New Brunswick

Veterans Affairs contacts ex-soldier protesting at Gagetown

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole has instructed department officials to "look closely" into the case of a Canadian military veteran, who has taken to staging public protests in an attempt to get help.

Blair Churchill, 52, has been seeking treatment and help from department for almost a year

Blair Churchill seeks help from Veterans Affairs. 2:19

Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole has instructed department officials to "look closely" into the case of a Canadian military veteran, who has taken to staging public protests in an attempt to get help.

Blair Churchill, 52, says he's waited over 11 months for assistance for tinnitus, hyperacusis and depression.

Churchill, who spent 22 years in the military, says the process and paperwork of Veterans Affairs is a maze that has become impossible to navigate and he's now committed to protesting until he gets the help he needs. 

Churchill now sits at the entrance of 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown with signs made of Bristol board and Corn Flakes boxes that read "Minister O'Toole where are you?" and "Vet waiting 11 months for treatment from VAC."

Churchill says he's been through so much with the department he will settle for nothing less than a meeting with the minister and the treatment he says he needs.

O`Toole could not be reached for comment.

A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs Minister Erin O'Toole said the minister has asked department staff to "look closely" at Blair Churchill's request for help. (CBC)
Veterans Affairs spokesperson Kristen Sims provided a statement that says: "It's very concerning to the minister that the military veteran needed to go to such lengths to get answers from Veterans Affairs Canada and Minister O'Toole has instructed his team to look closely into this matter.

"All military veterans in Canada deserve to be treated with care, compassion and respect and they deserve to have their needs met promptly and thoroughly. It is our duty to serve those who have served Canada." 

Staff from the minister's office have spoken with Churchill and the department says the staff of Fredericton Conservative MP Keith Ashfield have also been in contact with him.

Churchill said he received a call Monday from the minister's office. He said he`s open to discussion, but he wants action and not more empty promises.  

Churchill has tinnitus and hyperacusis and he says the hearing problems were the result of his 22 years in the military. (CBC)
Churchill also said he's stopped by the office of his MP many times since August 21, 2014, and as recently as last week, but never got an appointment with Ashfield.

"I went in just the other day.They always tell me he`s in meeting and promise to get back to me but they never do." 

Ashfield said he was not aware of anytime Churchill requested a meeting with him.

"To my knowledge neither myself, nor my staff have ever received a formal request from Mr. Churchill," said Ashfield.

"But if he were to call, or to come in, we would certainly accommodate him."

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