14 November 2012

Harold Leduc calls on AG to Investigate Privacy Violations

 NOTE: After sending out today's release calling for a public inquiry into VAC, I received a phone call from Harold Leduc, the veteran and former-member of the Veterans' Review and Appeal Board.  He wanted to thank me for my release and discuss the privacy violations.  I won't delve on what was done to this soldier - you can find that elsewhere - but consider the travesty.  He served Canada twice, once as a soldier, then again on VRAB.  He was injured both times.  The first wounds were part of being a soldier.  The second ones came when those he was working with used his service injuries to bully, harass, intimidate, and humiliate him in order to stop him from exercising his duties.

It is awful that someone's private medical records are passed around like notes in grade school.  It is horrific that anyone's medical conditions should be wielded as weapons against them.  It is obscene that adults would behave that way, like bullying teenagers.  It is offensive that any veteran should be made to suffer twice from the same injuries.

There is no word for what happened to this man.  Injuries sustained in defence of Canada were used to harm him by fellow Canadian civil servants.

Canadians are owed an explanation.

It is my honour to host this release from WO (ret'd) Harold O. Leduc MMM CD - JRM
13 November 2012

Victoria, BC - Growing up in the Canadian way is an aspect of life that I take very, very seriously. This very same way of living demonstrates kindness, caring, and compassion towards all, especially those who have been injured or killed while defending our beautiful Country. I served my country with dignity and respect. Taking care of my injured brothers and sisters by assisting them in their struggle to get some small amount of compensation was and will always remain an honor. It is therefore with sadness that I must say:

I’m disgusted that the Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) shows no shame in covering up nefarious activities that target and seriously harm disabled veterans with illegally gained information from privacy breaches.

Therefore today I am asking the Attorney General of Canada to fully investigate all circumstances associated with these despicable attacks against our Country’s defenseless disabled veterans to determine if charges are warranted.

The Minister admitted stopping an ongoing investigation that would have implicated him and others. He knows that the Privacy Commissioner’s investigation would clear him because of their restricted mandate and because VAC had already cleaned up their act in May 2009 when my privacy breaches were investigated and apologized for. He’s shown that he can’t be trusted.

It’s no wonder my numerous pleas to the Prime Minister, Minister, the Privy Council Office and Veterans Ombudsman to stop the vile behaviour of the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) officials that severely injured my military related PTSD fell on deaf ears. The Minister knew his official’s put my life was at risk and acted in contempt of the 2010 Canadian Human Rights Commission mediation but he let them increase their retaliation against me anyway.

The public record shows that these nefarious activities are wide spread and target more than a few disabled veterans who’s only crime is that they were disabled in our country’s service and are trying to improve their fellow veterans and families quality of life to the level this Government has promised.

It’s time to stop the Government’s abuse against defenseless disabled veterans and it’s time for the Attorney General to investigate the Minister’s covered up. Don’t let us down, Attorney General, we’ve suffered enough and veterans deserve nothing less that justice, truth, reconciliation and a Government that is honest and transparent.

It’s generally accepted that to abuse a disabled person is low; but to deliberately hurt defenseless disabled veterans who were injured standing up for democracy and their rights is the lowest of the low. I am certain the voting public will agree!

For more information or to schedule an interview please contact Harold Leduc via me and I'll connect you.

Veterans Affairs Needs Public Inquiry



St. John’s - Privacy breeches at Veterans Affairs have not been properly investigated, according to citizens’ group Our Duty, and it is calling for a full public inquiry.

This comes days after it was revealed that Minister Steven Blaney ordered a halt to an investigation by the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman shortly after Blaney took office.

“The federal government has been playing a shell-game with the truth,” said Our Duty President Jeff Rose-Martland, “It is time for an independent public inquiry.”

The issue first came to light 2 years ago with the Sean Bruyea affair. A veteran and advocate, Bruyea had his medical files pried into by the Minister’s office after he spoke out against the New Veterans Charter. But Bruyea was not the only person targeted. It also emerged that Sgt Tom Hoppe, a decorated veteran, and former Ombudsman Pat Stogran were also victimized by the Ministry. Deputy Minister Tinning was briefed on the medical records of Retired Forces Nurse Louise Bird prior to a meeting. Private medical information was used to bully Harold LeDuc of the Veterans’ Review and Appeal Board. The veteran behind the SISIP class-action suit against Veterans Affairs, Dennis Manuge, had his medical and financial records used in a Ministerial briefing. Sylvain Chartrand, advocate for reservists, had his records passed from VAC to National Defence.

“Enough is enough,” said Rose-Martland, “The Privacy Commissioner investigated, but could only report on non-compliance. The Ombudsman’s investigation was ordered by Minister Blackburn to look into why these breeches took place. Then came the election, Blackburn was replaced by Blaney, and suddenly the Privacy Commissioner is the one supposed to handle it. This is nothing more than a cover-up.”

Our Duty has been made aware of dozens of cases. “It appears to be standard procedure for VAC officials. As soon as a veteran speaks out, senior bureaucrats in the Ministry go digging into Service Delivery files,” said the citizen advocate, “That’s absolutely forbidden by the Privacy Act and by VAC policy. The Ministry and Service Delivery are supposed to be separate entities. If a veteran has a problem with Service Delivery, they have to appeal to the Deputy Minister to request a Ministerial review - the Minster is not permitted to act on his own. So why, exactly, can the Ministry pull those same files when a veteran criticizes them?”

“It gets worse,” Rose-Martland continued, “We have learned that family members of advocates have also been targeted. Why? Why would the Minister need to know what someone’s brother’s file says? He wouldn’t, not legitimately. The public needs to know what sort of games the Ministry is playing with peoples lives.”

Our Duty notes that Minister Blackburn had promised departmental officials would face severe sanctions for these acts, yet those officials received bonuses last year.

“We have inquiries stifled and cut off. We have threats and intimidation by Veterans Affairs. We have people who broke the law being rewarded. All on the taxpayer dime.”

