Outrage at legion action


joan-beznoski-1I had a blog ready for today, but after reading this article I knew I had to share it. Wow!! it sure qualifies what I have been saying for years, in fact makes my protests seem a wee bit weak by comparison to what Joan encountered. Its time legion veterans took the legion back.

Joan Beznoski is your typical member of the Royal Canadian Legion.

Her two brothers and her husband fought in the Korean War. Her dad fought in the Second World War.

The 82-year-old has been at the same legion branch for 36 years in Lac du Bonnet, Man., just north of Winnipeg.

She had served as secretary of the branch and has devoted countless hours to volunteer work there.

But now she has been suspended from the legion.

Her transgression?

To phone the main legion office in Ottawa to try to talk to dominion president Tom Eagles to voice her dissatisfaction about how the country’s largest veterans’ organization is treating former soldiers.

Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall/File

Sgt Ronald Duchesne, Rideau Hall/FileLegion Dominion President Tom Eagles

She never did get to talk to Eagles. But the suspension came swiftly after she tried.

“The legion is losing members because of how people are being treated and how the (legion) is operating,” Beznoski explained in an interview. “It’s time someone did something about it.”

She is not alone in that thinking.

As some 1,500 delegates gather in St. John’s this weekend for the legion’s convention, concerns are being raised about questionable practices in the organization, its Dominion Command headquarters in Ottawa, and financial accountability for the millions of dollars it receives from the public from the sale of poppies.

Some legion members had hoped to use the convention to force Dominion Command, the legion’s administrative organization, to reveal details about executives paid more than $100,000 a year. Those members also want to find out about the cost of travel and expenses for executives, and their spouses and families.

That effort has been shot down. Legion executives say the privacy of executives would be violated by such disclosure.

Veterans have also questioned why Eagles, accompanied by his wife, flew to the Caribbean in the winter of 2015 to present a cheque to a Commonwealth veterans’ organization. Others have asked for details about how much it cost to send Eagles and the dominion secretary Brad White, reportedly with their spouses, to a number of conferences recently in the United Kingdom.

Another veteran from a low-income family has questioned why Eagles’ two sons received two of four legion bursaries offered at one branch, when her children were denied.

Legion spokesman Bruce Poulin acknowledged the questions.

“These are all questions regarding internal operations of the Legion,” he noted in an email. “As per the Legion’s General By-Laws, the avenue for members to raise queries or effect change is through the Legion’s chain of command and the resolution process.”

But that doesn’t appear like it is going to happen in some cases.

Lorne Tyson, a member from Winnipeg who has been advocating for Dominion Command to reveal salaries and travel expenses of executives, has been informed the matter cannot be discussed or even raised in St. John’s.

“Instead of transparency, we have more secrecy, and instead of accountability, we are told that there will be no accountability,” Tyson wrote earlier this year to Jack Frost, chairman of the legion’s Dominion Command.

In a previous interview, Steven Clark, director of administration for Dominion Command, insisted expenses are strictly controlled.

They’ve kicked out a long-time member for what — trying to phone the president to talk about mistreatment of veterans. What does that tell you about the legion?

Other veterans have raised concerns about the value of some of the services the legion provides.

The organization has created a new Operation Stress Injury Special Section for those with PTSD and related injuries. The special section does not actually provide health care, but will direct veterans to already available services. The legion is charging a $10 administrative fee for those who want the service. The legion declined to explain why veterans suffering from PTSD are required to pay the fee .

In addition, Craig Hood, whose nomination as interim first vice president for the section is expected to be approved at the convention, has denounced on the National Post website a veteran’s advocate who suffers from PTSD, as well as another injured veteran. He labelled them “as morons.”

Hood’s Facebook page also includes a posting from another individual about those same veterans, who have criticized legion practices, labelling them as “f…tards and losers.”

Hood did not comment. Dominion Command acknowledged it is aware of Hood’s comments about fellow veterans but declined to denounce them.

Supporters of the legion say the organization, with 300,000 members, still does good work. But its membership is dwindling and many of its current members are no longer veterans.

Allan McArthur, a veteran who is trying to help the suspended Beznoski, said she was right to try to raise concerns about the problems within her branch.

Beznoski was suspended after White, the dominion secretary, wrote to legion executives in Manitoba.

In a letter obtained by the Ottawa Citizen, White pointed out Beznoski wanted Dominion Command to conduct an investigation into ongoing problems in the Lac du Bonnet branch, including allegations of bullying and disrespectful behaviour against veterans.

White, however, noted he had no intention of looking into those allegations.

An official with the legion in Lac du Bonnet said Beznoski’s suspension was being dealt with and no further information would be released.

But McArthur said the treatment of the 82-year-old is symptomatic of larger problems. Those issues range from ignoring veterans’ issues to questions about how money raised from the sale of poppies is spent, he noted.

“They’ve kicked out a long-time member for what — trying to phone the president to talk about mistreatment of veterans,” McArthur said. “What does that tell you about the legion?”

