Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s Fall 2014 report, released today, confirmed what veterans needing mental health support have long known – they face bureaucratic barriers, unnecessary complexity, dizzying amounts of paperwork. The delays in waiting for medical records and approval of their benefits jeopardizes recovery. For some, already psychologically battered by their injuries, the fight for benefits can take years with added stress. According to the audit, almost a quarter of the 15,385 veterans who applied for long-term mental health benefits between 2006 and 2014 were denied. Those who pursued an appeal before an independent panel faced delays of up to three years.“The department doesn’t really seem to have spent time looking at the process from the point of view of the veteran,” Ferguson said. “And we think the department needs to put themselves in the shoes of the veterans who are trying to access these services, in order so they can understand the experience of trying to navigate through that whole process just to get an answer.”
Sadly, the veterans face many of the same challenges as Ontario’s injured workers in receiving their rightful benefits and support.