“We want a full public inquiry into these matters,” said the Our Duty President, “The public needs to know exactly what has been happening in that Ministry: who is doing these things, who ordered it, and most importantly, why? What has this information been used for? And is this still going on?”

“This inquiry needs to have teeth. It needs to be able to investigate and to lay criminal charges. Most importantly, it needs to report back to the taxpayers, because we are the ones who will be paying damages.”


Jeff Rose-Martland

30 July 2012

On Publishing and Writers.

I was invited by the Newfoundland Writers' Guild - a group of veteran authors and former publishing professionals - to give a presentation on ebooks, print-on-demand, and DIY publishing.  The lecture was given on 22 July 2012 at the Rotary Sunshine Camp in St. Phillips, NL.

In preparing this lecture, I met with WG President Raoul Andersen to discuss specifically what the Guild wanted to learn about.  The answer was a combination of vague - "everything, what's going on and how it affects us" - to specific - "how hard is it to put out an ebook and what's involved."  The WG's membership is largely older writers (some of whom have done very well) and they were a) frustrated with the problems they have started running in to when seeking publishers and b) had heard a lot about epublishing but knew little.  I was brought in as an expert in the field.

I'm not sure I agree with that title, but I have been battling against and monitoring the industry for about a decade now and, most importantly for the Guild, I know more than they do.

I have decided to make that lecture and related materials available to anyone who is interested.  Below are videos of the lectures, the audio-only files, the handout given to the audience, and my own (unedited) notes.  There is no prepared speech.  You may download and use the material (or parts thereof) with attribution.

Lecture Handout (Word Doc)

Lecture Pt 1 - The State of the Publishing industry

Audio Only

Lecture Pt 2 - DIY Publishing

Audio Only


Lecture Notes (Word Doc)

The Espresso Book Machine, in Action!!! (Thanks to CBC Manitoba.)

You may cite the documents, audio, and video as:

Jeff Rose-Martland, Address to the Newfoundland Writers' Guild, 22 July 2012
© 2012 Jeff Rose-Martland

22 June 2012

Government Stonewall Buys Media Silence

Silence used to be career suicide for a politician. Politicians would feel compelled to answer questions, even if there was no content in their response. Side-stepping, dodging, ducking, and verbal dancing were skills essential for public office. Even when annoyed by their evasion, one could always admire the skill with which a question was handled - just like acknowledging a well-shot goal by the opposing hockey team.

The Harper Government has abandoned that. They don't do verbal puck handling. They just shut up.

Take, for example, Bev Oda's months long vow-of-silence regarding that altered memo. Or the Harper Government's refusal to disclose budget details.

Or Steven Blaney.

Regular readers have heard about Cpl Fabien Melanson before. Summary: in 2004, VAC made a mistake and sent his pension to someone else for 5 months, the result of which was the loss of his home and a suicide attempt. He's been fighting for justice since; and me with him. Minister Blaney can - and should - act to remedy this; that's the job of a minister.

Minister Blaney has employed the silent treatment. For over a year, he has not only refused to act, he has refused to interact. Neither he nor his office will respond to emails, phone calls, faxes, or messages relayed via other MPs and Senators. Not a word to Fabien.

For Minister Blaney, this tactic seems to be working. Since he refuses to comment, the media won't cover the story. For the press, 'minister holds his tongue' is not news, it isn't a story. Fabien's loss has already been reported. Blaney's continued inaction is not news worthy.

But that is the point: the key issue behind Fabien's entire struggle has been the uncaring VAC bureaucracy and its refusal to take responsibility for what it did. By refusing to discuss it, Blaney is continuing the abuse of this veteran.

And he's getting away with it. Because 'no comment' is not news.

At the beginning of this month, Fabien's property and land were repossessed because he cannot afford the repairs. The minister did not intervene. However, we were assured, through multiple unofficial sources, that the Minister's office was sending a letter. Three weeks later and no correspondence has appeared. More silence; the Minister was just buying time with vague, unofficial, assurances.

Since we cannot respond to a non-existent letter, there remains nothing to report in the media.

There should be public outrage. This veteran has been mistreated for 8 years and, in a few weeks, will lose everything because of the VAC bureaucracy. The person who is responsible for veterans won't speak to or about him. The public should be offended that any Minister would keep silent over such an affair.

They should be. But they won't. Because the public won't hear about it; the media won't report it.

The House closed this week. Question Period will be over until the fall. Minister Blaney will get another two-and-a-half months to ignore Cpl. Fabien Melanson. By the time the Commons resumes sitting, Fabien's property will be disposed of and the devastation VAC began in 2004 will be total. I imagine the Minister will claim then that the issue has been resolved.

But you likely won't hear about that either.

By then, it will be old news as well.

Which is, after all, the point of all this silence: if they keep quiet long enough, the problem goes away. The budget passed without disclosure. Oda was never held to account for altering a legal document. And Fabien Melanson will no longer have property to fight for.

01 June 2012

Minister Neglects Duty, Vet will lose Home

The ongoing saga of Fabien Melanson hit another low yesterday.  Our appeals to Minister Steven Blaney (VAC) have gone unanswered.  We needed him to act quickly to prevent Fabien from losing his house.

Blaney has mailed us a letter.  Apparently.

So much for today's deadline for saving the house and property.

The situation is very simple: in 2004, VAC made an error and sent Fabien's pension to the wrong account.  It took VAC 5 months to fix, an unreasonable amount of time.  The loss of income halted renovations on Fabien's home and it received significant weather damage.  VAC paid the back-pension but has done nothing about the impact those missing funds had.

VAC admits, in a letter from last June, that they were responsible for the error and the Fabien suffered as a result.  The Department doesn't have a policy for dealing with this.  That means that the Minister is the one who has to make it right.  We've been trying to get the Minister involved for a year.  He still has not responded to any of the emails, faxes, or phone calls made to his office (although, it seems, there is a letter in the mail.)

