Veterans

Third Canadian killed in Ukraine

Grygorii Tsekhmistrenko, a retired Canadian Armed Forces combat medic, died while fighting Russian forces in eastern Ukraine January 15. He is the third Canadian volunteer killed in battle since the invasion began last February. [node:read-more:link]

Brain injuries under investigation

Military veteran Dennis Manuge, who led a successful class action against Veterans Affairs Canada over disability payments, continues to recover from injuries he suffered while in service. He now is promoting Project Enlist Canada, a partnership with concussion and brain researchers investigating brain degeneration in athletes as well as veterans who are asked to bequeath their brains to the project. [node:read-more:link]

Navy veteran fined for assault

A 24-year Royal Canadian Navy veteran who retired in 2017 has been reprimanded and fined $7,000 for repeatedly assaulting a 20-year-old female cadet aboard HMCS Oriole, the navy tall ship, in 2006. James R. Levesque, 59, who had pled not guilty to all charges, was found guilty last May of assault, sexual assault and uttering threats during a summer training voyage to Alaska from Victoria. [node:read-more:link]

Familiar faces in key U.S. committees

Republicans Mike Rogers of Alabama and Mike Bost of Illinois were confirmed January 10 as respective chairs of the House of Representatives’ armed services and veterans’ affairs committees. Both previously were the ranking members on those committees. [node:read-more:link]

Valcartier compensation deadline looms

January 15 is the deadline for current and former Canadian Armed forces personnel stationed in Valcartier, Quebec, between 1995 and 2000 to apply to join a class-action lawsuit over contaminated water supplies. Claimants are eligible for up to $1,000 for each month they lived at the base where trichloroethylene, a carcinogenic degreasing agent, had leaked into groundwater over several decades [node:read-more:link]

Veterans Affairs agent leaves department

A Veterans Affairs Canada service agent the department says was “responsible” for suggesting that former miliary personnel consider medical assistance in dying is “no longer an employee,” VA Minister Lawrence MacAulay’s office confirmed December 20. The agent had not been at work since four cases came to light last summer. [node:read-more:link]

Veterans Affairs under renewed pressure

Former military and RCMP personal are calling for changes to Veterans Affairs Canada, saying it has been too slow in implementing health service changes announced by the government years ago. “Benefits and services are accessible,” said one vet at a December 8 rally in Nova Scotia, suggesting also that privatization of some services in 2021 is part of the problem. “If you’re in the system already, it’s not hard,” Rollie Lawless said. “It’s those trying to get into the system that seems to be the hiccup.” [node:read-more:link]

Afghanistan vet wins PTSD appeal

A Nova Scotia veteran who served on the Canadian Armed Forces combat mission in Afghanistan has been awarded a full disability pension and other compensation for post-trauamatic stress disorder. His initial application in 2015 was rejected, evidently because he did not suffer physical injury during a 2007 roadside bomb attack that killed two other troopers, but that has been overturned by the Veterans Review & Appeal Board. [node:read-more:link]

Canadian vet confirms suicide offer

A paraplegic Canadian Armed Forces veteran told a parliamentary committee December 1 that a Veterans Affairs Canada counsellor offered her the opportunity and the means for a medically assisted death. “I have a letter saying that if you’re so desperate, madam, we can offer you . . . medical assistance in dying,” said Christine Gauthier, who had a training accident in 1989 and had had difficulty in getting a home wheelchair ramp. [node:read-more:link]

Veterans’ MAD advice investigated

The RCMP has been asked to look into reports that a Veterans Affairs Canada caseworker, who has been suspended, told at least four ill military veterans they could opt for a medically-assisted death. Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacCauley confirmed the development to a parliamentary committee November 24, saying that “we expect all . . . employees to interact with veterans with care, compassion and respect and the actions of this one employee is simply disgusting.” [node:read-more:link]

Government House attacker paroled

Manitoba resident Corey Hurren, a military veteran who rammed his truck into a gate at Rideau Hall in Ottawa in July 2020 in an attempt to confront Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has been granted day parole under strict conditions. Hurren, who had told police he wanted to arrest Trudeau to make a statement about federal coronavirus restrictions and the government’s ban on “assault style” firearms, had been sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to weapons offences and public mischief. [node:read-more:link]

Veteran population smaller than thought?

Differences in how Veterans Affairs Canada and Statistics Canada calculate the number of military veterans in the country’s population could explain a significant variance in their numbers. VAC uses a mathematical model based on 1971 census data, the 1988 labour force survey and annual survival rates from Statistics Canada but the latter’s 2021 census, which specifically asked about military service for the first time in 50 years, yielded a smaller result than the VAC approach. [node:read-more:link]

Military’s highest award not given out

Veterans’ groups and former senior officers are frustrated by the fact that despite recorded acts of outstanding heroism during Canada’s 2001-2014 combat mission in Afghanistan, which involved more than 40,000 personnel, no soldiers received the highest award for bravery, the Victoria Cross. The Department of National Defence awarded 18 Stars of Military Valour and 89 other bravery medals as well as meritorious “mentions in dispatches”, but no single act by a Canadian met the “extremely rare standard” for the VC. [node:read-more:link]

Veterans benefit lawsuit approved

A class action lawsuit alleging that Veteran Affairs Canada failed to fully inform retired military personnel about their benefits has been approved in Federal Court. At issue is a Supplementary Retirement Benefit meant to compensate for lower-income veterans unable find gainful employment due to service-related injuries. The government consolidated it with another program in 2019 and the plaintiff says as many as 10,000 veterans could be affected. [node:read-more:link]

Wagner Group boss outs himself

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, who used to deny ownership of the mercenary Wagner Group since it was founded eight years ago and who sued journalists for reporting it, has finally admitted it. Russian veterans have been deployed to fight in many countries in the Middle East and Africa. “I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me,” he said. “From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born.” [node:read-more:link]

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