Veteran with cancer battles Ottawa for pension

Kingston man exposed to uranium while serving in Yugoslavia in 1996
Wed, Mar 2 - 4:54 AM

Steven Dornan served two terms in Bosnia while in the Canadian military, but is now fighting a different kind of battle on two fronts.

Dornan, 45, is battling cancer that doctors say resulted from exposure to uranium while he served as a weapons inspector in the former war-torn Yugoslavia in 1996.

The Kingston, Kings County, resident is also battling with Veterans Affairs Canada for a pension that he and veterans groups say he is entitled to because of his illness.

"It’s just atrocious," Dornan said in an interview Tuesday as his wife, Roseann, entered the second day of a sit-in at the Wilmot, Annapolis County, office of West Nova MP Greg Kerr.

Kerr, a Progressive Conservative, serves as a parliamentary secretary to Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn.

Dornan, a 25-year veteran of the Canadian Forces, said he has been fighting Veterans Affairs for the past nine years for a full pension for his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which doctors say was caused or aggravated by his exposure to toxic chemicals inhaled during his service in Bosnia. Doctors say Dornan’s disease is a chronic lymphatic cancer that will eventually claim his life. He was given 15 years to live from the time of his initial diagnosis in 2002.

Dornan, who also served in Afghanistan in 2002 while undergoing cancer treatment, is being treated with drugs and chemotherapy. But doctors say the treatments will eventually stop working.

But the Veterans Affairs Review and Appeal Board has repeatedly denied him a disability pension, even though the Federal Court, along with five doctors and two scientists, has upheld his claim.

The review board ruled that the evidence presented by the doctors and scientists is not credible, even though the Federal Court has ruled that the board has no authority to rule on the credibility of expert witnesses.
The Chronicle Herald