POLITICS

Afghan veteran says government failing to help injured former military members

11/04/2013 02:37 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
HALIFAX - A military veteran who suffered multiple injuries when his vehicle rolled over in Afghanistan says the Canadian government is failing former soldiers by not providing the care they need.

Cpl. Shane Jones says he has been assigned more than three Veterans Affairs case workers since June and has had about eight since he was medically released from the Forces in 2008.

The 38-year-old father of three said that has impeded his treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury he sustained when his vehicle rolled over in Afghanistan in 2005.

He said he wanted to speak out at a news conference Monday in Halifax because he knows of many injured veterans who are struggling with bureaucratic red tape and regular upheaval in their care.

"There's no way they're ever going to get better if every couple of months they're getting a new case manager, which basically means they have to start at ground zero," he said.

"It's been six or seven years since my accident ... but I'm no further ahead today, treatment and recovery-wise, than when I first got off that plane."

Jones said he suffered a skull fracture, swollen brain and back injuries when the light armoured vehicle he was in rolled over in an attempted suicide bombing, killing one of the men in his vehicle.

Jones wants the federal government to stop planned cutbacks at Veterans Affairs and to beef up services for injured vets.

"The thing that's making me come forward is that you're going to cut back all these people and with the people you have now, you can't even manage to do your job properly," he said.

"It's been horrible."

A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said in an email that the minister has asked "to reach out to see what additional support and assistance can be provided to Cpl. Jones and his family."

He insisted services standards would not change as a result of the cuts.

Sylvain Chicoine, Veterans Affairs deputy critic for the federal NDP, said Ottawa's plan to cut hundreds of jobs at the department will be sharply felt by veterans.

"Many of our veterans require one-on-one assistance that cannot be met through a website, mobile app, or toll-free number," he said in a statement.

"New Democrats call on the federal government to reverse these cuts immediately and ensure veterans and their families receive the care they deserve."

Veterans Affairs Canada said in June that it was cutting almost 300 jobs, with many in Charlottetown, as part of an overhaul that will go on until 2015.