William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

BLAST FROM THE PAST

There’s a group of ancient veterans, and I served with them
These now ancient, radioactive, Canadian Fighting men
It’s an old Canadian Story from out of our recent past
About Canadian victims who attended the Atomic Bomb Blast

They stood in a slit trench 1,000 meters from ground zero
The survivors of these tests are now our aging Canadian heroes
Many comrades have died and many more are quite ill
As a direct result of being a Cold war victim, as a Guinea Pig kill

Down there in Nevada test blasted back in the day
It’s Top Secret Umbra? Is that what you say?
We need a concrete solution and we need it real quick
Because these veterans are dying and many are sick!

Colonel Stogran’s been hired – he’s our brand new bud man!
He says he will help veterans in any way that he can!
With DND and DVA working on these problems, it’s so slow – so you say?
Let us show our support – let us lead the way –
Let’s all be proactive – on this veterans’ day!

Author’s Note: Write to your MP and to the New Ombudsman and suggest a hasty solution to this problem. Thanks Guys

New Ombudsman Vows To ‘Go To The Wall’ For Veterans

Last Updated: Saturday, November 10, 2007 | 7:38 PM ET
CBC News

Pat Stogran, Canada’s veterans’ ombudsman
Colonel (Ret) Pat Stogran, Canada’s veterans’ ombudsman, says he isn’t afraid to go up against Ottawa on behalf of veterans’ rights. (CBC)
Canada’s first ever ombudsman for veterans is vowing to “go to the wall” for those who have served in the military as he prepares to begin the job of addressing their concerns.

Remembrance Day Sunday will mark the first day of Pat Stogran’s new job. Stogran, a retired colonel appointed to the position last month, previously served as commander of the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan in 2002.

“I view my role strictly as the veterans’ champion,” Stogran told CBC News. “I take on veterans’ causes and go to the wall.”

According to the Veterans Affairs Canada, there are more than 800,000 veterans in Canada.

Stogran said he expects to receive as many as 5,000 complaints a year, ranging from veterans’ requests for increases to disability pay to getting easier access to their pensions.

“From what I understand, there’s all sorts of problems and different perceptions,” he said.

But some veterans who have been battling the current system said they believe the new ombudsman will face a tough road ahead in making changes.

Veteran’s advocate Sean Bruyea
Veteran’s advocate Sean Bruyea expects the ombudsman will face challenges in getting his recommendations implemented. (CBC)
“Any recommendations that come from Mr. Stogran … will be much more difficult to implement because there’s not a command culture to implement those changes,” said Sean Bruyea, a veterans’ advocate who served in the military during the first Gulf War.

“I think he might have to repeat those recommendations once, twice or three times.”

‘A LOT OF RED TAPE’

Perry Gray, who served in the Canadian Forces in Yugoslavia and Cyprus, said his retirement after a 26-year military career has not been easy.

Gray has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and said he sometimes struggles to get his case heard at the Veterans Affairs.

“Whatever problems I had originally, they have been compounded significantly in dealing with the department because of the machinations and the bureaucracy and basically a lot of red tape,” he told CBC News.

Despite his concerns, Bruyea and Gray said they are hopeful Stogran will make a difference in defending veterans’ rights and allowing them to retire with dignity.

The Conservative government promised to create the position to address a chorus of complaints over the years from soldiers’ groups and individuals, who often perceive Veterans Affairs as indifferent and overly bureaucratic.

The federal budget set out $20 million annually to create and maintain the ombudsman’s office and address concerns raised by former soldiers. Last spring, the Conservatives said the new office’s first major task would be helping soldiers who leave the military following their mission in Afghanistan.

The office, created in consultation with veterans’ groups, will operate at arm’s length from the government and report annually to the minister of veterans’ affairs and to Parliament.

With files from the Canadian Press