FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, January 31, 2014
Veterans gather for memorial of Brandon Veterans Affairs office
BRANDON – Veterans from Brandon and surrounding areas will gather outside the Veterans Affairs Canada office in Brandon this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to witness the closure of the office and the loss of their face-to-face services.
“I served in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Haiti. And I know what sacrifice means. But now we are being asked to sacrifice even more,” said Martin Haller, Brandon veteran. “Veterans in the Brandon area don’t want our office to close.”
Haller was one of the eight veterans to travel to Ottawa on Tuesday for a confirmed meeting with Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, but was left waiting when the Minister didn’t show up.
“Fantino is not in touch with veterans and their needs whatsoever. He’s just a puppet to Stephen Harper and he should resign. These closures are a betrayal of veterans and our service to this country.”
The files will be transferred to Shilo and Winnipeg. Currently, the Brandon office and Shilo office serve 1,934 clients, with five full time and one part time employee in Brandon and one full time employee in Shilo.
Brandon veterans will have to travel anywhere from half-an-hour to two-and-a-half-hours at a cost of $50-$100 out of pocket, as there is no public transportation between Brandon and Shilo. Meanwhile, veterans in Shilo and Winnipeg will see longer wait times and less face-to-face services, as those offices take on more files with no additional staff.
Veterans are committed to continuing the fight and will ensure this government is held to account now and in the next election.
“The services are going to go down, you can feel it already,” said Haller. “We want the offices reopened and the services restored and we won’t give up the fight.”