Evidence of meeting #106 for Veterans Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was homeless.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

William Webb  As an Individual
Stephen Gregory  Founder, Respect Campaign
Brenda Fewster  National Director, University Outreach and Program Evaluation, Respect Campaign
Ralph Mahar  Executive Officer, RCMP Veterans' Association
Karen Ludwig  New Brunswick Southwest, Lib.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Right.

February 4th, 2019 / 4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

We're supposed to provide the help.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

True. It's the same with our RCMP, our police officers, and our first responders. They have that attitude. That's why they took these jobs—to help, not to ask for help themselves.

Sergeant, I'm just wondering if I might step back a bit and ask you a personal question. If I'm asking too personal a question, by all means please just say no.

You were in Shilo, correct?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

With...?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

The 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Okay. When you served, you did your tour of duty in...?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

Afghanistan, from 2010 to 2011.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

From 2010 to 2011. Were you in Kandahar or Kabul?

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

We had just moved to Kabul. I was involved in the incident where Master Cpl. Greff, from 3rd Battalion, was killed.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Sir, you said earlier that you were released against your will. I'm wondering if you could explain that to me.

4:55 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

The contract that I signed with the Canadian Forces was to end at the end of 2016. My release paperwork came through the medical side and said, “You are going to be released on February 16.” I said, “That's unacceptable. My contract to serve was over at the end of 2016 anyway. I need to stay and serve to get my 20 years.” My chain of command said, “No. This your release paperwork. You're going to sign it.” I refused to sign it. I was charged with insubordination and failure to follow, through National Defence Act, section 129, and I was released in February 2016.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Would you mind telling us why they were releasing you?

5 p.m.

As an Individual

William Webb

I suffered a head injury, complex post-traumatic stress and occupational stress injury. I'll still say it today—we're the plague. When we ask for help as acting, serving members, we become the plague, and nobody wants to be around us. I was shuffled into a corner, into an office, and that was it.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

Right. Thank you, sir.

Mr. Gregory and Ms. Fewster, we talked a little bit earlier, but part of what we talked about—and, actually, the sergeant alluded to it as well—is that there are multiple groups out there, not only for service dogs but also for providing services to our homeless veterans, and there is no organization. Everyone thinks they're the boss, and everyone thinks they've done the plan better than anyone else. On both of those topics, would you mind commenting on that?

5 p.m.

Founder, Respect Campaign

Stephen Gregory

My brigade commander in 2015 said there were too many of us. What he was complaining about was the fact that we were stepping on each other's toes. I was sitting on the board of Canada Company at the time. Wounded Warriors was doing different things, and True Patriot Love and Canada Company didn't really share ideas. I saw first-hand how we were working, not necessarily at cross-purposes, but without collaboration.

We started the first meeting, and as I said, 48 organizations came together, and the deal was that we had to try to find ways to learn from each other and capitalize on the resources we have.

What the sergeant refers to in Comox is endemic; it's across the board.

We held our first meeting in Victoria earlier this year, and people were wide-eyed just learning about each other. It was quite fascinating.

That's where it starts. If we don't bring these groups together to talk and build relationships, they won't trust each other and won't collaborate. So we're just taking a tiny step. It almost seems worthless compared to the problems the sergeant is facing, but it's a starting point, because right now, I figure that there are at least 2,000 organizations. By the way, these are good people, and many of them are veterans.

Hopefully, what we're going to be able to do is.... I'll come and knock on your door, sergeant, if you don't mind, because we need to bring these people together and give them the chance to work together.

Thanks to your well-being fund, we're creating paid volunteer positions. For for veterans who can work with us, it's a little thing, but maybe we can give them $500 to run a half-day meeting for us. You think, who cares about that? Who the person who cares about it is somebody who is making $500 when they otherwise wouldn't, and they're serving their country again.

Thank you.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Robert Gordon Kitchen Conservative Souris—Moose Mountain, SK

More veterans helping veterans?

5 p.m.

Founder, Respect Campaign

Stephen Gregory

Yes, more veterans helping veterans.

We think we can stretch every dollar and create more collaboration. That's what our hope is.

On the question of service dogs, the issue is particularly vicious. I'll provide more support. There are people whom I can't invite to a meeting, because they're so hostile toward each other. It's just ridiculous.

In the absence of a standard, we have problems.

5 p.m.

National Director, University Outreach and Program Evaluation, Respect Campaign

Brenda Fewster

From the point of view of the social worker in an emergency room, or a psychosocial counsellor in a shelter, or a police officer who encounters a homeless veteran, you don't know who to contact. You may not understand military culture, you don't know the questions to ask. You don't know how to identify a veteran, and once you do, whom do you call?

The flip side of looking at this is to think of the civilian service providers at the community level working with veterans, who don't know whom to contact to work with veterans, how to identify them, and how to help them.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Thank you.

Mr. Eyolfson.

5 p.m.

Founder, Respect Campaign

Stephen Gregory

Can I give you a practical example?

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Can you make it quick? I'm sorry, but we're into eight minutes now.

5 p.m.

Founder, Respect Campaign

Stephen Gregory

Forgive me.

At our second meeting, we asked if organizations had a common protocol for identifying veterans. The answer was no. There are groups you fund that probably do, but they wouldn't give us the protocol, so we brought six organizations together and built a protocol that we share now widely with anyone. Soldiers Helping Soldiers was a big part of our solution for that.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Neil Ellis

Thank you.

Mr. Eyolfson, you have six minutes.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Doug Eyolfson Liberal Charleswood—St. James—Assiniboia—Headingley, MB

Thank you, all, for coming.

Ms. Fewster, you mentioned the emergency department. I was interested in that, as I am a physician who worked in the emergency department for 20 years. I got used to seeing and dealing with a lot of very upsetting things, and yet I still find it difficult to listen to some of the stories at this committee, like yours, Sergeant Webb. Given that baseline of what I got used to hearing and seeing for 20 years, this is hard to listen to. It is a horrendous thing that has happened to you, and I am sorry that it did. This is why we are here: We want to prevent this kind of thing from going on.

This is useful. It helps to tell us what we need to do.

I want to expand on part of Mr. Kitchen's question. You said that you had an operational stress injury and a head injury, which was the reason given for your medical release. Had you not been released, I'm assuming, from what you're saying, even if there were limitations to what you could do, you were still willing and wanting to serve. Is that correct?