God Bless and keep reading

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About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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32 Responses to Outrage at legion action

  1. baconburner says:

    Check out how many posts have been sent to Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/CanadianLegion/?ref=br_rs

  2. Ray says:

    The legion has become irrelevant, it is no longer representing the rights of vets, it has became nothing more than a place to drink. Our vets deserve better, they deserve representation, they deserve help? They deserve more than a watering hole for the offspring (very few of which have never even touched a gun let alone served this nation) of our heroes to go for cheap beer! In most towns the legion is akin to the neighbour hood dive bar, our vets need help with PTSD, education, employment and reentering civilian life, our vets need an organization that understands then and can lobby the government and an organization that commands respect! What they have today sure the hells isn’t that!

  3. Legion headquarters should be located in Roblin, Manitoba. It seems that anything located in Ottawa becomes self centered, pompous and entitled to their entitlements….like government. At least in a place like Roblin the hierarchy would be well grounded like the common folks.

  4. You have to be kidding . Join a Legion , Pay dues every year. Work your ass off to generate funds for Veterans needs ., Sit back and watch the Liberal Gov’t shit all over Veterans and provide the immigrant Muslims with 1 st. class housing ,(Hotel rooms in Toronto) provide dental , full medical care , and give them a $10,000.oo forgivable credit card . The Liberals are what is wrong with this country . The Legion is being run the same way,…with executives taking their entitlements. . After 30 or so years working for the Legion , I have had enough . Donate directly to a Vet. The Legion carries too much overhead,…. Do like the rest of the Canadians and the Liberals do ,…play all concerned for Veterans around Nov. 11 th for parades ,…. then do jack-shit for the veterans the rest of the year as you pander and look after Muslims and Liberal issues with tons of money . Nothing for the Vets however. They have to fight tooth and nail for anything .

    • irishroverpei says:

      Hmm Vaughn! not sure how to respond, you are clearly angry with the Legion, As for the Liberals not sure they are any worse the Harper’s Conservatives. However, you really should vent your frustration with Dominion Command. Email bruce.poulin@legion.ca

    • Gary says:

      I totally agree with your comment but I must also add that living in a large city, I frequently see homeless veterans live amongst garbage and left without any help at all: food, medication or even a safe place to sleep. How is that a way to treat our veterans? Apparently muslim migrants (I’m not calling them refugees because they are not) are more important than our own. I’m just sick and tired of Libtards.

      • irishroverpei says:

        Hi Gary I live in a small village on PEI so do not see the dreadful things you see. Why can the legion not see this too and then do something about it.

  5. Kyley Parker says:

    I am a 29 year old Afgan vet. I served as a Leopard tank driver with the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (RC). I released a few years ago and moved back home to Portage La Prairie. I joined the legion, because I missed having army buddies to talk to. Shortly after we lost Cpl Cirillo there was a call out on a Facebook page for Canadian Vets to stand guard at their local Cenotaphs. It was a Friday afternoon so I decided to head to the legion after work for a beer and to see if anyone would join me the next day at the Cenotaph. I work construction now, and was wearing a high vis safety shirt. There was a member working the door for the meat draw, and when I tried to enter he stopped me and asked if I could change my clothes, or just have a quick beer and leave before the meat draw started. I was taken back by this, but I didn’t argue. I came back with different clothes on and politely asked the gentleman if it was an actual rule passed by the board that high vis work clothes were not allowed in the legion? He said no, but “certain” members didn’t like them. I than politely explained to him that I was in fact a member, I served with the Strathcona’s and served in Afghanistan. This didn’t matter to him, he went on to tell me that he had been a member of the legion for over 20 years and they just didn’t like those type of clothes in the legion. If this had been an actual rule, I would not have questioned it, but it wasn’t. And the attitude this guy had with me really floored me. I left and never went back. The legion was founded for young men that returned home after serving their country. I wanted to go to MY legion for a beer after a hard days work and was not met with the kind of welcome I expected. I have spoke to other young vets and I am hearing similar stories. It seems that some people think of the legion as their own personal social club, and they don’t like change or new people spending time there. I tried to invite a few of my friends to the legion before this happend and we were made to feel very uncomfortable by the “regulars” because we were having a few beers and having a good time, by no means out of hand, but they made it clear we weren’t welcome. The legion always seems to be reporting that membership is down, but when I tried to support it I felt like an intruder. If they don’t want young vets showing up who invite a few friends in on a cold winter afternoon for beer and pool, who do they expect to be there in the next couple of decades?

    • chris barr says:

      I’m ticked off to hear a fellow strachcona
      being treated that way but it doesn’t surprise me, many years ago I came back from a tour in Cyprus and was having a few beers with y dad in the legion branch in Duncan BC and was asked to leave because I was wearing jeans and I vowed never to join the legion now I live in Ireland and joined the Royal British legion and I have to say they got their heads on straight all the top table are ex military and not a greasy civie in sight

      • irishroverpei says:

        Hi Chris I’m from Ireland hence the name irishrovers blog!! It is sad that the RCL can’t take a leaf out of the British Legions book.

