Legion branches work together for the benefit of veterans, the community
WELLINGTON COUNTY – Local branches of The Royal Canadian Legion join branches across the province in celebrating Legion Week September 18-24.
With branches opening after two years of COVID-19 closures and restrictions, many are planning a more traditional Legion week with events for their members and the public.
“This is an opportunity for the Royal Canadian Legion to promote what we do and for local branches to more or less open the doors to the general public…and let people come in and see what we do,” said said Mount Forest resident Derek Moore, who earlier this year assumed the role of Ontario Command President for a three-year term.
“We want people to casually come in and see what it’s all about, talk to some people, and learn,” Moore said.
“There is so much to be proud of in the past year in Ontario,” Legion Dominion President Bruce Julian said in a message to Ontario Legion branches.
Maintaining a strong “Leave the Streets Behind” program to help veterans get off the streets, supporting veterans through the work of Legion Service Officers and other essential volunteers, strengthening local food banks, youth and elders groups and other community organizations are just a few examples of the initiatives that are taking place across the province, notes Julian.
“With a strong and growing membership of 100,000 and with the increased visibility of our work, the Ontario Branches are well positioned to become an even stronger network of support and camaraderie for our Veterans, their families and their friends,” he says.
“We have three tough years ahead of us as we begin to emerge from this COVID pandemic and things get back to pretty much normal,” Moore said in an online statement.
Moore said the provincial convention’s theme of “Working Together” is an appropriate theme for the challenges ahead.
Moore noted that Leave the Streets Behind, as well as the Legion’s service dogs, youth athletics, and poster, poem and essay programs are all “great” programs and initiatives run by the Royal Canadian Legion, and Ontario Command in particular.
“Every member of Ontario Command should be very, very proud to be part of such an incredible organization…” he said.
“Now more than ever, we need to encourage, attract and inspire others to come and join our team so that we can continue to provide these great programs for many years to come.”
Legion membership is open to those unconnected with the military. Moore notes that he is an associate member who became president of the Ontario Command.
However, Moore told the Advertiser the organization could also benefit from attracting more veterans.
“We’ve heard numbers, like 600,000 to 700,000 veterans across Canada, but only about 18% of them are actually Legion members…obviously that should be a lot more.
“We need new blood, we really need it,” he noted.
Moore said he thinks many view the Legion as a social club where alumni gather for a drink.
“It’s a place to socialize for sure,” he said.
However, he added: “It is a building, there is a room. You join, you can start any type of program, all kinds of different things,” he pointed out.
Legion Week in Ontario is celebrated during the third week of September each year, beginning on Sunday and ending on Saturday.
“Across our province and country, the Legion is a pillar of many communities,” said Ontario Premier Doug Ford in a Legion Week message.
“Citizens admire the Legionnaires for their tireless devotion to veterans and their families, and for their active support of the elderly, the young and those in need.
“I congratulate each legionnaire for their strong sense of civic duty, their spirit of volunteerism and their essential contributions to building a better province. »