Minister Blaney had the responsibility and authority to resolve this.  He also has a responsibility to engage with the veterans who need his help.  Not only is it common courtesy, it is also part of his job.

I find that Steven Blaney has neglected his duties to a massive degree.  If he will not perform the responsibilities of his position, then he should have the decency to step down.

If you agree, or if you think what happened to Fabien is ridiculous, so something; write or call the media.  Tell your friends to do the same.  Neve rmind your MPs - government ignores us and Opposition is powerless.  The only way this may be fixed is massive public outcry.

Write a letter to a newspaper.  Phone a radio Call-In show.  Email your favourite news provider.  Call local TV.

Tell everyone who will lister what has happened to Fabien and how you feel about it.

You can include information from this news release:


Veterans Affairs Inaction Costs Veteran Home; Advocate Calls for Minister’s Resignation

St. John’s (Our Duty) – Cpl Fabien Melanson of Cap-Pele, NB will lose his house tomorrow, the end result of a 2004 clerical error by Veterans Affairs, and his advocate is calling for the Minister to resign.

The Van Doo veteran served in Croatia and liberated a hospital in Bosnia. He retired to his hometown when his PTSD prevented him from serving. Then his real war began.

In 2004, Melanson’s pension went missing because Veterans Affairs sent it to the wrong bank account. Despite constant calls, VAC did not correct the error for 5 months. By the time he did get his money, Cpl Melanson’s finances were in ruins. So was his house - the missing pension halted renovations and weather damage rendered the veteran’s home unliveable.

For the next 7 years, Fabien Melanson fought with Veterans Affairs to get them to fix his house. It took a hunger strike last June to get VAC to acknowledge their responsibility. But VAC claimed it ‘had no mechanism” for paying for the repairs.

“That’s highly misleading,” says Melanson’s advocate, Jeff Rose-Martland, “The Department may not have a policy, but it does have a way to do so. The Minister can do it.”

Rose-Martland is referring to ex gratia payments, where a Minister can use discretionary funds to address issues which fall outside of normal procedures.

“We’ve been trying to get the Minister to fix this for a year. We sent our first appeals for help during the hunger strike. We have been emailing, faxing, and phoning regularly since, but the Ministry has been unresponsive. I did speak with an aide in February who said they were looking into it; that’s the only response we’ve had.”

Tomorrow, Bridgewater Bank will proceed with legal action to sell the property. “Fabien’s been doing his best to meet his obligations, but 8 years of being homeless have taken their toll. Most of his income has been going to pay the mortgage on a house he can’t live in, and to store his possessions. He got behind in his payments, Bridgewater discovered the condition of the house, and the clock has been ticking since. We have until tomorrow to provide them with a payment plan and construction schedule.”

As Melanson has no funds for rebuilding, sale of the property is inevitable and Rose-Martland says the Minister is to blame.

“Ever since he was appointed Minister, Steven Blaney has had both the authority and responsibility to fix this,” he says, “VAC admitted their responsibility a year ago; the Minister has a duty to make reparations. The Minister should have been seeking us out, not the other way around. Now, Fabien is going to lose his house and land, and the Minister still won’t act. He won’t even pick up the phone.’

Late today, Rose-Martland received word that the Minister will reply. By mail.

“Since Bridgewater Bank said they were going to sell the place, we’ve been hounding the Minister’s office, begging him to do his duty. He ignored us; no response at all. This afternoon, we found out – through sources other than the Ministry – that they have mailed a letter to us. An 18th century reply to a 21st century problem.”

The advocate is now calling for the Minister to resign. “Since he was appointed Minister, Steven Blaney has had a duty of care to see this issue resolved,” says Jeff Rose-Martland, ”He has willfully ignored that responsibility and is in dereliction of his duty. If he will not discharge his duties as required, then, as a citizen, I ask him to resign his position as Minister Responsible for Veterans Affairs.”

The distraught veteran is unavailable for comment.

Jeff Rose-Martland
President, Our Duty Inc

07 May 2012



Certain allegations have been made across the veterans community regarding Our Duty Inc and Jeff Rose-Martland.  These allegations are 100% but for the sake of those who have questions, here are the answers:

1 - Our Duty was formed in August 2010.  It was incorporated in Newfoundland and Labrador in July 2011.  During its existence, it has raised no more than a few 100 dollars.  These is no financial statement because a) 2011 would be the first tax year one was required and b) we didn’t have any finances to make statements about.

2 - Our Duty is not now and never has been a veterans organization.  From first concept, it have been a CITIZENS organization.  We advocate to improve veterans benefits because veterans have a social contact with citizens.  Our Duty represents the other part of that contract.

3 - Despite being staffed solely by volunteers, Our Duty and Jeff Rose-Martland have achieved significant accomplishments.  Jeff Rose-Martland was named to the Office of the Veterans Ombudsman Advisory Committee.  He has also been PR and Communications for the group and has been interviewed multiple times, nationally and locally.  In March, Our Duty released its first major report: a critique of the 2010 VAC Client Survey.  That report gained the attention of both media and politicians.  Our Duty and Jeff Rose-Martland have also consulted with, advised, and represented organizations and individuals.  As well, Jeff Rose-Martland served as Communications Director for the 2010 NL Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest and for Fabien Melanson’s hunger strike in June 2011.  He continues to represent Cpl Melanson to Veterans’ Affairs.  ALL OF THAT HAS BEEN DONE WITHOUT FEES, CHARGES, OR FUNDING.

4 - the ourduty.org website was caught in a mass malware site hack last month.  This one: http://www.pcworld.com/article/254071/google_warns_20000_websites_that_could_be_infected_with_malware.html

As soon as we became aware, we notified members via Facebook and Jeff Rose-Martland posted the info to his personal blog, which he has been using as a back up until we can get the site fixed.  See here: http://viewfromtheedgeoftheworld.blogspot.ca/2012/04/broken-soldiers-epilogue.html dated 23 April. 

