Imagine losing both of your legs to a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan. It would be easy to think that the situation could not possibly get any worse, but that would assume you did not have to deal with your own government when you finally made it back home. Some injured soldiers find that the fight has only begun when they return home and have to start navigating the bureaucracy of their veteran’s service agency to prove every you have missing legs.
Paul Franklin was a Master Cpl. in the Canadian military in January 2006 when the truck he was driving hit a bomb. The explosion left him a double-amputee. Adding insult to an already grievous injury, Franklin now has to fill out new forms every year to tell the Canadian government that, surprising though it may be, his missing legs are still missing.
Franklin now has a new mission. He is fighting to make sure other veterans do not have to deal with the paperwork mess that has frustrated him since his disabling injury. Franklin had talked with the former Veteran Affairs minister, but with the new federal government he has heard little. He hopes to see the system improved so that other veterans are not hindered from getting needed care.
Veterans in Canada who are filing for disability often have to apply through several different agencies and insurance companies. Franklin describes the process as being “insane.” He also questions how the government expects veterans who return from war with brain injuries or who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to deal with the paperwork process to get help.
According to one Veterans Affairs spokeswoman, Franklin may get his wish. She said the Veterans Affairs and National Defense agencies are working to simplify the paperwork. For now though, even veterans who have permanent, disabling injuries (like if their legs are missing) are still required to submit annual forms.