Credits: (ANDRE FORGET /QMI AGENCY)
Protests were planned for Halifax, Calgary and London, Ont., and some 50 vets took to Parliament Hill to call on the federal government not to abandon its former troops by making what they call a bad situation even worse.
Retired Master Cpl. David Desjardins, who was injured in a training exercise after serving tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan and is confined to a wheelchair, struggled with the department for four years before gaining access to his benefits.
"We shouldn't have to fight on Canadian soil," he said.
"To the general population, everything looks good. To those affected, it's life-altering. We've got veterans that are living on the streets, that are losing their families, are losing their homes. It's totally unacceptable."
The protests have also garnered some support from opposition MPs.
Veterans Affairs is planning to phase out 500 jobs from the department over five years, which the government maintains can be done through attrition and better planning.
They're also gearing up to slash more than $200 million from the budget, along with another 5% to 10% funding cut under the federal government's "strategic review" belt-tightening measures.
Codie Taylor, a spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney, said Saturday the government is committed to moving ahead with the changes at the department -- but promised veterans won't bear the brunt.
"There will be no cuts to veterans' benefits," she said.
She also maintained the government was trying to cut red tape to ensure "a more hassle-free" access to services and benefits.
Carla Murray, whose husband served in the military and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, has been fighting the department to ensure her husband gets the services he needs.
And she's backing the veterans across Canada who turned out to the protests.
"These guys are just injured vets trying to get some help," she said. "It shouldn't be more complicated than that."