The increase in suicides among members of the Canadian Forces, the shocking wait times that soldiers must endure to get counselling and help for their PTSD or other mental issues, Veteran lawsuits, and the lump sum of $1.13 billion of unspent Veteran affairs money that the government is hoarding have been top stories and national headlines all over Canada in the last several months.
These issues have resulted in furious Veterans, soldiers, and military families across Canada.
One would think that if a man or a woman were physically or mentally injured while defending the interests of their country, his/her government would provide the proper resources and quick handling of that specific situation.
Unfortunately Veteran Affairs Canada has been a poor representation of how to treat the soldiers that fight and are often injured in hostile foreign lands.
But has Veteran Affairs begun taking baby steps in trying to amend the years of neglect it’s shown its troops?
On November 23 2014, Veteran Affairs minister Julian Fantino announced the government would provide approximately $200 million, plus an additional $16.7 million, every year after that to set up new operational stress injury clinics and support established mental health programs spread out in the next six years.
This seems like a half decent stepping stone. A baseline. Setting a standard. Getting the ball rolling.
Friday morning, November 28 2014, a shocking update was released: the time span over which the $200 million will actually be spread is over the next 50 years.
From a public relations point of view, when the initial announcement was given, regarding the $200 million, all of the facts should have been presented at once. The misleading information caused severe backlash from media, opposing political parties, and veterans.
The inaccurate information that was sent out was not Julian Fantino’s, and Veterans Affairs isn’t the first public relations disaster that he’s been a part of. Last year, Julian Fantino was scheduled to meet with several Veterans, including two WWII Veterans, to discuss the conservative government decision to close eight Veteran Affairs offices. Fantino arrived very late, he was very disrespectful in the meeting, and finished by walking out after he was unable to please the disgruntled Veterans.
Fantino is now being scrutinized and heavily criticised by several MPs and Veterans, who are all pushing for his recognition.
“There’s been a litany of failures, he has no credibility left and I feel strongly that Mr. Fantino should be removed,” stated Liberal MP, Joyce Murray, when the information about the 50-year time span was released.
Julian Fantino is a perfect example of how not to act in public relations. His habit of producing inaccurate and misleading information, showing up late for important meetings, and his unprofessional attitude towards sensitive topics are severe red flags of his inability to portray a professional image.