Taking care of veterans

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Dear Editor,

A recent article in (The Aurora's sister paper, The Telegram) suggested that we have many lessons to learn from our American allies.

I would direct your readership to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs which heard from our American allies last May during a hearing about their veterans’ benefit system. The American witnesses said: “(The American veterans’ system has) 830,000 claims pending … completing them on average in about 265 days.”

In Canada, the great majority of cases for veterans’ benefit decisions, 80 per cent, are approved within 16 weeks, or 112 days.

In the United States, an American veteran’s family is eligible for approximately $3,500 in financial support towards the cost of a funeral. In Canada, a veteran’s family may receive almost $10,000. And few would argue that while not a perfect system, the Canadian health-care system is far superior to any other in North America.

According to the veterans’ ombudsman, a 24-year-old medically released veteran will receive $2 million until age 65. And after that, seriously injured veterans are eligible for up to $2,700 a month in just financial benefits alone. This does not include medical benefits, home cleaning, yard maintenance, home adaptation and snowclearing. But more can and must be done.

This is why I support a comprehensive review of the new Veterans’ Charter which is well underway in Parliament, and why, just a few weeks, ago I introduced legislation moving injured veterans to the front of the line for federal public service jobs. We must continue to make improvements to how our government spends $3.6 billion each year to support Canadian veterans. But as we look to refine and improve our programs and benefits, Canadians can be confident our system is among the most generous of our allies.

 

Julian Fantino

Minister of Veterans Affairs

 

Organizations: Dear Editor, Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, Charter Veterans Affairs

Geographic location: Canada, United States, North America

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