For some the battle continues long after the war is over.
For Dolan Magrath, war has been waging for 15 years since he was given a medical discharge from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1997.
Now living in Trail, the 47-year-old third generation army man is trying to gain admission of wrongdoing from the military he served without question for 10 years, hoping to secure enough of a pension for his family before his ailing body — injured while serving — gives out.
Magrath is taking his 15-year fight to another battlefield this week, meeting with B.C. Southern Interior MP Alex Atamanenko in the hope he can pull strings in Ottawa and secure answers Magrath has been unable to obtain.
He’s hoping something good will come of his contact with Atamanenko, something good for the plight of all veterans fighting for compensation they rightfully have coming.
“I keep having trouble verifying what had happened to me, that’s why I have a meeting with Alex,” he said.
“I’ve been treated as a faking, malingering, hypochondriac since it happened.”
Atamanenko will be taking Magrath’s case up with the Ministry of National Defence and the Ministry of Veteran’s Affairs in the coming weeks.
“(Veterans Affairs) has been trying to cover this up for years and that’s why I have had so many health problems, because they haven’t done anything,” said Magrath.
“The story has changed over the years. I need to try and drive home the point to them now that this is how they treat their injured vets.”
For years the Department of Veterans Affairs has been reluctant to pay for Magrath’s medical treatment after he was discharged.
Not recognizing his injury while in service, Magrath now can’t get treatment for his injuries while the army contends he is in fine physical form.
Since his herniated back condition was left untreated in 1992, Magrath has had seven pensionable conditions built upon his original injury. He now wants Veteran’s Affairs to clarify his injury.
“Right now they are making up their own story about what happened,” he said.
Magrath’s troubles began when he fell asleep at his post in Cyprus while serving as a gunner reservist with the 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery on a peacekeeping mission in 1992.
He landed in jail for two weeks as a result and found himself on prisoner cleanup detail, trimming branches from the tops of palm trees.
During that time Magrath fell and injured his back. He was knocked unconscious by the fall, having to be carried away on a spine board to military hospital for two days. But the armed forces denied the severity of the injury — which has left Magrath unable to work in his 40s — and his right to a livable pension.
In 1997 Magrath’s case was under investigation by the B.C. district army headquarters, with public affairs officer Capt. Dan Thomas saying at the time his case had some merit, but that it was complicated.
For three years the army denied the event had happened before Magrath finally won the right to a $115 per moth pension. He won smaller battles over the years until he had his pension topped up to around $2,000 per month recently.
But an admission now of what took place in 1992 means Magrath won’t have to continue to fight for benefits, treatment for his health issues, and enough pension on which to live and provide for his two children.
Magrath was prepared to die in combat for his country, but he wasn’t prepared for the green wall of bureaucracy he has faced after being discharged.
“I would do another tour and serve my country again any time, but I sure as hell don’t want to put up with the same sort of (runaround) I’m receiving now,” he said. “If these injuries do shorten my life span, I want my family taken care of. I don’t mind dying for my country, just as long as they look after my family.”