A 39-year-old Canadian veteran says the federal government should seek Parliamentary approval before it commits any military personnel to deterring Russian aggression in Europe.
“What we’re seeing today with Ukraine and Russia, this is why it’s important that we have a military,” says Scott Timpa who served for 13 years with the Canadian armed forces before his medical discharge in 2015 for an ankle injury.
“If we’re going to have a military,” he adds, “we have to have a government and a public that also stands behind its military, not just in terms of support for the war, but in terms of support for injured veterans when they come home.”
The Minister of National Defence announced last month that 3,400 military personnel have been placed on standby in case they’re needed in Europe to defend NATO members against a Russian attack. That’s in addition to the 1,260 Canadians who have already been deployed there.
But, as Timpa points out, Canadian courts have ruled that the federal government has no special obligation or duty of care to military veterans and he says those who may end up fighting in Europe should know that.
“The government is not telling people that there’s no duty of care and that’s deceitful,” he says.
“I believe that the government and the people who say ‘Hey, we’re going to send our troops outside of our borders,’ should also say, ‘We’re going to pay to take care of them for the rest of their lives if they come home badly injured.'”
Timpa, who lives just outside Sackville, knows from bitter, first hand experience how hard veterans like him have had to fight to get full disability benefits from an overburdened, neglectful and uncaring Veterans Affairs bureaucracy operating within the arbitrary rule changes and financial cuts imposed by federal politicians.
“The only way I can describe my experience with Veterans Affairs — you hear it a lot in the veterans community — is delay, deny and die,” he says.
Timpa adds that over the years he’s been plagued by frequent bouts of anger and depression accompanied by suicidal thoughts brought on by the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that he was diagnosed with in 2013.
He also estimates that he has lost at least $45,000 in disability benefits that he should have received.
Timpa says his PTSD resulted from his exposures to the war in Afghanistan and gang violence in Haiti. He also served in the tense Persian Gulf.
Aside from severe headaches, he also suffers chronic neck, back and leg pain from physical injuries he sustained while serving as a infantry soldier and military police officer.
Reasons for hope
After years of fighting the bureaucracy, Timpa now has reason for hope.
He says the Veterans Ombudsman ruled recently that he’s been treated unfairly and is entitled to a full range of pension and disability benefits.
He adds the Ombudsman seems confident that Veterans Affairs will pay the benefits they owe him.
He’s also feeling better than he has in many years after a series of treatments at a medical clinic in Fredericton.
Field Trip Health offers therapy with counselling, calming music and the psychedelic drug, ketamine.
Most of the patients at the new Field Trip Health clinic are military veterans suffering from PTSD and depression.
Veterans Affairs Canada pays for the treatment that costs about $6,000.
Timpa and his partner, Michelle Melanson, say it’s as though his “ketamine journeys” have driven away the darkness and made him a new man.
In this short documentary I produced for Sackville’s campus/community station CHMA, Scott Timpa relives his psychedelic journeys.
If you click on the media player below, you’ll also hear the voices of Scott’s partner, Michelle Melanson as well as David Muise, manager of Field Trip Health in Fredericton: