A vocal advocate for veterans with PTSD and their caregivers was in Prince Albert last week to share her story and connect with others in similar situations.
Jenny Migneault is travelling across the country and stopped in P.A. on July 25 and 26.
While Migneault has been fighting for years for more supports for her husband, a veteran diagnosed with PTSD, she rose to national attention in 2014 when then-Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino refused to stop and answer questions she had following a House of Commons committee hearing. She criticized Fantino and Veterans Affairs at the time for spending an additional $4 million on advertising and not putting the money towards improved services for those who care for injured soldiers, The Canadian Press reported.
Migneault hasn’t stopped fighting. She is a member of the Veterans Affairs Family Advisory Committee and is a blogger for the only French military news website.
Migneault has testified four times at parliamentary committees. She has also met with current Veteran Affairs minister Seamus O’Reagan.
Her current tour is partially focused on the new Caregiver Recognition Benefit, which she says is inaccessible for anyone caring for a veteran with PTSD. She is also speaking about the current political situation surrounding services for veterans and their caregivers. The two days spent in Prince Albert went well, Migneault said.
“I was amazed by how welcoming people were, but also amazed by hearing fellow caregivers talk about their challenges,” she said.
For many, hearing these people talk about their challenges helps them to realize they’re not alone.
She said there is support out there, but “the biggest support needs to come from the government.”
While the ruling Liberals campaigned on better services for veterans, Migneault said, so far, it’s been all talk and no action. She said politicians in Ottawa are dismissive of veterans PTSD.
“They are and they have been for the longest time,” she said.
“It’s time to show they understand, because people are committing suicide and families are fading away because they don’t know how to deal with this. We need the support, we need the recognition. This is what veterans deserve at least — the gratitude of this country for the service they gave us and for the price they had to pay.”
According to Migneault, the Caregiver Recognition Benefit is an example of how the government hasn’t listened to veterans with PTSD and their families.
“The criteria are good for those who are physically wounded … but they don’t recognize the nature of wounds related to PTSD and anxiety.”
According to a statement provided by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, a veteran may qualify for the $1,000 per month benefit if they have a Disability Award and:
- require ongoing care to the extent that they need daily physical assistance, daily supervision or ongoing direction and supervision during the performance of at least four of their activities of daily living (feeding, washing, dressing, grooming, using the washroom, taking medication, mobility)
- has an informal caregiver who provides and/or coordinates their care
- the need for care is ongoing
- the informal caregiver is not paid and
- the veteran is not a permanent resident of a long-term care facility
Additionally, the Ministry said it provides 11 operational stress injury clinics across the country, a network of 4,000 mental health professionals and a 24-hour toll-free help line for military and RCMP released members and their families.
“We are committed to ensuring that each and every time a veteran comes forward with a mental health concern they receive the support they need,” the department said.
But according to Migneault, the Veterans Affairs Family Advisory Committee, of which she is a member, recommended the new benefit be accessible for those caring for veterans with PTSD.
She said the government decided against following through with that recommendation.
“They went against our recommendation when it comes to the benefit,” she said.
“Yes, there’s a will to listen, but there seems to be no will to understand and make sense of it.”