AS WE ADVISED AT THE TIME: you can still access ourduty.org provided you type the address into the browser bar.  It is when you use a search engine, particularly Google, that you get the malware. 

5 - This will be our final word on the matter.  Our record speaks for itself.  We are the ONLY citizen group working on the issue of veterans benefits.  We have been dedicated and diligent and scrupulous in our work.  These allegations are patently false and we will be seeking legal recourse.

We regret to inform you all that, effectively immediately, we have ceased operations pending legal advice.

What Is Your Support Worth?

Do you support the troops?  Do you care about veterans?  Wear red on Fridays?  Have a yellow ribbon on your car?


Let's take it to the next step: digging in and helping one specific veteran.

I've got one: a guy who  served in Croatia, who helped rescue the Drin Hospital patients, who has a number of injuries, especially PTSD.  Veterans Affairs made an error in 2004 and deprived him of his pension for months.  By the time he got what he was owed, his house was in ruins, his finances in tatters, and he'd attempted suicide.  Eight years later, after a high-profile hunger strike, he has a letter of apology from VAC.  Until this month, he had been homeless.  His home is still  in ruins and his finances still in tatters.  He still owes a mortgage on the uninhabitable property, which is in foreclosure.

It was his grandparents home.

As if that wasn't enough, we have discovered a very active campaign has been working to discredit him.  A few people have been contacting potential donors and telling them his plight is all a scam.

It isn't.

Every word of his plight is true and can be checked by anyone.   Google: Fabien Melanson Veteran *

$5000 gets his property back in his possession.  That's where we start, now.

So the question I have is this:

Will you help me with this one veteran?

The entire time I've been trying to throw him a rope, others have been reeling it short.

Will YOU help rescue just one veteran? Please?  You wear the red every week, you wear the ribbon with pride, you talk about heroes... will you do something to help one?

Or is that all just talk?

Donation info:

Anyone can help, every donation counts.  If 5000 give a loony, this vet gets his house back from the lawyers.  If 2500 people skip coffee, we can do it.  If 500 people skip the drive-thru... you get the idea.

Paypal/email transfer to fabien@ourduty.org or poca@ourduty.org


Donations can be made to TD Bank (direct or wire transfer)
Transit #: 05023
Institution #: 004
Account #: 6418137
Name: Jeff Rose-Martland for Fabien Melanson

Cheques & Money Orders
Payable to: Jeff Rose-Martland for Fabien Melanson

Send to:
Fix Fabien's House
4 Neville Pl.
St. John's, NL
A1E 2E7

We will accept everything from copper pennies to gold bars.  But please, no rubber cheques.

*there's another Fabien  Melanson who is a musician and all over the net.  Include 'veteran' to find the right one.

05 May 2012

Forces Barred from Benefit Debate: CDS

UPDATE:  The release below was written on 24 September 2010, in the lead up to the first Canadian Veterans National Day of Protest.  The Office of the Chief of Defence Staff had advised the Forces members might face criminal charges if they participated.

In light of Cpl. Steve Stoesz's being charged for speaking out on DND's plans to scale back mental health services, I thought it would be a good time to re-post. - JRM

Forces Barred from Benefit Debate: CDS

While politicians wrangle over support for disabled veterans, future beneficiaries are banned from the debate.  Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are forbidden to comment on the programs designed to assist them when they are injured.  Flying in the face of sensible policy development and common sense, disability benefits are arranged without input from future stakeholders.

According to the Chief of Defence Staff, soldiers may not even express an opinion.  In an email obtained by ourduty.org, CDS Staff Officer Major Raymond Farrell explained “No member of the CF, including the CDS, may give the impression, even unintentionally, that he is taking sides on an issue before parliament.”  Doing so could result in disciplinary action - up to and including charges under the Nation Defence Act - for conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline.  With this threat, the Canadian Armed Forces are effectively muzzled.

Public consultation is farcical when the public cannot comment.  If the Forces cannot even accidentally hint something is good or bad for fear of prison, then committees will never get meaningful input.  Parliament will implement any benefit program it wishes; the troops cannot object. 

Worse than that, Forces personnel must support any such program, right or wrong.  In that same email, the CDS office states, “Nor may [a soldier] embarrass the Government of Canada.”  Troops are barred from participating in rallies, protests, or political activity.  A subsequent message from Major Farrell indicated that Forces staff could face charges even if the participant was off duty and out of uniform.  There’s no escape from these heavy-handed laws.  Requesting that personnel be granted release to follow their conscience as civilians, an appeal to Chief of Defence Staff, General Natynchuk, resulted in the answer, “the CDS will not make an exception either way.”

These directives ensure not only that Forces will not be consulted, but that they must support any plan developed.  In this case of take-it-and-like-it, the message from the CDS is clear: Shut Up, Soldier!

By Jeff Rose-Martland, founder of OurDuty.org 

NOTE: The above released prompted John Ivison of the National Post to pontificate on the essential reason for the laws as they stand. My response can be found here.



Forces personnel are subject to the National Defence Act AND the Queens Rules & Orders.  Both address the issue of speaking out.

National Defence Act

S129. (1) Any act, conduct, disorder or neglect to the prejudice of good order and discipline is an offence and every person convicted thereof is liable to dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty’s service or to less punishment.

Queens Rules and Orders

 (1) No officer or non-commissioned member shall make remarks or pass criticism tending to bring a superior into contempt...

(2) No officer or non-commissioned member shall do or say anything that:

(a) if seen or heard by any member of the public, might reflect discredit on the Canadian Forces or on any of its members; or
(b) if seen by, heard by or reported to those under him, might discourage them or render them dissatisfied with their condition or the duties on which they are employed.

30 April 2012

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)

This is a special submission to Our Duty by Gerry.  Since this is such an important issue, I am re-porting it here.


Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
March 8 2012
Gerry Fostaty

I have been travelling around lately, speaking to groups about post-traumatic stress disorder.

