Minister, I'm going to read you excerpts from two emails I received from a female veteran.
This is the first one: “Mr. Doherty, I just got off the phone with a very unhelpful person at the 1-866 number of Veterans Affairs. This is to give you an idea how difficult it is to talk to anyone. Yesterday I received a letter stating that my diminished earnings capacity amount request has been found inconclusive and that I have to have an assessment by a contractor in order to check to see if I deserve it or not. I just did this last year, December 9th, 2019, to March 20th, 2020. I did it all. Two days' physical testing that crippled me for a week, mental health questionnaires and wanting me to talk to their psychiatrist or equivalent. Please note I'm rated 60% disabled due to my PTSD. I am a suicide and self-harm risk. I didn't want to have to go through with this process again when I just did it only months earlier. Today I bit the bullet and I phoned, and I tried to talk to somebody in that unit. I'm not allowed to speak to them. I'm not even allowed to talk to the supervisor in order to talk to someone in that unit. Apparently they have no numbers for any unit. I was told repeatedly that I need to talk to my case manager. I repeatedly replied, 'I have. He can't do anything about it so I am trying to contact the person who sent me the letter.' Nothing. Simply, 'You need to talk to your case manager,' to which I said, 'I have. He cannot do anything.' This is frustrating, rude and wrong, wrong at every level. People making these decisions need to be able to qualify them and have recourse to answer any questions. It states directly in my letter to call the 1-866 number in order to talk to somebody. I did and there was no help.”
Minister, now I'm going to read the second letter that I received just yesterday: “I just got a phone call from the contractor this afternoon. She basically told me that all the stuff just one year ago is nothing. 'Oh that,' she said, 'the psychiatric part—not acceptable.' I started to fail at this point, went into full distress. I started to self-harm and my husband took me to mental health intake where they did an assessment on me, drugged me up enough to go home and told me they don't have anyone qualified in any sort of military PTSD, and felt that they couldn't help me. This is what happened to me. This is what's happening to vets all around Canada. One minute we're safe. A new person walks in the door and then we're denied. It's always a fight. The only way to win is to no longer be under the control, and to that I mean commit suicide. I was at this point today.”
Minister, you've been in this position for over 800 days. Does that sound like how we should treat somebody who served our country?