An open letter to the new Minister of Veterans Affairs

A plea to recognize the impact of Cold War chemicals on veterans’s lives

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an open letter to Minister Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs. The author, Colin Pick, sent this letter to the new minister along with last week’s Section Front article on Cold War veteran Jim McDonald.

Dear Minister Hehr:

Further to the War Pensioners of Canada resolutions to government of October 8, 2015. The attached is an example of just one soldier suffering from the effects of chemical defoliants, herbicides and carcinogens, however, there are thousands like him who have fallen through the cracks of bureaucracy and red tape, when let’s call it what it is, Agent Orange and other chemicals defoliants, but even the very words closes some doors within VAC when trying to deal with the issue to get entitlement or resolve.

Mr. McDonald is a local veteran with whom I am very familiar. His case has been debated for some 10 to 15 years now with no hope in sight of anyone making a definite decision, mainly because of rules that are either vague, misconstrued or interpreted to suit bureaucracy and red tape with creates delays, indecision or denial.

Sir, Mr. McDonald and his family are surviving and the basic quality of life to get by on and continue to suffer because when dealing with chemical defoliants, herbicides or carcinogens, VAC criteria is vague or covers grey areas with wordings a rocket scientist would have trouble making good sense of, yet across the border in the United States their veterans are compensated for exposure to the very same chemical compounds.

The bottom line being, if these chemicals are recognized in the US, surely the same criteria should apply for Canadian Forces exposed to the same chemicals, thus why can we not adopt the same criteria?

I attach a newspaper article on Mr. McDonald and respectfully request a full investigation into this matter, not only for him but all other veterans and their families in similar circumstances.

Yours sincerely,

Colin Pick, president

War Pensioners of Canada

Manitowaning