At the start of my talks about PTSD to folks, I tell a story about a neighbour, a toad and me.  The story isn’t important. The important thing is that it illustrates that we sometimes make assumptions, when we don’t have all the facts. That’s the way it is with post-traumatic stress disorder. People make all kinds of assumption about PTSD. It used to be known by many descriptions: shell-shock, battle fatigue, the thousand-yard stare, and of course, cowardice, among others. (Unfortunately, it still is in some circles.) But in the 1980s, some smart people realized that what the sufferers were experiencing wasn’t behavioural, it was neurological. They discovered that you can’t just snap out of it, man up, grow up, or get over it. In the 1980s it became a recognized clinical disorder. Although we most frequently associate PTSD with the military, PTSD can affect anyone. It doesn’t discriminate by gender, age or occupation. It is an equal-opportunity disorder.  There are some occupations that may be more exposed to the stimulus that create a host for PTSD.  The military, emergency first responders like police, firefighters, paramedics, emergency room nurses and doctors are all obvious candidates, but victims of violent accidents, crime, assault, terrorism, abduction, and rape are also at risk.

So what brings it on? Here is my simplified version.

When our minds experience trauma, that is, when we feel that our lives are in danger, or the lives (or well being of those we are responsible for) are in danger, or we feel utter helplessness in a perilous situation, our brains, not surprisingly, become most interested in our survival. The brain triggers a response that immediately has our bodies create a massive amount of adrenaline that floods through us, giving us a rapid and intense burst of energy.  This energy is channelled to our gross motor limbs, our arms and legs, to help us either defend ourselves, or escape the danger. That is commonly called the “fight or flight” response.  Most times brains are able to reset after the trauma is past, but if the trauma is particularly profound, or prolonged, or is repeated, something else occurs. A deep neural pathway is created in the brain. The brain feels that it will need the memory of the trauma again soon, so it hangs on to the info, and it has its hand ready on the adrenaline switch . . . just in case we’ll need to fight or flee again. In most cases, we won’t need that adrenaline again in the short term. But, the brain hangs on to the info.

So what can happen?

The problem is that our brains don’t understand that we don’t need the adrenaline, but it stays at the ready for a long time. In most cases, the brain relaxes and “resets” within thirty days, but in some cases it will hang on to that trauma, even for years. The brain may begin to look for opportunities to pull the switch. Things that are only barely associated with the old trauma, may present the brain with what it thinks are triggers. Sights, sounds and smells are very powerful triggers. When the brain feels that you are in danger again it flips the switch and the body is again flooded with adrenaline to help us escape or defend ourselves. After that happens a few times we begin to see a pattern and try to avoid the things that triggered the adrenaline. Being on guard and being watchful, trying to avoid the triggers is exhausting and can cause sleep disorders. The lack of sleep causes daytime fatigue and irritability, which can make us less able to recognise and avoid a trigger situation, causing another PTSD episode, like nightmares, flashbacks or an outburst of anger, or can lead to depression. This continues as a cycle, spiralling downward.  Once the switch has been pulled a few times as false alarms, the sufferer will become more aware of the triggers and try to keep away from them. Not only does the hyper-vigilance and hyper-awareness exhaust them, they may begin to retreat from what they used to enjoy; friends, family, sports and the other diversions that usually enrich their lives.  For them, however, they present unwelcome opportunities to trigger the PTSD. So the PTSD sufferer begins to withdraw from their former life, shunning their former normal life and further isolating themselves.

So what now?

The difficult thing is for the sufferer to recognise PTSD in themselves.  Many times the symptoms don’t seem to bind together in a way that easily lets them know they are affected. Everyone is different, and PTSD manifests itself in each person differently.  Once they suspect that they may have PTSD, the easiest thing is to let their family doctor know that they would like to be assessed. They’ll most likely be referred to a specialist who understands the disorder, and then will begin a journey toward health. There are treatments for PTSD, and they are effective. The treatments don’t remove the memory of the trauma; it just moves the memory from a place in the brain where it creates urgency and panic, to a place where it becomes benign.  Getting back to making assumptions when not having all the information: If you are suffering with PTSD, sadly it’s not just about you. An important thing to remember about treatment for PTSD, is that the sufferer is not only getting treatment for himself or herself. Their family and friends and co-workers are also affected by their PTSD.  Their family also experiences the effects of the flashbacks, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, depression, substance abuse and all the other baggage that chains the sufferer to this disorder. PTSD adversely affects the community which surrounds the sufferer. In the same way, treatment also benefits all those around the person suffering from PTSD.  Treatment is important and available.


Gerry Fostaty is the author of As You Were: The Tragedy at Valcartier published by Goose Lane Editions in 2011.

27 April 2012

Feds Unloading RCMP Responsibility: Advocate


Feds Unloading RCMP Responsibility: Advocate

St. John’s - Citizen advocacy organization Our Duty is condemning the federal government’s proposed budget plans for the RCMP. 

Yesterday, Assistant RCMP Commissioner Daniel Dubeau unveiled the Mounted’s deficit reduction plans to staff.  Entitled ‘RCMP Health Services Modernization’, the memo outlines a number of crucial changes, some of which “require authority to change legislation.”  Among the changes are: relegating medical costs from federal to provincial budgets, privatizing supplemental health insurance, outsourcing disability case management, and scrapping the RCMP’s current psychological support program.  It will also discard its current leave-entitlement program for a “sick-leave bank system”.

Our Duty President Jeff Rose-Martland says these moves amount to the federal government shirking responsibility.  “Care of our national police force is being dumped to provinces and private companies,” he said.

“By Act of Parliament, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is a federal body.  They serve by federal appointment and they answer to federal authority.  Whether they serve at home or abroad, Members of the Mounted are employed by the Government of Canada.  Members answer to the RCMP Commissioner, who answers to the Public Safety Minister of Canada.  It is a clear chain of command in one direction and a clear chain of responsibility in the other.”

