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

​Executive summary (9MB .pdf)
​Full report (13MB .pdf)

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