Canadian Veterans, who claim for a military related disability, have often gone through a rigorous process. Most claims were rejected by Veterans Affairs and then the claim was arbitrated by a Veterans Review Appeal Board (VRAB). The VRAB consisted of a three member team of civilians. The process was lengthy and the boards often had no real feel of military life. Peter Stoffer, the New Democratic Party (NDP) critic for Veteran Affairs aims to change that.
In a private member's bill, Peter Stoffer, is introducing legislation that, if passed, would scrap the board. The bill was introduced in the Canadian parliament on October 3rd. In accordance with parliamentary rules, private member's bills must be voted on.
Mr. Stoffer pointed out that the Veterans Ombudsman reported that the VRAB was failing to give veterans the benefit of the doubt, not disclosing medical information used in its rulings and were vague in explaining their decisions to military and RCMP veterans.
“The VRAB appeal process is not working like it should and there is a high level of dissatisfaction among veterans and their families,” added Deputy Veterans Affairs critic Sylvain Chicoine (Châteauguay—Saint-Constant)
Peter Stoffer and Sylvain Chicoine suggested that the Board should be replaced with a medical evidence-based peer reviewed process for making decisions on veterans’ disability applications, under the responsibility of Veterans Affairs.
The bill introduced shows that not all ideas come from the conservative government. The bill makes ultimate sense and should be supported by all parliamentarians.
Humiliation and intimidation is not what veterans deserve. A peer review makes ultimate sense, in fact it is just plain common sense. The days of automatic denials of claims should be over as well. In the past that was common procedure and probably about half of the claimants gave up.
As an example, a few months ago the writer received a call from someone that had been in basic training with him in 1964. His claim was rejected because Veterans affairs wanted a "Report on Injuries." There were a couple of problems with this. For one, in most cases, these reports were never filled out in the 60s and secondly, many veterans sucked up the pain, rather than being seen as a wimp by his buddies. A letter was written on his behalf, but it is not known if the claim was ever granted.
This occurred under both Liberal and conservative governments. Common sense should have no political boundaries and those that advocate that they appreciate the troops, should do the right thing and pass this bill.
Canadian Veterans will be watching closely at how parliamentarians vote.