A Canadian Armed forces veteran and his family have filed a human rights complaint against Veteran Affairs Canada after what they describe as a fight with the government, for more than a decade, to access proper medical and mental health treatments.
Shane Jones joined the military in 1997 and says during his ten-year career, he encountered some traumatic experiences that have stayed with him since he was medically discharged from the Armed Forces in 2008.
Jones and his battalion were deployed to help in the recovery of the Swissair Flight 111.
The flight from New York was bound for Geneva, Switzerland Sept. 2, 1998, when it crashed into the ocean off the coast of Nova Scotia. A short circuit in an electrical system had ignited the covering of the thermal acoustic insulation in the plane’s fuselage. All 229 people aboard were killed.
Jones says that experience led to a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2001.
His final tour of duty in Afghanistan ended in a fatal collision when the light armoured vehicle he was driving flipped and rolled. A fellow soldier was killed and Jones suffered a traumatic brain injury that ended his military career.
Jones said these injuries have forever changed his life.
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“On any given week I have two-to-four appointments,” said the 43-year-old retired corporal.
Jones says he’s now been having to fight the government and Veterans Affairs Canada to get the treatment he needs for his physical and mental well being.
“The last thing you want to do when you come home from serving your country is to have to turn around and have to fight your government,” said Jones. “I’m constantly having to fight for myself and my family, and fight for treatment.”
In 2016, Jones said his VAC case manager tried to close his file but he refused to let that happen.
A year later, there were changes to his medication coverage and he says his chiropractic treatments were no longer being covered.
Jones then began to protest and raise the issue publicly and on social media. He says that’s when a red flag was put on his file and his relationship with VAC staff began to fester.
“It’s not my husbands’ injuries that are making him and keeping unwell,” said his wife Veronica. “It’s actually the treatment from the department.”
Veronica says her husband’s mental health struggles and the effects of his brain injury have affected those closest to him.
Their 14-year-old daughter was diagnosed with secondary PTSD and said Veterans Affairs covered her initial 20 therapy sessions, but the coverage stopped in May, which Veronica says is against government and VAC policy.
“It says in the policy that if any benefits or treatments are to cease that VAC is to cover the costs until alternate arrangements are made.”
Global News reached out to Veteran Affairs for comment about the Jones’ family and their daughter’s loss of mental health coverage. In a statement, they said: “Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has not made any recent changes to the policies that cover mental health services for family members. Due to the Privacy Act, VAC is unable to discuss specifics of an individual’s case.”
The family is now on the provincial mental health support waitlist and is paying out of pocket — roughly $600 a month — for their daughter’s treatments.
In the meantime, they have filed a human rights complaint against Veteran Affairs, which the Jones family says is currently being investigated.
Jones said he would never change his decision to serve in the Armed Forces but says he second-guesses how he’d deal with his exit from the military.
“I often wonder if I didn’t even bother with VAC would I have been able to get myself better?”
Jones says he wants to see a judicial review of his file — he doesn’t want other veterans to have to fight for their compensation and support.