The Our Duty President notes that the proposed changes will result in inconsistent benefits for the Mounted.  “Primary health benefits vary provincially, which means Members will be covered - or not - based on where they serve.  The cost of additional coverage will be levied on the officers, which will mean a pay reduction that varies by deployment.”

Rose-Martland also condemns the internal changes.  “A leave-bank system means that Members will have to earn time-off in advance.  That will have officers working when they are not fit because it’s January and they haven’t earned sick time yet.  Or worse, they will have used their available time and have to return to work when they are not capable of fulfilling their duties.  Leave-bank changes focus from performance to pay check.  We should want our police operating at peak ability, not mucking along until the boss says they can have time off again.”

He adds, “The outsourcing is going to alienate Members.  Right now, whether it is disability management or personal support, the Mounted looks after its own.  These changes will have Members appealing to outsiders and feeling abandoned by their peers.”

“The Federal government wants to use the Mounted but not take care of them,” the citizen advocate concludes, “No matter how you spin this, cost savings or efficiency, it still amounts to dereliction of duty.”


Media Contact
Jeff Rose-Martland
President, Our Duty



RCMP Health Services Modernization

As a government organization, we have a responsibility to spend taxpayer dollars wisely. Government agencies must always look for efficiencies and the RCMP must focus on keeping Canadians safe.

 Our Senior Executive Committee set two overarching principles as the basis for the RCMP’s deficit reduction exercise: minimize impacts on direct policing operations as well as the impact on RCMP employees.

 A number of our proposals require authority to change legislation in order to move our initiatives forward. On April 26, 2012, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act was tabled in the House of Commons so I can now provide you with some high-level detail on the RCMP Health Services Modernization proposals which will be implemented over the next two years and contribute to the RCMP’s savings.

 Basic Health Care

 The Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act is proposing that Regular Members fall under the Canada Health Act.   If adopted, Regular Members will need to apply to be covered by provincial health care. In addition, the RCMP will also be working with provinces and territories on how to implement this new process. This new approach to Regular Member health care will allow the RCMP to modernize its Health Services program.

 The inclusion of Regular Members in the Canada Health Act will allow the RCMP to decrease administrative functions that do not support core policing.   This opportunity will also realize financial savings for the RCMP and the provincial/territorial contract partners as Regular Members would be defined as an “insured person” under the Canada Health Act. Accordingly, Regular Members would no longer be billed to the contracting jurisdiction as non-provincial residents, which previously added to the cost of their treatment by as much as 200%.  

 If approved, a more detailed implementation plan, including how to apply for provincial health care/card, will be communicated to Regular Members.

Supplemental Health Care

 Regular Members will continue to obtain the health care services they require. In support of this, the RCMP will be moving its supplemental health care program to an actual insurance provider for supplemental health coverage rather than the current internally funded program.

 More information on this initiative will be communicated as we move forward with implementation plans.

Sick Leave

 The RCMP is examining the possibility of implementing a sick leave bank system. Under this proposal, all Regular and Civilian Members would accumulate sick leave instead of the current system of leave entitlements.

 The RCMP is also looking at establishing an internally-funded short-term disability program based on a leave bank system. This program is part of an overarching Disability Case Management Program to help manage a member’s return to work in a more professional, beneficial and timely manner.

Disability Case Management

 The RCMP is modernizing the administration of its current Disability Case Management Program by moving to an outsourced model which would have an external service provider undertake the administrative functions related to the management of individual member cases and associated return to work.

Member/Employee Assistance Program (M/EAP)

 The M/EAP program will transition to the Employee Assistance Services (EAS) program from the current peer-based referral agent. Health Canada’s Employee Assistance Services (EAS) provides a referral service when addressing psychological services. EAS is the largest public sector provider representing more than 140 organizations and over one million clients across Canada.

 All employees (including Regular Members) and their dependants will receive consistent, timely, professional and confidential access to short-term counseling services.  Services will be available from certified counselors 24 hours per day, 365 days a year though a telephone service.

 More information on this initiative will be communicated as we move forward with implementation plans.

 I recognize that you will have questions, especially on how these initiatives will impact you and when they will be implemented. A dedicated team has been established to oversee these Health Services Modernization initiatives. We will share more information and details with all employees as soon as they become available.


 D.G.J. Dubeau, A/Commr.
 Chief Human Resources Officer


23 April 2012

Broken Soldiers: Epilogue

Clerisy Entertainment's Broken Soldiers has been running on Eastlink-TV and one may be left wondering what happened to Fabien Melanson.  Here's what happened:
What Happened to the Hunger Striker?

The Our Duty website is have some technical problems, so I am re-posting this here.

If you want to help Fabien, you can give by:

Paypal/email transfer to fabien@ourduty.org

Donations can be made at  TD Bank
Transit #: 05023
Institution #: 004
Account #: 6418137
Name: Jeff Rose-Martland for Fabien Melanson

Cheques & Money Orders
Payable to: Jeff Rose-Martland for Fabien Melanson

Send to: Fix Fabien's House
4 Neville Pl.
St. John's, NL
A1E 2E7

(Regarding the Our Duty site - we seem to have bee caught up in the Google java-browser-hijack along with 20,000 other sites.  If you try to get to ourduty.org via facebook link or a search engine, you get security warnings and/or nothing.  If you click here: http://ourduty.org I hope you will get there.  If not, copy/paste the address into your browser and you will get there fine.  The site itself is safe, the hijacking/malware appears to occurs when coming in from facebook or search engines.  We are working on fixing that.)

28 March 2012

Now on The Huffington Post

I am pleased to say that my work is now on the Huffington Post!

A few weeks ago, Our Duty released an analysis of the Veterans' Affairs 2010 Client Satisfaction Survey.  When i sent out the press releases, I sent one to HP.  About a week later, the Canadian editor replied and asked if I could turn it into a blog.  I jumped at the chance; its not often an editor contacts the writer for work.

This is the result.

I'm pleased with it.  Huffington is giving me the opportunity to say what I think about the survey, instead of just analyzing it, and I'm always happy to give my opinion on something. ;)  Huffington are also willing to consider anything else I care to submit.

