Benefits for veterans should be considered a national security issue, Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent says in his 2010/11 annual report. How well veterans are cared for plays a part in recruitment into the Canadian Forces and RCMP, he argues.
Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent, photo courtesy Legion Magazine and Metropolis Studio
“Personnel must have complete faith that their needs will be met while they serve and afterward,” the report says. “When decision-makers step up the operational tempo…they should also factor into their calculations the requirements to respond to the needs of veterans of tomorrow.”
He’s worried about a diminution in Veterans Affairs Canada services and has given notice that he will carefully watch the department’s transformation agenda, which is based on a projection VAC’s client base will decrease to 156,000 by 2020, compared to 210,000 today. The department has said this projection is based on the depleting number of Second World War and Korean veterans.
Only 140,000 of the 760,000 veterans and 110,000 serving members of the Canadian Forces and RCMP are VAC clients. Demand for services is likely to rise if VAC, as recommended, improves its communication with non-clients. As well, CF veterans have more complex health issues due to their multiple tours in higher intensity operations, and this will increase VAC’s workload even if it has fewer clients, he says. As evidence, the report notes the increase in the number of medical releases over the past 20 years.