Earlier this month the 2015-2016 Annual Report of the Veterans Ombudsman was tabled by the Minister of Veterans Affairs in the House of Commons. The report highlights strides made by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman for bettering the lives of veterans and their families.
“Last year was an important year for Veterans and their families, with several announcements on improvements to benefits and services. I am pleased that many of these announcements were based on recommendations made previously by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman and addressed in the Minister of Veterans Affairs’ Mandate Letter and Budget 2016,” said Veterans Ombudsman Guy Parent.
Examining the period between April 2015 and March 2016, the report notes that the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman received 6,500 communications from veterans and their families on issues relating to the New Veterans Charter and Pension Act, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, the Bureau of Pension Advocates and Veterans’ health care regulations.
In the past year, the Veterans Ombudsman has served 1,234 clients and has opened 1,916 files, closed 1,776 files, and made 1,304 interventions.
The Ombudsman’s report also highlighted reports released in the past year. These reports include:
1 Veterans’ Right to Disclosure and to Know Reasons for Decisions: The Follow-Up Report, the 5th report of the Procedural Fairness series.
2 My Five Years as Veterans Ombudsman (Link), a report on what the Veterans Ombudsman and his team has done to help resolve issues of concern to Canada’s Veterans and their families, the challenges they faced and what is left to do.
3 Three educational pieces on transition of medically-released members, in conjunction with the DND/CF Ombudsman’s Office.
4 Support to Military Families in Transition (Link) : A Review, a document that compiles support provided to military families and provides an update on recommendations made in relation to families.
This year’s report also notes how the Office has used social media to communicate to its demographic.
The report not only highlights last year’s accomplishments but outlines future plan of action. One of the key announcements made by Parent in the report is the future launch of Twitter chats and online town halls. This will enable the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman to gather feedback from transitioning military families and veterans on issues that matter most to them.
“So stay tuned for more e-consultation of this nature on either our Facebook or Twitter sites as well as Outreach and engagement with our many stakeholders. after all, to adequately represent the veterans’ community, I need to keep my finger on the pulse of issues affecting veterans and their families, and that is precisely what I intend to do, through dialogue and collaboration,” stated the report.
Also going forward, Parent outlines that the Office will build upon the analysis and recommendations made to fill the gaps identified in financial benefits provided to veterans and their families under the New Veterans Charter. Parent will also look at how veterans and their loved ones are compensated for pain and suffering as a result of service-related injuries or illnesses.
The Office of the Veterans Ombudsman also plans on analyzing current Veterans Affairs Canada programs and benefits to determine if veterans’ needs are being met and ensuring the government continues a veteran-centric approach to services, according to the report.
“Going forward, I will continue to strive for improvements to ensure better outcomes for Veterans and their families. I am hopeful that the government’s commitment to a Veteran-centric approach to solving Veterans’ issues can shape a better tomorrow for Canada’s Veterans and their families,” said Parent.