Top News

LETTER: A veteran's response

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1, Charlottetown
Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1, Charlottetown - Google Map image

The image the legion is attempting to create is misleading (Ottawa must help Royal Canadian Legion, Sept. 5). It is designed to give the impression the legion is the heart of the community. It suggests the locals flock to the branches on Friday and Saturday nights for some good old rock n roll dancing. Old veterans sitting and tell stories while sipping a glass of rum and coke.

However, the picture the legion is trying to portray, simply doesn’t happen. Perhaps it was the case 30 or 40 years ago, but not today. Indeed, the two main P.E.I. city legions operate in basements where I doubt dancing is even possible. My impression of the legion is they have become local watering holes. Once a member sat at the entrance and only members and their guests were admitted. Now, any one can walk in and be served, but few if any veterans will be found there.

They are filled with lotto machines and an ATM to keep the cash flowing. The majority of local legions are operated by civilians who have created their own medal award system. They appear as veterans to the unsuspecting public, yet most have never served a day in the military. Stolen valour is also prevalent in some branches, civilian members wearing medals they are not entitled to and posing as real veterans. Also there have been many questions raised about the misuse of the poppy fund. The fund is intended strictly for veterans or members of their families.

The commercialization of the poppy is completely unacceptable. Yet the legion sells a variety of poppy-embossed trinkets, earrings, bird feeders, legion lager, umbrellas just to name a few. I doubt our old veterans ever imagined such a thing could happen to the sacred poppy.

Today’s local legion branches depend on alcohol and lotto machine for their income. The legion membership has plummeted in recent years. At the beginning of the 21st century membership topped 600,000. It now stands at approximately 200,000 and only a small percentage are veterans. Those stats alone should give one pause to question why the legion should receive help from taxpayers. Don’t be fooled into thinking the low numbers are due to the loss of aging veterans. There are today as many veterans as at the end of the Second World War.

To sum up, I’m a veteran and was a legion member for 27 years, cancelling my membership in January 2016.


F. Ben Rodgers,
Abram-Village

RELATED:

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories