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Presidents Message Canada Day 2017 Wishing all Veterans and their families a safe and joyful

Presidents Message Canada Day 2017

Wishing all Veterans and their families a safe and joyful Canada Day as our Country proudly celebrates its 150th Birthday. We have much to be thankful for as a "Confederation".

NATO Veterans Organization of Canada (NVOC) continues to advocate on behalf of all Veterans - "A Veteran is a Veteran is a Veteran" is now an accepted concept on which to seek appropriate benefits for those deserving Veterans, Your Board of Directors has affirmed that the mission of NVOC will continue to speak for Veterans to ensure that they receive the support they deserve from our country. We will not involve ourselves as an organization in Defence policy issues related to capabilities - there are already Defence Associations in place that do that function well. Nor will NVOC involve ourselves in the transformation

initiatives related to education, career transition services, and other initiatives that will better position Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members for success in their post-military lives. We advocate for Veterans.of the CAF.

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Canada's new Defence Policy Statement entitled Strong Secure Engagedwas released by the Minister of National Defence on June 7.

Several extracts are repeated here that are of particular interest to Veterans:

DND will transform the way the Canadian Armed Forces supports the transition of personnel, whether returning to active duty or transitioning seamlessly to post-military life and the services of Veterans Affairs Canada. And, we will create a new Canadian Armed Forces Transition Group that represents a fundamental reinvention of the way transition is managed. This Group – composed of 1,200 personnel, including specialized staff and holding positions for ill and injured – will work in collaboration with Veterans Affairs Canada to provide our people with the individualized care they need and deserve.; and

DND will ensure that military members and their families are well supported, from the moment they join, throughout their careers, and as they transition out of the military. We are committed to providing more

flexible, tailored benefits and support that are personalized to the unique circumstances and needs of each member throughout this journey. This includes the implementation of specific initiatives to help minimize the disruptions associated with frequent relocation

NVOC Board of Directors. In response to some recent questions from members I want to emphasize that the Board of Directors are all volunteers - we meet once a month at a local Armoury - we are an "an all services and all ranks" team [Navy, Army and Air Force - Officers and Warrant Officers [mostly CWO/CPO's]. We do not use NVOC finances for costs related to travel/meals/accommodations. Those kinds of expenses are absorbed by members of the Board on the rare occasions that they are needed.

ADVOCACY FOR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES.

NVOC is invited every few months to meet with the Deputy Minister (DM) Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) [ Gen[ret] Walter Natynczyk] and some of his senior staff to discuss concerns and progress. Other Veterans groups attend as well - the Royal Canadian Legion, The Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in Canada (ANAVETS), Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping (CAVUNP); National Council of Veteran Associations in Canada

and occasionally others. I have included some of my "observations" from our last meeting on 21 June. Keep in mind that my comments are NOT minutes - the meetings are minute free and we speak from a privileged platform:

● Budget 2017 did make mention of pensions for life and there is much work ongoing, We hope for a positive announcement sometime this autumn.

● The VAC staff have been "all hands on deck" supporting commemorations of Vimy and also Dieppe [19 August].

● Service Delivery is moving from veterans having to "pull" benefits to a "push down" package - a complete package of benefits that they - the staff- appreciate would be needed. The example given for a hip replacement is why ask for crutches, an elevated toilet seat and a walker - three different requests! Bundle them together. There were 12,000 applications for a "My VAC Account" over a recent two month period that has created some backlogs. COMMENT. If you do not have a VAC Account - go online or to a service centre and get one!

● VAC has started a "Staff School" in Charlottetown and the 400 "new" hires have attended professional development training at this school. This is a new initiative and makes a great deal of sense to me. Current long term staff are also being sent for refresher training - a popular program that will have a sparkling impact on service delivery. I was particularly impressed by a comment made by the DM - he commented that he has told VAC staff that if they make a compassionate decision in favour of the Veteran he will "have their back". This makes a positive impact at the point of entry for the Veteran.

● There are still instances where some Veterans seek benefits for service on Ships that they have not served on? Deployments where they have not served. Service and Injury that is not attributable to military service. This is a hurt for the rest of us.

● Progress is being made on Long Term Care (LTC) beds - all Veterans Hospitals now have beds for modern veterans. There are Veterans in LTC in over 1400 hospitals across the nation. There now are some contract/community beds that are not filled.

● The Veterans Review Appeal Board (VRAB) is a continuing and important component of the process - a humorous comment was made that as VAC progresses in " Saying Yes Quicker" that the VRAB will become like the Maytag repairman!;

● Employment for Veterans [ and spouses] within other Government Departments is an effort being made at senior levels and shows promise. One example was the Commissionaires, who have a work force of some 21,000 [ of which only 6,000 are veterans]. ; and finally

● There are now almost 4,000 Veterans using medical Marijuana.

Your Board of Directors wishes to have a "Presidents Message" delivered to all members on a more frequent basis. The idea is theirs - the work is mine! Our Past President Gord Jenkins continues to be active within the Veterans communities and he will be including NVOC activities and ongoing advocacy initiatives using Linkedin ( https://www.linkedin.com/uas/login). He has a significant audience and he posts daily. We do not intend to have Tweets/Twitter or Instagram accounts - our focus will continue to improve communications with the "Baby Boomers" and "Generation X" and "Generation Y". We are not sure if the "Millennial's" are particularly interested in Veterans advocacy!

I do wonder what is happening around veterans supper tables - with their families and day to day activities. We are a small organization without an organizational structure that gets in our way. Any of you are welcome to contact me or other members of the Board with questions or suggestions. If there is something that you would like other NVOC members to know we would be more than willing to include your thoughts in our own messages.

Wishing you all a soft and lazy summer. Thank you all for you continuing support.

Randy

Randy Stowell, CD National President NATO Veterans Organization of Canada

rg.stowell@sympatico.ca

27 June 2017