Month: January 2017

U.S. commitment to Norad assured in phone call
Front Lines

U.S. commitment to Norad assured in phone call

The new U.S. defense secretary reaffirmed his country’s commitment to continental defence and North American Air Defence Command (Norad) in a weekend phone call to his Canadian counterpart. In what Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan called “a warm and cordial call,” former Marine Corps general James Mattis thanked him for his leadership and “the deep and enduring defence partnership between the United States and Canada.” https://twitter.com/HarjitSajjan/status/822580076264955908 “The two reiterated the depth and breadth of the relationship shared between the United States and Canada as Norad partners, NATO allies, and North American neighbors,” said a Pentagon statement. “Secretary Mattis and Minister Sajjan reinforced the vital importance of U.S. and Canadian commitment to North A...
Times change at Sunnybrook
News

Times change at Sunnybrook

Changing demographics have meant that veterans’ hospitals, such as Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, are experiencing a reduction in waiting times not seen for several generations. Sunnybrook, Canada’s largest veterans’ hospital, has room for 475 veterans, housed in two wings—the Kilgour Wing, named after the family who donated the land for the hospital, and Hees Wing, named after popular Veterans Affairs Minister George Hees. There is also the Dorothy Macham Home, which looks like a small house, providing care for those with challenging behaviours due to dementia. It is a secure building with 10 rooms and a therapeutic garden. “We have 474 veterans now and we run at about 95 per cent capacity,” said Nancy Smokler, the centre’s manager of Resident and Family Experience an...
Veterans + Suicide
Health

Veterans + Suicide

Illustration by Robert Carter  How many veterans kill themselves?   The answer is: We don’t know. Do military suicides outnumber combat deaths? The Department of National Defence says six soldiers took their lives in Afghanistan. Veterans Affairs Canada says 53 active members took their lives when they returned. Citing Department of Defence figures, the Toronto Star reported that 160 personnel committed suicide between 2004 and 2014. We do know CAF combat deaths in Afghanistan totalled 158. In the U.S., the number of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan was 5,866; the number who took their own lives was 6,256. The rate of military suicide in the U.S. is double the rate in the civilian population. The CAF released a report in 2015 that said the suicide rate for active memb...
Alternative medicines need more study
Health

Alternative medicines need more study

Serving military members and veterans with chronic health conditions frequently look beyond traditional medicine in their search for something—anything—to relieve symptoms that are making their lives miserable, or in bureaucratese, “affecting their quality of life.” Often they’re forking out their own money (or veterans’ advocacy groups are doing so on their behalf) to pay for treatments and remedies that do not meet the bureaucratic standard of “evidence-based treatments.” Yet stories abound of veterans whose symptoms have been relieved or at least eased by a service dog, communing with nature, meditation, music, art—even recreational drugs. But how can veterans tell before they pony up whether it will be money well spent…or money down the drain? It’s not easy, assuming no one wants ...
VC recipient honoured
News

VC recipient honoured

About 200 people attended a special event for the unveiling of a new headstone on the grave of Victoria Cross recipient Alex Brereton in the farming community of Elnora, Alta. The headstone, supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada, is part of a program to recognize those recipients who survived the war and are buried in civilian cemeteries. André Michaud, the CWGC’s program manager for agency services, said about 30 markers have been erected for Victoria Cross recipients in Canada. The events in Elnora, 170 kilometres northeast of Calgary, were organized by Alex Brereton VC Branch of The Royal Canadian Legion. President Kerry Cheshire said she received a call from the CWGC’s Canadian Agency in Ottawa in March about the intention to replac...
News

Report studies pain and suffering

While pleased with the increase in the New Veterans Charter (NVC) maximum disability award payment, the veterans ombudsman says the federal government now needs to recognize the non-economic effects on the most severely disabled veterans. “While no amount of money can provide full restitution,” said Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, “veterans who have suffered from an illness or injury due to their service need to be fairly compensated for the impact their disability has on their lives and on the lives of their families.” Unfortunately, it is difficult to determine fair compensation for such things as diminished body function, pain and suffering, emotional distress, limits on activities, loss of companionship and guidance, says the report, Fair Compensation to Veterans and Their Survivors f...

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