Veteran gets his apology

Mitch MacDonald
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Future of Fabien Melanson's hunger strike unclear

An assistant deputy minister of Veterans Affairs Canada extended a personal apology Tuesday in Charlottetown to a protesting ex-soldier on a hunger strike for the past 10 days.

A spokesperson for Fabien Melanson, a Cape Pele, N.B. resident who has been on the hunger strike in front of the VAC headquarters in Charlottetown since early June 5, said the veteran was taken into the department by senior officials Tuesday and offered a personal apology.

It’s still unclear whether Melanson accepted the apology.

It’s also unclear whether VAC offered any additional financial assistance to Melanson, who had demanded both an apology and for the department to help repair his house.

The apology came one day after Charlottetown MP Sean Casey brought the issue up in question period in Ottawa.

Casey had also posted a comment on Facebook that night regarding Melanson’s strike.

“We have a veteran who is prepared to die on the front steps of DVA. Is it too much to ask for the minister to direct someone to discuss his case?” Casey wrote.

Veterans Affairs Minister Stephen Blaney had told Casey in question period that he, and two previous VAC ministers, had already extended apologies.

But Melanson was quick to disagree.

“The apology letters were for their original mistake. They never apologized for what happened after,” said Melanson.

He said he was protesting a clerical error made by VAC in 2004, which resulted in his pension cheques being deposited into someone else’s account.

?Melanson said the mistake caused him to lose his home because he had been in the middle of home renovations at the time and was forced to cancel contractors, leaving his house with no furnace. Mould then left the house uninhabitable.

The stress of trying to correct the mistake through VAC caused Melanson’s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder to kick back in, leading to an eventual suicide attempt.

The department compensated Melanson for the missed cheques once they realized the mistake in early 2005.

A spokesperson for Melanson said the veteran hasn’t decided how to take the apology or whether the hunger strike will continue.

As of Tuesday noon, Melanson had gone more than 260 hours without eating and had lost 27 pounds.

Canadian country music star Julian Austin, a native of Sussex, N.B., has offered to help Melanson in his search of funds to repair his home if VAC refuses to offer financial compensation.

 

Organizations: Veterans Affairs Canada

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Cape Pele, Ottawa Sussex

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Recent comments

  • Steven Brace
    June 15, 2011 - 19:34

    Who is Walter G? Has he championed the cause of any veterans? Has he gotten any positive results for them? Has HE ever taken it upon his shoulders to fight for another man's injustices (a stranger's for that matter)? If anyone can enlighten us all as to who the #$% this hero is please let us all know. I'm sure there are hundreds of other vets across the country who'd love to have his genuine and effective support. "Envy shoots at others and wounds itself".... Good job guys. Congrats.

  • Rob Gallant CD "matrixx"
    June 15, 2011 - 15:59

    Personally I would have to think about it as well. We don't know the exact details of the meeting and what it all includes. Not least of all, sure put you life at risk for what is due to you just wanting attention, that really makes sense...

  • Jason Mullis
    June 15, 2011 - 14:26

    How can we let this happen in CANADA he gave us his service and the Goverment lets him lose every thing thats sad GOD BLESS HOPE U GET THE HELP U NEED!! AND HOUSE FIXED!! THANKS FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE FOR CANADA!!

  • James Brace
    June 15, 2011 - 08:49

    To Walter G - May I ask how it is exactly that you know my father? Oh, that's right you don't. Your personal attack on him, insinuating that his support of Fabien is for attention seeking, is laughable to anyone that knows him. Did you stop to think that perhaps the reason my dad is in many of the media photos and videos of Fabien's ordeal is because he took that much time out of his personal life to be physically present for moral support to Fabien? Did you consider that perhaps Fabien wanted my dad in those pictures? No, you did not. But good attempt at undermining what Fabien has accomplished here. E for effort and well done Fabien. By the way dad, Happy Birthday and I am proud of you!

  • Murray Scott
    June 15, 2011 - 08:47

    As a Veteran for 43 years with a vast understanding of how the system works, i must admit i am left confused by the action of various Veterans groups in this matter. i am glad that this Veteran is safe and perhaps he will get some help for his cause. It seems that various Veterans groups have encouraged this veteran to continue his hunger strike for their benefit, and when they do that it is a vary shameful action. We need to be very careful that we dont put a members health and safety at risk to advance our own cause. Murray Scott

  • Cindy Lapena
    June 15, 2011 - 08:22

    Kudos to MP Sean Casey for bringing up this problem in Ottawa. We really need someone who will truly represent the people. It's nice to know that MP Casey does not think the problem of one individual can go on ignored. I can't imagine how many more people are out there suffering or being extremely inconvenienced because of the ineptness of government employees.

  • Terry from Kingston,On
    June 15, 2011 - 06:52

    I have known Sandy Brace as a soldier for more than 50 years and his work amongst our veterans and those with addictions is done by him from the heart,as he has great concern for his fellow human beings. Walter G should get his facts correct before berating a good person, maybe Sandy was away at the time, maybe sick or maybe Mr Melanson wanted to got it alone until he got some results. If you have an axe to grind with Sandy ,I suggest that you do it off-line or shut up.

  • chris young
    June 15, 2011 - 00:45

    It is unbelievable that a veteran has to fight for his rights, apology or not. What exactly do the bureucrats at VAC do???? I thought they are there to help vets!!!! Where are they when they are needed???? I like to see their statement of purpose..... Chris

  • RG
    June 14, 2011 - 21:43

    So the guy gets his apology and now he's not sure if he's going to accept it? I'm starting to think this guy is maybe just looking for attention.

  • Walter G
    June 14, 2011 - 21:15

    Leave it to Sandy Brace to get his photo in the paper. Muscling into another mans problems. Leave it to thw DVA to issue an apology Where was Sandy Brace when the other Hunger Striker was outside the DVA for 3 weeks in 2009 no where in sight.