Here's a bit about my experience with the Post, for those who may be getting their first break.

Huffington does not pay for your articles.  However, given that they have editors and a high-profile, HP is an excellent writing credit.  (As you know, one of the things about being a writer is that you need other people to say you are good, otherwise people don't take you seriously.)

Next: Huffington does not work like a standard press platform.  While they want items that are timely (the editor was concern that I was writing about something from 2010), they also don't seem to suffer from the immediacy of, say, newspapers.  It took about two weeks to get my post up.

Part of the reason for that was scheduling: week 1, the editorial staff was short-handed.  After I bugged and bothered, I finally got a response requesting that I make my submission more timely.  I did a quick edit and had it sent back within 48 hours (it was a weekend, so I didn't rush).  After another week of silence, I needed to be a pain-in-the-ass again:  I had updated my post by hooking it to the federal budget, and budget day was less than 3 days away.  This time, it turns out the Editor was on vacation, but she interrupted her break to give it a read and send it to the posting staff (for which I am grateful).

My advice?  When submitting to the Huffington Post, make your blog timely but not time sensitive.  Write about something current which is either ongoing (say, robocalls right now) but not dated (like Elections Canada officials testifying today).  Huffington is not looking for news-stringers; they have staff that handles that.  What they want from you as a blogger is insight, analysis, and relevancy...but not immediacy.

It helps if you give the blogs-section a good skim before you begin; that should give you some good ideas on timeliness.

So I need to offer special thanks to Danielle Crittenden, both for giving me the opportunity and for putting up with my impatience.  You should check out her blog as well.  There a great article on vaginal drinking.  (no, I'm not making that up.)

24 March 2012

On Response Rates

We have a multitude of ways to communicate with each other: phone, fax, email, social media, instant messaging.  I'm sure if I looked, I could probably even find a telegram service (legit, not stripper).  All this technology, all these ways of contacting the right person to get your issue addressed, and what do these people do? 

Ignore everything.

Phone calls are handled by people who take messages or, more often, by electronic message boxes.  In either case, your message will likely be ignored.  Email goes unread.  E-messages and social media posts go unanswered.  Faxes get shredded or filed, no response.  We have all these communications methods and, when it comes to reaching the person you need to contact, you might as well be standing on the roof shouting for all the good it does.  And the more "important" the person, the less likely you are to hear from them. 

And if you do hear from their assistant, you frequently get the worse-than-silence response: a promise that your issue will be reviewed and you will be contacted.  In other words, stop trying to reach us; we've already trashed your communications.  Then there's the ever-popular out-of-the-office message: "I am out of the office and will be returning on XXX.  If this is urgent, please contact..."  Well, if it’s not urgent, you leave your message and expect that person will get back to you when they ARE in the office.  Apparently, that is not the case.  It seems that out-of-the-office is now an excuse to dump every message that came in during that time, as if they never occurred.

And then, there's my own private hellish torture: the people who contacted ME, and asked/offered something, who then disappear, leaving me clicking refresh on my email every 10 minutes for the next month.

Common courtesy in communications has gone the same way as politeness on the internet: down the sewer of self-importance.  One would think it would be easier to actually speak to the individual than to continue finding new ways of avoiding them. 

So I want to ask, appeal, implore, BEG you to change your methods.  If you don’t now and never will communicate with those who are trying to reach you, then at least be honest about it.  Take your contact info off your websites.  Set your outgoing message to something like "Don't bother; I'm not going to respond." 

And, above all, don't call people; make promises, and then bail.  That is the worst form of rudeness there is.

For their own good.

Whatever happened to pro bono publico? The idea that lawyers would do work to help the public in order to ensure equality before the law and to help individuals who could not afford to pay them? Where did that concept go?

 Last August, the GG said law firms in Canada donate less than 3% of their time to this fundamental legal ideal. 3%? You could have knocked me over with a feather. Because, as near as I can tell, that might be a couple of firms using ALL of their time, while the rest don't do any pro bono work.

 Because I've been pitching a simple case for a veteran who was mistreated. There is nothing complex or convoluted and it should be able to be resolved with a few letters written. I've approached dozens of lawyers and SIX pro bono societies. Response rate? 1. Not 1%, 1 response. And repeated querying of the societies supposedly dedicated to doing this work has not resulted in a single word. In my experience, the GG's estimate is grossly overinflated.

 Which leads me to suspect that every negative thing said about lawyers may be true. Because if not one will step up to help an impoverished veteran, then the profession really believes pro bono pocketo.

Money, money everywhere, but not a cent to help

Since I started fundraising for Our Duty, I have found it very difficult to listen to any news story that discusses money. 

To date, our biggest donations have come from veterans on fixed incomes, who have scraped together a few bucks out of their meagre pensions to support us.  It is amazing that they did and we appreciate every one.


Listen to any news cast you hear about hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars changing hands, as profit, as waste, as the fine-points in a negotiation, as the net-worth of a company that makes crap.  All that money, flowing all around.  And people like me, who are out there trying to fix a problem or make the world better; we have our hands out, saying please help me help others.  And the money whirls past, like in some pathetic game show booth.

A percent of a percent of the funds being discussed would turn any organization into a major force.  If would take operations out of basement or garage and into an office.  It would let the volunteer staff stop worrying about their own bills and focus on doing what they do best.  It would enable travel to significant events.  It would buy ads to help spread the messages.

But you try getting those funds.  Damn near impossible.

I'm afraid to add up the number of volunteer hours behind Our Duty or to tally the costs we have contributed.  I don't want to know how much we have donated because then I will be even more angry and disillusioned.  Especially since I know a lot of that time and energy has gone into fruitless funding appeals.

And the most aggravating part is the silence.  Letters, emails, phone calls, faxes - most are completely ignored.  Perhaps 1 in 1000 actually gets a response and that’s a 'no'.  The rest just disappear, like you flushed a great wad of your time and effort down the toilet.

