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Each Year, Veterans Affairs Makes Me Prove I Lost My Legs

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In regards to Rick Mercer's rant from the other day, I was contacted by Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole for a request for a telephone conversation about my file.

Here's my response:

Minister Erin O'Toole,

I have had many issues in my nine years as a wounded soldier and as a vet.

After returning in 2006, the Department of Defence (DoD) did amazing things and worked tiredly on the issue and where VAC (Veterans' Affairs) failed to deliver they stepped up. Upon my retirement "my file" of course went to VAC and to quote a great writer "and this is where my trouble began."

The legion wrote a piece about my struggles in the beginning called the "The Quiet Fight." I personally prefer that method but alas even that method is being taken from me. It would seem that if I fight for myself things may change for me, but not sadly for the 700,000 others.

I have had my wheelchair taken away from me twice. First while in hospital due to lack of payment when DOD and VAC were in argument about who pays.

The second was just last year when upon getting a new chair it was felt by VAC that I didn't get the appropriate paperwork -- which was a doctor's note saying "Due to transformal amputations, Paul Franklin needs a new wheelchair."

During the recent Manulife lawsuit, I was approved of a pension but was not to receive it until a doctor confirmed my limb loss. This is something that has to be done every year presumably until age 65.

My ex and I have separated and I obviously pay child support and help her out. Every year, VAC challenges that fact with an incredibly disturbing letter that implies that I am a dead beat, that asks if my child still lives, and what I do for them. In response, my ex has to write a horrible letter stating what I do.

She suffers horribly from secondary PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), a condition not widely recognized in 2006 and very misunderstood even today.

This is but a glimpse into what is laughingly called "my file" too which in reality is actually "my life."

As to my friend Rick and his rant the other day, I let him tell my story not for my benefit, but for all vets and their families that fight through this horror every day of their lives.

I fear that a conversation with me about "my file" may solve "my concerns" but not the concerns of the 700,000 others. Until we are treated by all parties with the respect, dignity, honour, and compassion we deserve, then I can't in good conscience take a phone call regarding my issues.

-- Paul Franklin, Mcpl (ret)

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