I worked for VAC from Sept 16 to Mar 18 in the Scarborough office. I was there as the funding project manager for IG Toronto but did have many interactions with CMs, VSAs, Disability Benefits adjudicators, and others. There were no specific files discussed but there were many questions about environments, circumstances, attitudes, etc... Some had family members who were CAF members, others had no direct connection and all were very much interested in understanding the whole picture. I also had interactions with many former CAF members who were now employed with VAC, unfortunately they were mostly in Senior Advisor positions and had brought their 30 plus years of CAF institutionalization to VAC. Sorry but someone who made it to senior ranks and has a full pension plus their public service salary does not really relate to the majority of VAC clients especially the ones from the past 20 years or so. -------
For example: when I went to Winnipeg in Sept 16 for the VAC onboarding week (about 100 newly hired employees ranging from administration, CM, VSAs, etc...) They had a CF 101 portion delivered by two 30 plus year CAF members on secondment one a LCol and the other a CWO. Unfortunately, I had to sit there while they went on to perpetuate negative stereotypes of mostly NCMs by relating anecdotal stories of criminal offences and actions. The high light was when the LCol made a comment about the movies Broke Back Mountain and Heart Break Ridge... this had the room laughing except for myself and the people who were sitting at my table because they had seen how I was reacting to this very poor presentation until that point. (These two presenters went on to retirement and directly into VAC Senior Advisor positions)
Your suggestion about hiring Veteran Advocates within VAC for the specific support of the regional officer workers would be a good step. The CMs and VSAs who do all the direct work with Veterans need that support firsthand and not via a multistage decision/question stream. The challenge I see is background and ability of a Veteran to be objective in their communications regarding the multitude of individual experiences each Veteran has or had experienced. Like the example I provided above the challenge is finding qualified or I should say those who understand empathy and that the Veterans Well Being Act is legislation and not a place for your personal beliefs.
Regarding Christine's situation, the suggestion of MAID was from a Veterans Service Agent (it's been hinted at in regard to the investigation and statement that the suggestions are related to one VSA ) during a phone call. The letters referenced are regarding the denial of mobility supports and more specifically a ramp for her to access her home and parts for her wheelchair. Not sure how other so called Veteran support groups or Charities have not stepped up to the plate to provide this ramp??? Yes, it's a VAC responsibility to provide or deny based on the legislation but CMs and VSAs do have the ability to facilitate other avenues of funding for specific situations and circumstances.