News Release

Veterans Group Pleased with Ombudsman's Recommendations on Burial Regulations

OTTAWA, ON, September 23, 2009 – The National Council of Veteran Associations (57 member groups) was pleased with the report issued today by Veterans Ombudsman Pat Stogran which recommended that benefits under the Veterans Burial Regulations and/or the Last Post Fund be enhanced and regulatory and bureaucratic constraints be eliminated. It also recommended that funding to the program be increased to address serious inequities in the system.

In compiling his report, Colonel Stogran consulted closely with NCVA Chairman Cliff Chadderton and Secretary General Brian Forbes, who briefed the Ombudsman regarding the NCVA's lengthy fight for amendments that would acknowledge that Seriously Disabled Veterans should, as a matter of right, be entitled to these benefits which would allow Veterans Affairs Canada to make payment of the full amount of the funeral and burial expenses involved.

This issue came to national prominence last year when the family of decorated Korean War hero Kenneth Barwise was left with funeral expenses they could not afford. The Department rejected their application arguing that his pensioned conditions, together with a significant number of non-pensioned conditions, did not provide sufficient eligibility for this financial assistance. Barwise was a double-leg amputee, leading The War Amps to pay these outstanding costs as a humanitarian gesture.

The NCVA filed an appeal under the Pension Act, the Veterans Burial Regulations and the Department of Veterans Affairs Act on behalf of Kenneth Barwise in July 2008 and, on August of 2008, filed for possible appeal further case studies of Seriously Disabled Veterans who were denied the benefit.

Chadderton and Forbes noted that the NCVA has long taken the position that it is often impossible to distinguish between the impacts of pensioned and non-pensioned conditions in relation to a Seriously Disabled Veteran profile. In nearly all other areas of VAC adjudication and administration, the Department has eliminated the complication of distinguishing between these conditions and has provided the veteran with an appropriate disability pension, special allowance or health care benefit in such circumstances.

They also cited surveys by the NCVA which indicated that the most seriously disabled veterans, such as members of The War Amps and the Hong Kong Veterans, do not always receive these benefits.

The NCVA is looking forward to the Department implementing these longstanding recommendations through amendments to the Veterans Burial Regulations and/or the Last Post Fund.

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