The Haves not only won't help, they won't even listen.  Which creates our current situation:  Those with the least to give, give the most.

And that is heartbreaking.

20 February 2012

Dear Jeff Skoll

(Yes, this is a letter to Jeff Skoll.  You may read along.  You may even comment.  Even better, you can print this off and give it to Jeff, if you know him.  For that matter, if you know someone of similar mind and bank account, you can give this to them, too.)

We don't know each other and we probably don't have much in common.  I've shopped on eBay, I write, and I'm Canadian.  That's probably the end of the list.

Oh, one more thing: I also champion the underdog.

I've read a lot about your philanthropy over the past 24 hours, and I admire the way you are approaching it.  Good job.  I am always glad to see someone following their moral duty, especially when the only thing driving it is their own drive.

In fact, I have admired many who have done this: people who stick to their guns, who declare that a thing is right, and who do it regardless of harm to themselves.  I have a list of names: Romeo Dallaire, Linda Keen, Pat Stogran...and you.  And others.  Oh, its not that giving away your money is the big deal; many wealthy do so.  It is the WAY you are doing it.  I can see that you are personally involved in doing what is right and your money happens to be the tool you have handy.

As for me, I too feel this drive, this thing inside that tells me to stand up and point at things that are wrong.  18 months ago, this drive kicked in as I watched a man lose his job for standing up for what is right.  Col Pat Stogran, Canada's first Veterans' Ombudsman, lost his position because he was too outspoken.  Upon learning this, his first response was "Oh, you thought THAT was outspoken???  Tune in to tomorrow's press conference!"  And so he did hold a press conference and he blew the lid off a slew of problems at Veterans' Affairs.

Citizens like you and I, we don't pay too much attention to veterans.  We know people enlist in the RCMP and the Canadian Forces.  We know they get hurt and killed.  We stand proud of Canada's role in peacekeeping.  We wear our poppies on Remembrance Day.  But otherwise, we don't think much about them.  Part of that is because we don't want to think too much about the horrors they see and the things they endure.  The other part is that we think they are taken care of.  After all, this is Canada!  Of course they are looked after!  No one would even debate the need and there has never been a debate about funds.  We pay our taxes, secure in the knowledge that, of all government departments, Veterans' Affairs will be run properly and the vets looked after.

Which, of course, is completely naive when you think about it.

But Col Stogran changed all that for me.  He told me, a civilian, what was really going on.  And the veterans themselves, in comments on the press coverage, also told me the horrors of this department.  Within 48 hours, I had found the Col and offered to help spread the word (having some measure of social media skills).  He accepted.

A week later, I had a campaign, a website, and a name for the organization: Our Duty.  The purpose?  To fix Veterans' Affairs and to make sure that we take care of our veterans, at least in the way we thought we had been.

What's wrong over there?  Well, there's the big things: failure to cover exposure to Agent Orange/White/Purple and depleted uranium.  Pension clawbacks.  Replacing a monthly pension with a much smaller lump-sum award.  Then there's the small things: thousands of pages of policy.  Staffing problems.  Case mangers carrying a load of 1000+ claims.  Years-long processing times and decades long appeals processes.  And then there's the dirty things: passing around the private medical files of any critic.  Cutting benefits to those same critics.  Trying to get veterans who stand up for themselves committed to mental hospitals.  Yes, Jeff, its happening in your Canada.

Outraged?  So am I.  Motivated?  Well, I am.  So much that I have been labouring long and hard this past year-and-a-half.  OurDuty.org has become Our Duty Inc - a registered not-for-profit.  We even have a board of directors.  And a bank account containing $10 (our treasurer's recycling money).

And that's the problem: Our Duty is broke.  We have the drive to make things happen.  We have the knowledge and will to solve the problems.  We have the desire to stand and declare That Is Wrong!

But we don't have any money to do it.

We've donated thousands of hours in manpower, and we would gladly do so again, if we could just figure out how to pay our bills.  Our Duty could have a major impact, if we had enough cash to buy a few ads once in a while, to help spread the word.  And if we weren't all stressed out about making ends meet.  Because, as you know, advocacy doesn't pay.  At least, advocating for veterans doesn't pay.

In the land of the government grant, we can't get funds. Veterans' themselves are broke. The provinces say that veterans are a federal issue.  The Feds are hardly going to fund a group that is critical of them.  Philanthropists don't want to upset the government by funding advocacy.  And no one wants to sponsor a group that speaks truth to power.

Except, perhaps, you.

Jeff Skoll, you like underdogs?  Here's one.  Our Duty, a group of rogue citizens committed to fixing an entire government department, provided we can find a way to feed our families while we do that.

Jeff, you're a Canadian.  You know how important those uniforms are, the blue beret and the red serge.  You know what the Battle of the Somme means.  And Rwanda.  And Suez.  Haiti.  The Balkans.  Afghanistan.  And so on.  You know that Canada made those commitments and sacrifices, not for glory, but for humanity.  We have sent our fellow citizens to the furthest outposts of the globe, to bring peace and aid, or, when everything else fails, to bear witness to atrocities so that someone will know.  Our fellow citizens answer to call to fight, to rescue, to bag sand and shovel snow, to fly in blizzards and to march on ice, to get maimed or killed, because it is necessary.

Jeff, my fight is also necessary.  Someone, some civilian, an unbiased third party, needs to wade into this fight and bring stability. Veterans are biased one way; politicians and bureaucrats the other.  Citizens are the employers of both sides.  We can make the peace and fix the problems.  We can do it.  All it takes is clarity of vision, will to change, and drive to labour.  And a few bucks to pay for the gas.

Jeff Skoll: your veterans need you.  Your government needs you.  Your nation needs you.  I need you.  Will you help me make this right?

Best Regards,
Jeff Rose-Martland
President, Our Duty inc.

P.S. I am putting this letter into an electronic bottle and casting it adrift on the seas of cyberspace in the hope it finds you.