Veterans hurt by closure of offices, loss of supports

Transcontinental Media
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Hedley Smith extended his hand to my shoulder to symbolize the hands-on service he is losing with the closure of Corner Brook’s Veterans Affairs office.

Veteran Paul Davis and Royal Canada Legion president Matthew Connolly lay a wreath during a protest Friday against the closure of the Veterans Affairs office in Corner Brook. — Photo by Cory Hurley/The Western Star

The Canadian Armed Forces veteran, 82, was certainly not making light of the federal government’s decision. His face was saddened as he discussed the burden of not having somebody to turn to.

The hurt was apparent in his eyes as he said the woman he has dealt with for about 30 years was losing her job.

“You could go there and talk to them and you would get an answer,” Smith said. “Those people did everything in the world for you.”

The federal government has said there will still be a contact for veterans in the Service Canada office.

But Smith said it will never be the same, that this person will not have the experience and knowledge to deal with the complexity of veterans’ issues.

There wasn’t as much sadness and hurt for Canadian Forces member Paul White as there was anger.

“After 22 years in the Canadian Army, dedicating my time and almost my life, if I am going to give that to my country, why can’t my country give something to me and my fellow veterans?” he asked.

Many veterans across the country feel the decision was a slap in the face. White takes it one step farther.

“If you fall down, one of your comrades is supposed to help you up,” he said. “You expect your country to help you up when you have fallen. Now that we are down and these offices are closing, they are kicking us while we are down.”

It was a solemn protest in Corner Brook Friday.

A large crowd gathered around a dozen or more retired soldiers and military personnel in the parking lot of the Veterans Affairs office in Corner Brook at noon. Similar protests were held across the country.

Friday was scheduled to be the last day of operation for the regional office, one of eight across the country slated to close, which provided assistance and support to veterans over the years. The closures are part of a move by Veterans Affairs to move more services online.

Paul Davis, a veteran from Summerside who butted heads with federal Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino in Ottawa this week, walked alongside Matthew Connolly, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 13 and laid a wreath beneath the Canadian flag.

Veterans appear to have lost their battle to overturn the decision to close the offices, but people such as Connolly and the many veterans will continue the fight in hopes it will eventually make a difference.

“The democratic process, there hasn’t been enough of it,” Connolly said. “It needs to be addressed. It needs to be sorted out. Don’t make a decision until you have all the facts.”

Angela Decker of the Public Service Alliance also attended. She told the people that her organization is requesting another meeting with Fantino to try to convince him to change the decision.

 

The Western Star

Organizations: Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans Affairs, Service Canada Canadian Army Royal Canadian Legion Branch Public Service Alliance

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Summerside, Ottawa Western Star

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments

Recent comments

  • Gordon Noseworthy
    February 01, 2014 - 22:01

    I have seven deceased veterans in my related family from parents to grandparents who surely rolled over in their graves on this incident. One living veteran (aunt) who never applied for any of the programs because she felt there were others who needed it more. Imagine the faith she still has in the system and she is 90+ yrs. What a let-down if she could understand.

  • jfougere
    February 01, 2014 - 15:48

    I too spent 22 years in the military(retired aas a Major) and I am considered a vet by Vetern Affairs(confirmed twice) but I never spent time in a war zone nor was I injured.I was eligible to go to a war zone but was never sent. I don't consider myself a vet and I am not eligible for any benefits and that is fine with me.I disagree with all the vets(?) that were on TV;I think that they should have shown good manners and respect for a Minister of the Crown I am appalled that they would critize the 3 government Ministers at the meetin since they were Vets also and they have the right to disagree with the TV Vets..Many Service Canada offices are in the same building that held the Vets office and some are already staffed with a person trained in Vet affairs and more will come.So tavelling is not a problems and agents of Vet affairs will travel to homes of vets unable to go to Service Canada offices.I am happy with the pay that I got from the military,the chance to travel the world ,to earn a trade and to get out of my small town (in the Maritimes)I want this government to do everything that is reasonable to save taxpayers their money.

  • jfougere
    February 01, 2014 - 15:45

    I too spent 22 years in the military(retired aas a Major) and I am considered a vet by Vetern Affairs(confirmed twice) but I never spent time in a war zone nor was I injured.I was eligible to go to a war zone but was never sent. I don't consider myself a vet and I am not eligible for any benefits and that is fine with me.I disagree with all the vets(?) that were on TV;I think that they should have shown good manners and respect for a Minister of the Crown I am appalled that they would critize the 3 government Ministers at the meetin since they were Vets also and they have the right to disagree with the TV Vets..Many Service Canada offices are in the same building that held the Vets office and some are already staffed with a person trained in Vet affairs and more will come.So tavelling is not a problems and agents of Vet affairs will travel to homes of vets unable to go to Service Canada offices.I am happy with the pay that I got from the military,the chance to travel the world ,to earn a trade and to get out of my small town (in the Maritimes)I want this government to do everything that is reasonable to save taxpayers their money.