Former soldier and cancer survivor ‘pushed through the cracks’ without pension

A 27-year veteran of the Canadian military is struggling to get by after long delays in her military severance and pension. Photo from CBC
A 27-year veteran of the Canadian military is struggling to get by after long delays in her military severance and pension.

Tricia Beauchamp has survived two battles with cancer, 26 radiation treatments, a botched surgery and 27 years of military service as a traffic technician.

But according to the CBC, her current battle with Canada’s defence and veteran’s affairs departments over her long delayed military severance pay has been the most difficult and disheartening of them all.

“I felt like I was pushed through the cracks,” Beauchamp told CBC News. “I have been so stressed it’s unreal. I’m lucky I have kids that understand.”

Beauchamp’s struggle started after a bungled surgery in the military system left her unable to pass a fitness test, which lead to a medical release.

An attempt to fight the release was unsuccessful and she was also denied a civil service job on her last day in the military, CBC News reports

Beauchamp, now retired, spent the span of her military career as a traffic technician where she was tasked with getting supplies and equipment to where they were needed. She has served on deployments to Somalia, Kosovo, Haiti and Afghanistan among others.

When she was released last year, she was forced to wait for her military severance, pension and veteran’s benefits like many ex-soldiers, CBC News reports.

She’s gotten through the past few months with small support payments from her ex-spouse and virtually no income. As a result, she was evicted from her rental home outside of Ottawa.

“They (the landlord) thought I was lying about my pension and severance,” said Beauchamp, in an interview with CBC News.

She has since found another home to rent nearby with no down payment, but her struggles continued even with the help of veteran’s crisis groups like Vets Canada.

“I have my baby bonus [Canada child benefit] that came in on the 20th of every month that kept me afloat,” said Beauchamp.

But finally, right before Christmas, Beauchamp received her severance pay and pension.

Her disability and other medical benefits, however, remain in limbo.

Veterans officials informed the single mother last month that they were working on claims from last March. Since Beauchamp had to undergo further medical testing because of a requirement from Veterans Affairs, her claims didn’t get filed until last September causing extensive delays in her transition process.

“We should not be in this state. It is money that is owed to us. We worked so hard throughout our careers,” Beauchamp said.

The backlog of claims filed is nothing new and highlights a growing problem in Veteran’s affairs, one that military ombudsman Gary Walbourne has called out consistently.

“”How do you expect a mother, a veteran who has served this country, to raise children on a baby bonus cheque? That’s absolutely ludicrous,” Walbourne said.

“”This is what I have been talking about almost until I’m sick of talking about it.”

A report by CBC News last year found that there was a backlog of over 11,000 applications for veterans benefits. According to numbers released by the ombudsman’s office last year, members may also have to wait up to 36 weeks after their departure from the military to receive severance pay.

Walbourne has suggested that keep members on until their full scope of benefits are arranged and paid for.

The National Defence and Veteran’s Vffairs departments are said to be working together to implement changes to the system, but as CBC reports it could be up to three years before the fixes are made.