New Veterans Not Joining the Legions

peteawawa1297870270591_ORIGINALlegion_committee_20140306The story attached is not unusual rare or uncommon, in fact it is happening all across this great Nation. The Legion Command is failing badly to address the problems and consequently no new veterans are joining. The question is,  how long before the Royal Canadian Legion becomes strictly a civilian organization. It is surely well on its way to that end. Dominion Command post inflated and hopeful membership numbers. They claim some 300,000 members a third of which are veterans. However, a more realistic total of membership is approximately 240,000 of which 35000 are actual veterans. I guess we have to err somewhere in the middle because no one knows for sure, and numbers are changing on a daily basis. The one accurate fact is that membership is plummeting at an alarming rate. Another startling fact,  Dominion Command appear incapable of changing this situation. They ignore repeated requests from veterans, they are arrogant and ignore the issues, their only answer to date, is to offer a one year free membership. That is a bit like Costco offering free membership to drum up new business. To do the same with Legion Membership greatly diminishes the value of our membership.

Read the article attached

While he remains optimistic about the future of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517, Russ Murphy is concerned that their ranks of aging veterans are not being replaced by the current generation.

Considering the branch sits near the entrance to the largest military base in the country, one would think the Petawawa legion would have a strong showing from today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen. However, that has not been the case according to the 83-year-old Petawawa resident.

“We need young blood in there,” said Murphy, who conceded the branch is struggling and could do with a large infusion of new members. “I’ve worked hard to keep this legion alive and I don’t want to see it die.”

Formed in 1926, the Royal Canadian Legion is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization with more than 300,000 members in over 1,400 branches across. It plays a major role in advocacy and education. Their annual poppy campaign raised $16.5 million to support veterans and their families in 2014 through the sale of 19 million poppies. It also supports the The National Memorial Silver Cross Mother, the National Memorial Ride and the Pilgrimage of Remembrance. Legion membership also supports essential services within our communities, including seniors support services, housing and care for the elderly, drop-in centres, Cadets, youth and sport programs.

The Petawawa branch reached a peak of 600 members on a few years ago, contended Murphy. Today, their membership is closer to 300. The legion lost its last Second World War veteran last year with the passing of Cliff McConnell. Murphy is one of the few Korean veterans left in the branch.

“I’ve lost a lot of good friends and a lot of good Legion members,” he said. “It breaks my heart. The community doesn’t realize the necessity of this building and that Royal Canadian Legion Branch 517 remain here.”

Murphy became a member of the Legion in 1965 after returning from a year-long tour in Egypt. He has served on the executive as a publicity chairman and service officer. His late wife, Helen, served multiple terms as president of the Ladies Auxiliary.

The branch has a lot going for it right now, he added. In 2014, it unveiled a new war memorial that has become a major attraction on the grounds of the legion. The branch building also has a new roof. Where it struggles is in attracting new members. Murphy said he can’t explain why this current generation is not drawn to the legion. While he did raise the issue years ago with former 2 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group commander Dean Milner, Murphy said the commanding officers and regimental sergeant majors on Garrison Petawawa should be making a pitch to their troops.

“They can’t order soldiers to join but they should encourage them,” he said.

To become a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, you must be 18 years of age or older and be a citizen of Canada, or a Commonwealth or NATO/wartime allied country. There are four types of membership – ordinary, associate, affiliate voting, and affiliate non-voting.

God Bless and keep reading

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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2 Responses to New Veterans Not Joining the Legions

  1. Ira Peters says:

    We were not wanted or welcomed as members after the Korean Veteran so most of the Peace Time Soldiers did not join. As for the Military, it would help if they were given the option to either join the Mess or a Legion instead of being forced to just join the Mess.It would also help greatly if the Legion President or Provincial Presidents took the time to go around to Military Parades and have a chat to the troops after or before the CO’s Parade. Many things could have been done but instead it was just handed over to the civilians. That is why there are more than 40 Veterans Organisations rather than just the Legion.

  2. Tony Miles says:

    The way I see it, and as a member of many face book pages of veterans and current serving members all over North America and the UK, I notice that almost all of them are organising their own mini reunions, sometimes twice a year. In ‘olden days’ the various Legions in the various towns were places to get together, have a pint and chat about old times, and old wars. Modern media has taken place of this, and consequently the Legion suffers. Members of the armed forces can now keep in touch from where ever they decide to settle in the world, immediately by Skype, Facebook, or the slightly slower method of E-mail. I personally keep in touch with pals from my Navy days in Spain, Portugal, Malta, New Zealand, Hong Kong Thailand,Philippines and of course Britain, the USA and Canada. Even the nicest Legions are suffering, I visit one in a small town near Toronto. It is very welcoming (I am 72 and ex Royal Navy) but unfortunately all the members are old men and women, which is not attractive to younger veterans. I am afraid you would need a miracle to get back to the 50’s and 60’s. Even the greatest pubs don’t exist as they once were, a meeting place for a pint up the local. No longer I am afraid, you have to be shown to a table for a 4 course meal. If the pub did not update itself, it was closed down. I cannot think of anything that would save the Canadian or British Legion in it’s present form. And sad to say, when our ‘ilk’ have departed these pleasant lands, there will be no Legion, but plenty of Regimental, Ships and Shore Establishment’s face book, or the like pages. Don’t believe me?? Just go onto face book and type in your ship or regiment, you will most likely get one or two pages come up. Times are a changing.

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