As Remembrance Day approaches, it is important that we recognize the importance of providing services for returning veterans of Canada’s many conflicts.
The Royal Canadian Legion, first formed in 1925, plays a vital role in providing assistance and support to veterans and retired R.C.M.P personnel coast to coast.
With 1400 branches and 275,000 members, the Legion is the largest and most influential veteran’s organization in Canada. Their mandate is very simple, “improve the lives of those who served, support our communities, remember the Fallen.”
With a Legion presence in most communities in Canada, they are often the first place a veteran turns for assistance. Legions take great pride that they advocate for all veterans regardless of conflict, and they are reasonably successful in improving the care and benefits available for veterans and their families.
Services available at the Legion include: assistance in dealing with Veterans Affairs, assistance and support as a service member makes the transition to civilian life, financial assistance to veterans and their families, and mental health support and advocacy for those suffering with PTSD.
The Legion is particularly proud of their “Leave The Streets Behind” initiative that is making inroads into dealing with the very important issue of veterans’ homelessness.
The Legion also has a working arrangement with the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League to assist Allied veterans and their widows or widowers obtain financial assistance and support after they have moved to Canada. Many Canadians would be surprised by the number of former British service personnel who populate Legion membership rolls at their local Legion.
Legion services and programming are largely offset by membership dues, and the money raised by the Poppy Trust Fund. There are very few Canadians who have not worn a poppy at some time in their lives and proceeds from those poppy sales are placed in trust to be used for the care and benevolent support of veterans and their dependants.
As the Legion looks to the future, they are hopeful to make stronger connections with the Iraq-Afghanistan war veterans who are often cool to Legion involvement. As many Legions age and rely more and more upon associate members who are often the children or relatives of former service personnel, this group of thirty something veterans could be the bedrock that the organization can build upon allowing Legions to continue to provide their vital services and keep their doors open for the foreseeable future.