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Presidents Christmas and New Years Message 2017

Wishing all Veterans and their families a safe and joyful Christmas and our sincere
wishes for a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year.
As a society we have and continue to witness incredible change in the world stage.
From the election of a new President in the United States, to the Brexit vote in the UK,
to apparent unstoppable terrorist acts of brutality, and ongoing instability in the near
east. Our world is also one where increasing economic inequities are more prevalent
and people are not as well off as they were even 20 years ago. Our Government faces
multiple competing priorities and the needs of Veterans has taken a back burner to
other pressing needs and for many there is a feeling that we are getting short shrift.
We, as Veterans, need to stay focused on the needs of our community and be fully
aware of the competing interests in the public and media domains. Our relevance is
critical to our message being accepted by the Canadian public and politicians who
decide our fate. One of the most important aspects of maintaining a visible presence in
the public eye is that of a coordinated voice with other veteran advocates. We have and
continue to ally ourselves with likeminded Veterans groups, so that we speak with one
voice. One credible voice; with reliable, well researched and valued advice and
actionable recommendations. The NVOC is speaking for our members, all of whom are
Veterans in their own right. There are over 700,000 Veterans of the Canadian Armed
Forces across Canada and imagine what we could accomplish if we were to harness all
these voices. No doubt the results would be impressive; but sadly, most Veterans are
silent. That said, progress albeit slow, is being made. The progress may not address all
our concerns but as we can all be reminded, it is a case of one foot in front of the other.
Whether this progress is sustained in future budgets is yet to be seen. The NVOC will
continue to represent Veterans issues to the corridors of power and hold our elected
officials accountable for their actions and inactions.
There has been progress this year.
 In October, the Government announced the implementation of a joint
Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans Affairs Suicide Prevention Strategy
composed of 160 different initiatives, programs and services, including the hiring
of additional mental health professionals focused on preventing suicide across
the entire military and Veteran community.
 Helping injured Veterans by re-establishing lifelong pensions and insuring
that they all have access to financial advice and support is an ongoing
Government effort that we encourage. Injured veterans should have the option of
taking a life-long pension, and be provided financial advice and support to assist
them in determining the form of compensation that works best for them and their
 Provide injured veterans with 90 per cent of their pre-release salary, and
index this benefit to inflation. Veterans now receive 90 per cent of their pre-
release salary under the Earnings Loss Benefit (ELB), and benefits are indexed
to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
 Deliver a higher standard of service and care, and ensure that a "one
veteran, one standard" approach is upheld. Veterans and their families have
seamless support as they transition out of the military, with simplified application
processes, improved client services and reduced wait times to receive benefits.
Whether these programs will be fully realised or properly delivered will be an item of
interest to all of us and we hope that the government does not confuse motion with
On 4 November the Legion hosted 13 other Veterans’ organizations in our annual
Veterans’ Consultation Group. Myself and Ted Bransfield (Director Advocacy) attended
on behalf of NVOC members. The group received briefings on the anti-malarial drug
Mefloquine, the outreach being conducted by the National Association of Federal
Retirees and an update by the Ombudsman on his recent study “The Continuum of
Care”. The consultation group agreed that much more is required to improve the New
Veterans Charter with particular emphasis on resolving the significant disparity between
the financial compensation available under the Pension Act and the New Veterans
Charter, in accordance with the “one veteran – one standard” principle. It was felt that,
through the utilization of the best parts of the Pension Act and the best parts of the New
Veterans Charter, a pension benefit model can be created which removes the inequality
which currently exists.
As is customary with the Consultation Group, a roundtable discussion ensued and on
behalf of the group, I would like to bring three of those issues to your attention:
Frailty. Frailty was often mentioned in the Ombudsmans "Continuum of Care" Study
and has been an ongoing point of advocacy for many. The necessity for VAC to
consider frailty in their programs and services cannot be over stressed.
Veterans’ ID Card. Collectively the group supported the introduction of a Veterans’ ID
card which would recognize veterans and assist in their transition from the CAF.
system. On transitioning from the CAF a card, using the same service number,
needs to be issued thereby recognizing an individual’s service, facilitate the
transition process and assist in the one veteran – one standard approach.
Research. More directed and meaningful research needs to be conducted. As the
veterans’ world evolves and changes and centres of excellence are being considered,
committed and directed research will help to lead the way. Currently, research is needed
in the use of anti-malarial drugs, with special focus on mefloquine and particularly with
regard to the symptoms of acquired brain injury, and cannabis-based therapies for
Military veterans come from across our nation - many of us have served off shore - and
here at home. When a man or woman serves in Canada’s military, their whole family
serves with them. We all share a common distinction because of our service. Here at
home - or abroad - there will always be some who have served and have medical
issues - physical and state of mind. The Greeks called it "Divine Madness"; the US Civil
War called it "Soldiers Heart"; WW I it was labelled "Shell Shock"; and WW II it was
called "Combat Fatigue. More recently we called it Operational Stress Injury and have
now come to understand it in its truest form as "PTSD" ( Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder). Whatever it is called we all need to support our fellow Veterans who may well
suffer from this terrible and debilitating curse. Veterans who need mental health
services must be provided with these services as a priority and that their backs are
covered. We can all help to stop these damned suicides. This season especially, where
isolation can be a killer, please look out for your fellow Veteran. WE HAVE ALL
SERVED, WE ARE ALL VETERANS, there is no distinction between us. So please take
the time to speak to your fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms and if you discover he or
she is in need of help, lend that helping hand and assist them in getting the support they
need. One small act of kindness can go a long way in having an impact far beyond what
one could possibly imagine.
Making a difference is at the heart of what we do.
As in any organization, it is the volunteers who give of their time and efforts that make a
difference. Too often their contributions go without proper acknowledgement so I wanted
to take a moment to thank all of you at the national and local level for being that
At the national level, your Directors keep our small group of Veteran advocates going.
They have links into many places, and they have energy and experience and talents
that give me confidence that NVOC will continue to be a strong advocate for our
Veterans. Members of your Board of Directors - all Veterans - deserve credit for their
"volunteerism". I know that I can speak for all members when I say that I certainly value
their dedication and ongoing support to all our activities seeking to improve Veterans
In the New Year please recruit one new member! It will make a difference!
Randy Stowell,CD
National President
NATO Veterans Organization of Canada
4 December 2017 ( Saint Barbara's Day - patron Saint of Gunners and Sappers and