From the President -January Meeting with ACC



January 22, 2021
Monthly meeting with representatives of various military veterans’ groups and Walt Natynczyk,  Deputy Minister, Veterans Affairs Canada.

The monthly meeting took place via “Microsoft Teams” video conference and was attended by a wide variety of Canadian military veterans’ associations, including the Royal Canadian Legion, Veterans of the Gulf War, as well as the RCMP’s new VAC Liaison members, Director General National Compensation Services, Joanne Rigon (Executive Liaison to VAC) and Graeme Shaw. RCMP VAC Liaison Officer.  Joanne replaces recently retired Pierre LeBrun and Graeme replaces former Sgt. Kim Hendricken who also has retired and is now working for the National Police Federation.

Interesting the new video meeting format is now “Microsoft Teams”.  This is the chosen resource for the RCMP as well as us, the RCMP Veterans Association.  Security is the primary reason for moving from Zoom and is security rated at Protected B.  Not great security but apparently much better than the other choices and indeed it does take some getting used to.

Back to the meeting
The military veterans’ groups advise their current priority is mental health and most are making it a standard procedure to reach out to their respective members to ensure all are doing well. They report there are a number of veterans who are upset about the current COVID situation, particularly as it pertains to vaccine availability, with the crankiest calls coming from one particular province.

I am advised a number of our own RCMP Veterans Association Divisions are checking in with their respective members as well.

The Military has been using the media to circulate related videos and apparently they have been widely viewed. Another priority has been and continues to be checking with Long-Term Care facilities and veterans currently living within.  Apparently, there are approximately 4,000 military veterans residing within about 250 LTC facilities across Canada.  There are 86 veterans who have tested positive, however, there was no mention about any passing away due to COVID

VAC Claim Adjudications
I had mentioned in a previous report VAC has hired 300 new and additional adjudicators across Canada.  All 300 are now fully trained and functioning.  Hopefully, this will shorten the length of time all of us currently experience in having submissions evaluated.

A report on the backlog situation will be released within the not too distant future.  The bilingual component of the VAC adjudication process is being increased as well as responses to issues raised by women.

30th anniversary of the Gulf War
This year is the 30th anniversary of the Gulf War and the military groups are now actively working on the placement of wreaths in various locations across Canada.  This will include commemorative events and the encouragement for schools to become involved.  A variety of military web sites will be updated to include histories of various conflicts. Some videos are already out there and apparently have been widely viewed.

An Afghanistan monument will be placed in LeBreton Flats, Ottawa and tender opportunities have been published to identify a supplier with five different companies selected as finalists. A new Gulf War video is being produced and asks the question, “where were you 30 years ago?”.

Veterans’ Emergency Fund
This fund was established as a temporary measure to assist Veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces, their families, and survivors when their well-being is at risk due to an urgent or unexpected situation. The fund is intended to provide coverage for such things as food, rental  and mortgage costs, clothing, medical assistance costs.
VAC is hoping to establish a criterion for pre-approval in urgent situations.  The fund has authority to deliver up to $10,000 but there is a concern many former CAF members, families, and survivors are not aware of this program.

Changes within DND
The newly appointed Chief of the Defense Staff will be placing considerable attention to such problems as racism as well as other negative actions committed by serving members.

Training for the Army, Navy, and Air Force have been decentralized with each segment of the military dealing with their own needs.

73rd Anniversary of Canada’s International Peacekeeping
This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of Canada’s first International Peacekeeping deployments. There already is a statue dedicated to Canada’s peacekeeping activities placed on Confederation Boulevard, Ottawa.  Currently there are aspects of the monument representing the Army, Navy, and Air force but nothing representing Canadian Police Services who have been participating in peacekeeping duties for over 35 years.  There is a space within the monument where a police component can be added, and a committee has been struck to have this done. Our fellow Association Member, Graham Muir, Ottawa Division, has agreed to represent the Canadian Police Community in having this added.  I understand the committee is looking for DND funding; Graham believes DND does have finances available to cover the cost and research is now well underway.  Thank you, Graham, for taking on this important project.

Transition Assistance
DND has a transition program underway in conjunction with Corporations Canada designed to assist persons leaving the Forces in seeking new career paths. Many former members of the Forces had formal training and experience in a wide variety of fields that could be applied in the private sector. Since the program’s implementation, last year over 400 former Canadian Forces personnel have been successful in finding new employment via this strategy.  They are looking to increase participation by retiring and former female personnel.

Definition of Family
An interesting circumstance surfaced when a serving member of the Forces residing in the Arctic reported the death of a family member. It was acknowledged but not long afterwards, the Forces member again reported the death of a family member.  When questioned, the Forces member explained in the northern culture, an entire village is often considered a family.  Thus, when a member of the village passed away, the member reported it as a family death.  I don’t know if compassionate leave of any sort was impacted, but an interesting circumstance nonetheless.

Rainbow Veterans of Canada
The representative advised education relating to the LGBTQ community will be increased.  A monument to LGBTQ will be erected in Ottawa in the near future.

Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund
The Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund provides grants and contributions to private, public, or academic organizations to conduct research and implement initiatives and projects that provide benefit to veterans and their families.

Organizations are encouraged to submit applications with the deadline being the 8th of February.  The related information can be found on the web under the title of “The Veterans and Family Well-Being Fund.  Anyone interested is encouraged to read the article.

NOTE:  Individuals cannot apply.

Personal note: To the best of my knowledge, former RCMP members are not considered Veterans under the military pension acts.  The RCMP contracts VAC to handle our claims and consequentially, VAC is only involved with us insofar as the contractual agreement is concerned.  At least, that is how it was explained to me.

VIP Program
The Canadian Armed Forces VIP program is being re-evaluated and interviews are underway with a full report expected by this summer.

NOTE: the VIP Program is only available to CAF former members. The RCMP Pension Act has established the Attendance Allowance as our version of the VIP program.

Royal Canadian Legion Funding Assistance
If I heard this properly, 701 Branches of the Legion have received or will be receiving some funding.  The COVID-19 situation has caused many Legions to be in financial difficulties.  There will be a phase 2 for another related group, followed by a phase 3 for remaining groups.

A replica of the original poppy will soon be released for sale.

Whether or not there will be a Royal Canadian Legion AGM this spring is yet to be determined.  The Legion will be commemorating the 30th year anniversary of the Gulf War.

The Legion President advised there is a new plan for homeless veterans that will be revealed shortly.

RCMP Representatives at the meeting
Director General Joanne Rigon and Graeme Shaw introduced themselves.  Joanne described how the RCMP’s Strategy 150 is coming together and she also expressed her concern about the VAC claim backlog.  It was good to hear the RCMP transition to retirement topic is a receiving a priority.

Graeme provided a short introductory talk and advised he is now retired after 33 years of service with a wide variety of experience. He currently lives in Prince Edward Island. My conversations with both Graeme and Joanne leave me with the impression we will be extremely well represented.

Well, folks, that for the most part if a summary of the two-hour meeting on the 22nd.  Reading my own notes is sometimes a challenge so please forgive me If I left some things out. Although most topics raised at the meeting apply to the Canadian Armed Forces and their workings with Veterans Affairs Canada, I often see many aspects being related to us as well.

Next meeting will be in February and a report will follow.

Kindest regards to all.

Sandy Glenn, President
RCMP Veterans Association

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