One of our Member’s Experiences with Veterans Affairs Canada

This is a general broadcast to all members of the Association.

The Services of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC)

Dear Association Members,

We recently provided the news that the Federal Court of Appeal had denied an appeal to reverse an earlier decision to increase premiums for subscribers to the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP).  Evidently this provoked some head scratching and even some action – as you will see.

During the 2019 AGM in Whitehorse, Sgt. Kim Hendricken, the RCMP Liaison officer to VAC strongly urged everybody to set up a VAC account – since it could be so beneficial.  

Now we have a story that supports Sgt. Hendricken’s suggestion.

The story follows.

James Forrest
Director of Communications
RCMP Veterans’ Association

Don Meister of Saskatoon Division has shared his experience with VAC and we are very grateful for the information he has provided.

Could we be placing too much faith in PSHCP and overlooking other options?  Should we perhaps be advocating greater use of the services of VAC and OSI?

Until recently I have relied solely on Provincial health care and Blue Cross because I can justifiably be accused of having virtually a total lack of faith in almost anything related to government agencies. 

Last January one of my RCMP Veterans coffee buddies talked me into visiting the Saskatoon office of Veterans Affairs Canada where, he said, I would be referred to the local Occupational Stress Injuries (OSI) Clinic which deals solely with CAF and RCMP members and veterans.  Feeling that I had nothing to lose, I booked an interview.  At the interview I was fairly thoroughly interviewed and told that I would hear from them soon.  I left with my skepticism relatively intact, only to receive a letter a few days later advising me of an appointment scheduled with OSI about three weeks later. 

Having no idea of what to expect but now less skeptical, I appeared for my appointment with OSI where I was very thoroughly interviewed by a psychologist probing my PTSD claim.  After the session I left, wondering what had just happened but I returned a week later for my follow up, after which I expected to never hear from anyone again unless to receive what is often somewhat euphemistically referred to as a PFO letter denying my claims. 

Several months went by with the expected lack of communication, so imagine my surprise a few days ago when my wife, while going through our monthly banking, couldn’t understand where a significant but totally unannounced deposit had come from!  A bit of investigation revealed it to have originated at VAC!  We still have had no actual communication but this deposit plus the receipt of a Veterans Affairs Blue Cross health card suggests that we should probably not be surprised to hear something from them soon. 

All this has brought me to the conclusion that the old maxim of ‘you don’t get if you don’t ask’ is probably still true.  Having long held very dim views of bureaucracy in general I simply didn’t bother to look for help.  It should probably come as no surprise that my inaction reaped commensurate results.  In this case at least my most extravagant hope was answered in a most welcome way.  Naturally, this leads me to wonder how many more of our deserving members are also missing out on benefits that they should be receiving and can receive if they only look in the right place. 

I should note that before I was aware of any payment by VAC to me, I was approached by the manager of the Saskatoon office of the OSI, asking me to make our veterans aware of the services of OSI.  Hopefully this note will help to make that happen. 

Respectfully, Don Meister, Ex-reg. no. 29132