Military scraps discharge notice for injured Afghan veteran
The Canadian Forces has reversed its decision to discharge a Canadian soldier who testified about his struggle for health benefits and his long recovery from injuries suffered in the Afghanistan war.
Vancouver-native Cpl. Glen Kirkland, who almost died while serving in Afghanistan five years ago when he was attacked by the Taliban, was informed by the military he could stay in the army until he qualifies for a 10-year indexed pension.
According to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces, if a CF member is released from duty because of a disability, they are entitled to an unreduced pension if they have accumulated 10 year of pensionable service.
The military's decision comes a day after Kirkland was notified he was going to be discharged in six months -- despite assurances from Defence Minister Peter MacKay in the House of Commons that he would not suffer “ramifications” for speaking out.
"I never asked to be discharged," the 29-year-old told CTV News earlier this week. "My intention was to get a 10-year indexed pension. Not just for myself, but for other soldiers, so they can have that consistent income."
Last week, Kirkland said he feared retribution from senior officers if he spoke out. The 29-year-old, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, said he was ordered by the military not to testify.
Kirkland said he was compelled to disobey. MacKay called the 29-year-old a hero and said the soldier would not face any consequences.
Kirkland, a fourth-generation soldier, was involved in a rocket attack that killed three of the five people travelling in his vehicle in the Zhari district of Afghanistan. The 29-year-old suffered serious injuries, including the loss of 75 per cent of his hearing, the loss of some sight and a brain injury.
Tuesday’s decision comes after Mackay called Vice-Chief of Defence Staff Bruce Donaldson late Monday night and ordered him to reverse the military's decision to discharge Kirkland.
The outcome of that call was revealed on Tuesday when NDP MP Peter Stoffer asked MacKay in the House of Commons if he was going to follow through on his promise that Kirkland would not suffer any ramifications for testifying about his experience as an injured veteran.
"On behalf of Cpl. Glen Kirkland, will the minister honour his commitment and allow him to stay in the military until 2015? Yes or no?" Stoffer asked.
Mackay answered: "Yes."
With a report by CTV's Richard Madan in Ottawa