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This article was published 8/8/2016 (319 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
OTTAWA — The Veterans Affairs office in Brandon will be open again in a matter of months, the federal government will announce Tuesday.Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr will be in Brandon Tuesday for the fourth such announcement he's delivered since June as the Liberals make good on an election pledge to reopen all nine veterans affairs offices closed in 2014 by the former government in a move to reduce spending.
"It's great," said Martin Haller, who served in the Canadian Forces in Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan. "It's time. We were right."
Haller was among the most vocal veterans fighting the Brandon closure, organizing local protests and travelling to Ottawa. The office is expected to be located in the same place it was before it closed in January 2014.
The federal government announced in its March budget it would spend $5.6 billion over six years to enhance services to veterans, including reopening the offices and improving disability awards for wounded soldiers.
Haller said since the closure veterans have struggled to access services and get help navigating a complex system for disability support. The Brandon office served about 2,000 clients with five full-time staff.
Veterans have had to travel to Shilo or Winnipeg since then.
"It's caused a lot of headaches," Haller said. "You have to wait longer for an in-house visit because they have to come from Winnipeg."He said phone calls from the office to check in on veterans simply stopped.
The office in Corner Brook, Nfld., reopened last month. Offices in Sydney, N.S., and Charlottetown, P.E.I. will reopen in November. Additional offices will reopen in Windsor, Ont., Thunder Bay, Saskatoon, Prince George, B.C. and Kelowna. A new office is also set to open in Surrey, B.C.
Veterans Affairs is hiring 400 new staff to help, and are limiting case managers to a maximum of 25 veterans at a time.