  6. A R Turner says:

    I have been a Legion Member for 52yrs.The way they treated that Lady was disgraceful.I personally have a bad taste about how the legion. Is been taken over by the likes of Eagles.As a member we should have the right to question HQ and get a better response that that is private,fire him and hire someone who will disclose their salary. It should be in the treasures report available for members.If they refuse it;s because they are hiding some thing. The Legion has turned into a sham just bureaucracy at its ugliest.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Hi Mr Turner I agree whole heartily with you, Eagles was one of the worse Dominion President ever. So far nothing has changed we have a new pres Dave Flannigan, but the whole dominion group are a click and they stick together. Send a copy of this email to them The email address is bruce.poulin@legion.ca

  7. Leland Lewis says:

    Since the Legion is a non-profit, do they not have to provide members access to the books as well as a full financial report every year by law? That has been a legal requirement for any non-profit I have been involved with.

  8. Ian Gallacher says:

    Disgusting. Another example of a lack of accountability, power and control issues and those who feel they are entitled to privledge. “How dare someone asking for legitimate answers to reasonable questions.

  9. Michael says:

    The same problem seems to be everywhere it’s at my legion as well they don’t like to take note that we still have veterans me being one of them the disrespect that I receive from other members who never put on the greens is unbelievable they need to realize that the men and woman of today are also veterans when we join the CAF we singed a blank check to serve our country this is why a lot of us refuse to join any legion is because of the disrespect that we get I haven’t been in my legion since feb of this year I don’t feel welcomed this is a huge problem and has to stop being pushed under the rug

  10. James Parsons says:

    May I suggest you change the sentence “But its membership is dwindling and many of its current members are no longer veterans.” to “But its membership is dwindling and many of its current members and executives are not veterans and have never served in the Canadian Armed Forces.”

  11. Al Ferrie says:

    I pay my dues each year but each year I see them increase. I don’t go there much even though its just down the street. I pay the dues because I feel it helps out some of the more unfortunate veterans. I may rethink that since it appears the hierarchy are in it more for themselves than for the purpose of helping vets.

    • irishroverpei says:

      I feel the same especially when I hear Tom Eagles is touring the Caribbean and the UK representing the legion?

      • Douglas G.P.McCarty says:

        I know Tom Eagles.He is from my home town of Plaster Rock, N.B.When he was president it went to his head…. Only vets should have jobs with the RCL .Civilians should never have positions of power in Legion, just volunteer work.

      • irishroverpei says:

        Totally agree Douglas, my own impression of Eagles was one of entitlement At Dominion and even at home in Plaster Rock, re-the two bursary’s his sons received

  12. Wayne says:

    I was the only Ordinary Member at my Legion , but had next to know input because the ones running it were all Associate members , who controlled everything, most from the same families , if you didn’t like the way they ran things , to bad so sad, don’t let the door kick you on the way out, well enough said , I left.

    • irishroverpei says:

      Hi Wayne not sure where you are located, but you are quite correct most branches are run by a few members who believe they are the legion.

  13. OSI President says:

    The Legion uploaded a Letter to the Postmedia Editor: Royal Canadian Legion fed up with misrepresentation by media. In addition to the Letter to the Editor and linking from that document, we published a full disclosure article on our website with facts addressing the misinformation.

    The links for the subject Letter to the Editor and associated FACTS document are listed below in English. French will follow as soon as possible. Please do take the time to read this media product and share with your branches, members, family, friends and colleagues.

    http://www.legion.ca/article/letter-to-the-editor/

    http://www.legion.ca/article/royal-canadian-legion-fed-up-with-misrepresentation-by-media/

  14. My reply is easy and simple. I have been an ordinary member of the Legion for 26 years and with the information disclosed in these posts I refuse to be any part of it. If civilians want to run the Legion into the ground they will be doing it without my support. The refusal to not disclose the disbursement of funds, wages, expense accounts, vacationing all over the world with wives and families in tow and getting preferences for bursaries, miss use of Poppy Funds for sports meet is the straw that broke this old camels back. “I QUIT” My small contributions have ended . I no longer wish to belong to what was once a proud, legitimate organization which has lowered their moral obligations to the Veteran to the low level they have achieved. Sad, sad times. I personally will always REMEMBER and NEVER FORGET.

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  17. Richard Hamilton says:

    The Canadian Legion has been good to our small town of Brighton Ontario. They have helped so many causes in the past from sponsoring hockey teams, scholarships to High School Graduates, helping the local library, a new cenotaph, a hall for community gatherings and weddings, and a place for veterans and their friends and families to meet, have a cold one, play darts, cards, billiards etc.

    It is the small % of self serving ( what can I get out of it } people who get up through the political side of the Legion who are the problem. Seek them out, get rid of them and the Legion will be fine again. Like in humans, sometimes cancer can be removed.

    Also open your books to members. What do you have that must be kept so secret?

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