Military widow seeks help with medical bills four years after husband’s death
Published Tuesday, January 19, 2016 7:29PM AST
A military widow in Beaver Bank, N.S., says she will be forced to sell her home if Veterans’ Affairs doesn't compensate her for the tens of thousands of dollars she spent trying to save her husband's life.
Wayne Collins died of multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disorder that may have been linked to his time in the navy. He and his wife, Dawn Collins, spent much of their life savings seeking treatment, including a trip to Germany for stem cell therapy.
Wayne rallied for a while, but died in 2012.
After years of fighting, the couple had been promised nearly $160,000 from Veterans’ Affairs to cover Wayne's medical expenses. Nearly four years later, Dawn still hasn't seen a cheque.
The couple always believed the disease was related to his service in the navy in the mid-60s where he was a stoker in the engine room of several ships.
"Back then, they used carbon tetrachloride as a de-greaser,” said Dawn Collins. “They would shower in it and clean pipes and stuff like that with it.”
With a part-time job that only guarantees 12 hours a week, along with a mortgage and other bills, Dawn's savings are rapidly running out. She says if nothing changes, she'll have to list the house next spring.
"It's extremely unfortunate,” said former Maritime MP Peter Stoffer. “The man was exposed to a variety of chemicals during his service time.”
Stoffer, who spent years as Veterans’ Affairs critic, is optimistic the new minister will take a second look at Collins’ file.
"I have confidence in the minister,” said Stoffer. “I've spoken to him and I like his tone so far, but as you know, when the rubber hits the road, we'll see what action comes about. “
With her husband of 47 years gone, Dawn Collins says she’ll keep working and hoping she won't lose her home, as well.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Bruce Frisko.