Nova Scotia

N.S. veteran's medical info lands in Ont.

A Nova Scotia veteran wants to know how some of his personal health information ended up in the hands of another veteran three provinces away.

A Nova Scotia veteran wants to know how some of his personal health information ended up in the hands of another veteran three provinces away.

Danny MacIntyre of Fall River, N.S. served two tours in Bosnia and one in Afghanistan. When he returned home, he was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Since then he's developed other illnesses including bruxism, a condition where he grinds his teeth.

MacIntyre said he's been fighting with Veterans Affairs for months to get his teeth fixed under his benefits and had written to Minister of Veterans Affairs Jean Pierre Blackburn asking for his help.

The minister responded by letter, but instead of going to MacIntyre in Nova Scotia, the letter ended up in Windsor, Ont., addressed to Frank Gabriel, another veteran with no connection to MacIntyre.

MacIntyre said he and his family were shocked when they heard of the mix-up.

"My wife was distraught over it and I don't know what to say, like, really? There should be an apology. Someone should be held accountable for what has happened," said MacIntyre.

"It scares me and it hurts me. When I talk about it I get emotional because it's things that are very personal to me that I've been fighting with VAC and advocating for myself and pushing to get these things recognized," said MacIntyre.

He said he was lucky to get his letter back and he's grateful a fellow veteran was the person to get his private information.

Gabriel said it should never have happened.

"If I had been someone else, opened the letter and said 'well listen, this isn't mine' and thrown it in the garbage… it's a good thing it came to someone that is in his shoes," said Gabriel.

Veterans Affairs has been sharply criticized recently for mishandling veterans' private medical information, something the minister had vowed to clean up.

Gabriel said someone in Blackburn's office should lose their job over this latest mix-up.

"He can't clean up his own office. How is he going to clean up VAC?" said Gabriel.

In November, Blackburn issued an apology to Sean Bruyea, a former intelligence officer whose medical information was shared widely in the department.

Then in December, veteran Wayne Finn said he was stunned to discover other service members' dates of birth, social insurance numbers, blood test results and X-ray reports mixed in with his own military medical file.

Late Friday, the minister's office sent a statement to CBC.

"I have just been informed of this situation and I am outraged by this. I have instructed the department to look into this immediately in order to provide me with a full, detailed account of this situation. I will also be calling the veterans involved personally to offer my personal regrets and the assurance that this situation will be addressed as quickly as possible," said Blackburn in the email.

MacIntyre said despite its promises, the statement shows not much has changed and he wonders how many other veterans have had their private information sent to strangers.

On Saturday, both MacIntyre and Gabriel confirmed that the minister had personally called them to apologize on Friday evening.

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