A Canadian soldier who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan is speaking out today, saying that being bounced around within the Department of Veterans Affairs is “destroying” his family.
'We go overseas, we fight for our country, we do what we're asked and when we come home it's like we have to start another war all over again just to get the help we need.' — Cpl. Shane Jones
Cpl. Shane Jones was among four soldiers injured, with a fifth killed, in 2005 when the light armoured vehicle they were travelling in rolled over after swerving to avoid a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. When the LAV flipped, it landed in a minefield, trapping him inside.
Jones suffered a traumatic brain injury in the accident and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Since his discharge from the military in 2008, Jones has had seven or eight different caseworkers — three since June — and has been bounced around from doctor to doctor.
“It’s so hard to get yourself better, it’s so hard to take the steps to admit you have a problem, to open yourself up and allow the help to come in,” said Jones. “And when they keep changing your case manager and you have to start from Square 1, you have to tell the story over and over and over again and there’s absolutely no need for it.”
He said it’s taking a toll on his family.
“While you guys are figuring out which doctor I’m going to go see or which case manager I’m going to have this month or next month — what’s happening is that it’s destroying my family. My kids don’t know from day to day which dad they’re going to get. Is he going to be happy? Is he going to be mad? Is he going to be on his own?” said Jones.
Like fighting 'another war all over again'
“It’s too much bullshit, sorry, but that’s what it is. We go overseas, we fight for our country, we do what we’re asked and when we come home it’s like we have to start another war all over again just to get the medical help we need. I never asked for any of this to happen to me. I know what I meant when I signed the dotted line but, silly me, I thought if something were to happen to me the government would take care of myself and my family. It’s been going on for years and years and years and it’s time for it to stop.”
Jones said a bad system was made worse once the cuts to Veterans Affairs were announced in 2011.
NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer blasted the Conservative government, alleging it's trying to “balance its books on the backs of veterans and their families.”
“The saga of him, and his wife and his family and what they’ve gone through with the Department of Veterans Affairs is completely unacceptable. This man and his wife are the heroes of our country and this being Remembrance Week we should be focusing even more on the quality and types of services that the men and women who serve our country deserve,” said Stoffer.
“Many of our veterans require one-on-one assistance that cannot be met through a website, mobile app, or toll-free number,” said NDP veterans affairs deputy critic Sylvain Chicoine.
A spokesman for Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said in an email that the minister has directed officials to reach out to the Jones family and find out what additional support and assistance can be provided.
The statement from the minister's office also touted improvements to veteran supports, which it said amount to $5 billion since 2006 in benefits, programs and services.
"That includes extensive new support focusing on the health and well-being of our ill and injured veterans and their families," a statement said.
"Veterans across Canada can continue to rely on home visits from nurses and case managers for those who require them.
"Service standards will not change and we remain dedicated to providing veterans with the same high-quality service to which they are accustomed, regardless of their geographic location.
Jones said if the government doesn't start taking care of its troops, it will lose them
“It’s just time for the BS to stop. None of us want to be in this position, it takes a lot to get to this point today when you’re a soldier asking for help,” he said.
Jones said he just wants to live his life and spend time with his family.