Last week I forayed into the local Legion for my second visit. It was nice; I felt more or less accepted and enjoyed the time there – though certainly the rum and cokes I had helped with that – though I did have a brief scare when one of the usual gang — apparently a former undercover police officer — said something to the effect of “hey, I know you, you were into some stuff a couple of years ago”. Evidently he was referring to charity work.
When I got there, the first thing I did was introduce myself to the bartender as he was curious, and I explained the whole Jamie & Rene story. Then I asked what programs might be available through the Legion, like sports or anything like that? Nope. Apparently, what they do pretty much is play card games, though there are occasionally community type events held there (like in May, there’s supposed to be a Midnight Sock Hop to raise funds for a community group, but I think they’re renting the hall?)
On the way home, I was reading an article about how the Legion is failing it’s younger veterans in it’s current model, and failing to advocate for them. Now… my experience with the Legion is pretty limited, having only been there twice. And I am aware that the Legion experience varies from location to location. But I am also relatively sure that there should be more to an organization which is intended to support and advocate for veterans than cheap liquor and a hospitable atmosphere to escape into where people can share old memories.
In this vein of thought. It strikes me that in order to fully incorporate the younger generation of veterans into the Legion and to appropriately help with the transition from military to civilian life while addressing modern psychosocial issues, the Legion could:
– move towards a more technologically connected model
– provide financial education classes
– introduce classes and workshops into the programming (gardening, cooking, tai chi, sewing, etc) which would both foster a sense of community and lessen the feeling of disconnect with society and help with overcoming learned helplessness created through the CoC military experience, as well as create new favourable memories.
– incoporporate sports programming
– provide psychosocial support numbers like the suicide hotline; community support services, etc. to all members or have them prominently displayed on the walls.
– encourage talent development through talent shows, acting classes, etc.
– link up to community resources such as volunteer networks
– have career fairs
– bring in motivational speakers
– liason between community mental health support services