Message from the Ombudsman (October 20, 2014)

Ombudsman Recognizes Four Extraordinary Members of Canada’s Defence Community

On October 16, 2014, I was proud to present the Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation to four deserving members of the Defence community.

This award is a very important one for my Office. It was named after a former Ombudsman investigator who was passionate about fairness and dedicated to finding resolution in conflict.

October 16th also happened to be International Conflict Resolution Day. I could not think of a better way to have marked the occasion than by honouring four individuals who have gone above and beyond their regular duties in seeking out positive resolutions to difficult and often complex situations.

Although this was my first formal opportunity to recognize the outstanding accomplishments of members of the Defence team, I have had the good fortune of getting out into the Defence community – to talk with Military Family Resource Centres, Integrated Personnel Support Centres, Reservists and Regular Force members, departmental civilians and military spouses – to see first-hand the tremendous work being done by and for Canada's Defence team – and of course for the country.

This tremendous work can be exemplified by the number of excellent nominations we received this year. Though it was a difficult choice, I believe that the Ombudsman’s Advisory Council chose four very worthy recipients. I am truly honoured to have been able to recognize Major Michel Chauvette, Major Heather Collins, Captain Donald Lamb and Captain Sundus Shamsi for their outstanding work.

Major Michel Chauvette

In his post as grievance analyst with the Canadian Forces Grievance Authority, Major Chauvette demonstrated his willingness to go well above the normal call of duty when a member of the Canadian Armed Forces was forced to repay an alleged overpayment as a result of retroactive changes to a compensation policy. Major Chauvette detected a possible unfairness and spent countless hours investigating the matter. Through his research, Major Chauvette discovered that other members had suffered a similar fate, and set out to right the wrong for all.  Major Chauvette’s actions were fearless and inspiring. He tirelessly dissected the Canadian Armed Forces Pay system and went head-to-head with pay policy analysts and programmers to uncover flaws in the program, eventually finding a solution that would be just and fair to all. Major Chauvette has shown relentless dedication – spending time above and beyond what was normally expected – to correct a systemic issue that was unjustly penalizing many Canadian Armed Forces members. There is no doubt that Major Chauvette will continue to demonstrate exceptional commitment to the well-being of Canada’s Defence Community throughout his career.

Major Heather Collins

As the Housing Liaison Officer for 17 Wing Winnipeg, Major Collins has consistently and selflessly dedicated herself to the betterment of Canadian Armed Forces members and their families. As an advocate for the quality of life of members in military housing, she strives to ensure that each and every problem is resolved at the lowest level. Her approach to managing an extremely difficult situation concerning a member suffering from potential mental health issues clearly demonstrated her willingness to go above and beyond the normal requirements of her position. Although this member was facing imminent and lawful eviction from his residential housing unit, Major Collins swiftly identified the critical nature of the member’s medical condition. She worked relentlessly to engage the members of the Joint Personnel Support Unit, the Canadian Forces Housing Agency, the member’s former unit and the chain of command to devise a suitable solution. Her efforts ensured that the member not only received JPSU support, but was able to vacate the residential housing unit without the added stressor of an eviction.

Captain Donald Lamb

Captain Lamb consistently strives for fairness for the members of 15th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery.  He has never backed down from a difficult situation despite the immense personal cost of time and energy. He is resourceful, has no fear of hard work, will ask the difficult questions and will try various approaches to solve problems. In his position as G1 Services, he has assumed many tasks in addition to his normal Adjutant duties. He dedicates his personal time to tutor Air Operations Centre candidates and actively participates in all Artillery-related activities, often travelling significant distances to pay respects at Artillery funerals. Captain Lamb’s dedication to the well-being of Canadian Armed Forces members is further evident in his willingness to work hand-in-hand with his members, their parents and the chain of command to resolve issues. In one such instance, Captain Lamb strived to remedy an issue related to the repatriation of an injured Afghanistan veteran. Captain Lamb reached out to the parents on behalf of the chain of command, and took the time to hear their issues and address them as effectively as possible. For these reasons and more, Captain Lamb is recognized as having an unwavering base of loyalty, integrity and fairness.

Captain Sundus Shamsi

As the Administrative Officer for two units at 14 Wing Greenwood, Captain Shamsi has demonstrated a commitment to the principles of equity and fairness in the workplace. Having sought out training in Alternate Dispute Resolution, she has helped more colleagues resolve difficult and complex problems in one year than many do in their careers. In the past year, Captain Shamsi spent a significant amount of time handling a particularly complex case between two members. She became personally involved in counselling sessions, and attempted to open communication and build trust between the individuals, all the while advising a way ahead. This level of commitment was well above the normal requirements of her position. Her maturity, finesse and calm demeanour were critical in allowing for a positive outcome in this situation. Captain Shamsi’s resourcefulness and innovative approach to problem solving has also led to a much improved 14 Wing Basic Training List. Her ability to influence, mediate and rectify unfairness lead to the development of a new plan, which was eventually adopted as the mode of operations for 14 Wing, thereby bringing positive change to the entire Wing.

Major Chauvette, Major Collins, Captain Lamb and Captain Shamsi, you should be proud of your accomplishments. Thank you for your commitment to fairness and your passion for the well-being of the Defence community.

Gary Walbourne

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