It’s the Canadian Forces. The people are decent, the institution not so much.
 
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