Health

Veteran Must Tell Government Yearly: Legs Still Missing

| by Michael Allen
WheelchairWheelchair

Retired Master Cpl. Paul Franklin of the Canadian Forces lost his legs in January 2006 after a bomb blew his limbs off just above his knees in Afghanistan.

Franklin has to inform the Canadian government via forms each year that his legs are still missing so that he can qualify for home care services and income replacement.

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"Every year, there are annual assessments that are done through Manulife, which is the insurance agency that we use, and through Veterans Affairs that you actually prove your condition," Franklin told CTV News in February.

"And unfortunately for me, I have to prove that I still have no legs, every year," Franklin added.

Franklin said that his wheelchair has been taken away by the government on two occasions over confusion about which government department would pay for it and what kind of doctor's notes he needed to provide.

"It’s insane," Franklin told the Edmonton Journal in April. "My problem with all this is if you have someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder or some sort of brain injury, or you have a combination of the two and they’re on street drugs or alcohol or whatever, the chance of them filling out the forms correctly is minimal at best."

Franklin believes that vets should only have to provide a doctor’s note if their condition has changed.

The Canadian government has switched from a standard monthly pension to paying vets per their injury and rank (higher ranks get more money for injuries), which sounds like similar cost-saving methods used by the VA system in the U.S.

"The problem is a corporal’s injury is worth less than a captain’s injury," Franklin stated. "That, for us, is brutal."

Franklin envisions a new system where veterans are given disability payments without the long paperwork requirements.

"It’s been 10 years and they still haven’t figured out I’m an amputee," Franklin asserted. "It’s more for the dudes that can’t do it … I don’t want this to be a hindrance to someone getting the care they need."

In response to Franklin's story, Canada's Veterans Affairs spokeswoman Janice Summerby said the agency's "minister has been mandated to work with the Minister of National Defense to reduce complexity, overhaul service delivery, and strengthen partnerships between Veterans Affairs and National Defense. This means clear guidance, timely access to benefits and services, and coordinated case management between both departments."

Sources: Edmonton Journal, CTV News / Photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography/Wikimedia