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
8 thoughts on “Revamping the Legion”
Well stated. While Legion Services Officers do good work connecting veterans to the programs available through their offices, there is a lot of work to be done to transition the Legion banches into places that many newer veterans want to be part of. This needs to be part of an institutional approach to change, not merely returned as a challenge to veterans to join and try to change each indiidual branch from within.
How the Legion Halls are Failing Todays Veterans
You have wonderful ideas. If you wish to see any of them implemented you shold become a member. The bar stewart is not the one to give you accurate information.The organization itself has a great basic set of rules. In the past few years protocal is being lost because of the ageing members.We need you to join and bring us back to what we were intended to do.If you read the Legion magazine you will learn a lot and if you read the Dominion Command annual reports you will also see where the funds are distributed.Just remember we cannot help you if we do not see you.
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You are correct in your assessment in part. Sometimes the bartenders are not thd best advocates for us. They w,ill leave out the skills training programs we have with BCIT her in BC, the VVeterans transition program fot PTSD, etc. They may not tell you of the websites, the, wireless internet. Etc. They may not tell you that you are correct that we need to improve our sports programs speakers and all that you mention. What you need to know that all this is welcome news. What I would like to know. Are you interested in joining . Because it is only with people with new innovative ideas and energy we can move forward. Our legions urgently need you and welcome you. We also need you to be gentle with us as much of the work is being done by VOLUNTEERS we are a tney minority in every branch and need help and support. Come to your local branch join and participate.
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I joined the Legion about ? Two weeks ago and am waiting for my membership card. This time round was pure recce
Can you guarantee that if younger vets were to join, our voice would be heard? Because we have been screaming that the Nvc and lump sum buy outs were not fair, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the legion told the vac review committee that the lump sum was a good idea , so please explain why we would pay dues and join a group that won’t fight for us?
Because the Legion operates as the closest thing to a union that veterans have.
I keep reading these posts that the Legion is failing the younger Veterans, I believe that the younger Veterans are failing the legion. These serving and retired members of the Canadian Forces do not join the Legion, they sit on their hands and complain that the Legion is not doing enough for them. The solution is get involved, join the Legion, tell the membership what changes are needed. Move the issues up the chain of command and get the full weight of the Legion behind these issues. The membership of the Legion are doing the best that they can trying to address issues concerning the “younger veterans” but if they do not have the input from these guys and gals then it is difficult to to know what issues to address, and lobby for change. If only 1/2 of the current serving members, and retired members of the Forces joined the Royal Canadian Legion the Ordinary members would soon outnumber the associate and affiliate members of the Legion. So get off your hands, become a member, get involved. (end of rant)lj
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