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Whither the Royal Canadian Legion? Or RCL Withers?

SeanNewman

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That author needs a kick in the junk for how he worded a few things.  Just a couple:

1. Afghanistan's misbegotten adventure?  Way to assist in actually pushing more people down the path of OSIs by implying that their mission was not worthy and that their citizens do not support what they are doing.

2. "IED Dodgers" in my opinion has a very negative connotation, linked to the "Draft Dodgers" who were anything but honourable.
 

Michael OLeary

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Petamocto said:
That author needs a kick in the junk for how he worded a few things.  Just a couple:

1. Afghanistan's misbegotten adventure?  Way to assist in actually pushing more people down the path of OSIs by implying that their mission was not worthy and that their citizens do not support what they are doing.

2. "IED Dodgers" in my opinion has a very negative connotation, linked to the "Draft Dodgers" who were anything but honourable.

I suspect he was trying to link it to "D-Day Dodgers" which has a positive, if convoluted, connotation; those soldiers who "dodged D-Day" were very busy fighting the enemy, as are those who are fighting the enemy while doing their best to dodge his IEDs.

And it's a very apropos connection for Pachino Day.
 

SeanNewman

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Even "D Day Dodgers" has a negative connotation, though.

Yes the Italy, Pacific, Russia (etc) vets and some historians like us know full well that other battles were being fought in June 44, but the term is still an insult to suggest the other vets were avoiding the real fight.

It's just like me being a Bosnia Dodger for quitting the Reserves in 95.
 

Michael OLeary

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Petamocto said:
Even "D Day Dodgers" has a negative connotation, though.

That may have been the intent when it was first used, but in being adopted by the soldiers it referred to, it became a point of pride that they were the Canadians fighting in Europe long before D-day.

 

57Chevy

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D-Day Dodgers slide show video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXl_xzqIRgk

Other info and lyrics:
http://www.d-daydodgers.com/therealdodgers.htm
 

George Wallace

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I think he missed the whole point with his statement.  Fighting in Italy and not in Normandy can not be compared to Peacekeeping in Bosnia and NOT Peacekeeping/serving in the Reserves.  Two things that are not even remotely comparable.
 

ArmyRick

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Before we say peacekeeping expiriences are different than those who served in WWII, lets take a look at it. My expiriences in the Balkans was simple and straight forward. Easy cheesy for the most part with lots of PT time.

I won't mention names without permission of the individuals but I know of one officer, who was a reservist that blown up in an iltus driving over a land mine, his driver lost his legs.

I think we all know what Tess went through in '95 (being shot up several times is pretty much combat to me and I would assume rather traumatizing?). I know of another guy who had a chunk of his hand blown off.

Individual expiriences differ I guess. Think about that poster for Afghanistan with 2 pics, the one with some officers walking out of timmies and the other with grunts humping out in the AOR.

I recently became a legion member myself. For those with negative expiriences if you want to change it, join and by being a member we can start to remind the Legion why its there.

My opinion as usual, fire the rotten tomatoes at me if you don't agree.
 

George Wallace

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ArmyRick

I agree with what you said, but I see you missed my point. 

D-Day Dodgers were fighting in Italy well before they were fighting in Normandy.  There is no similarity in any way shape or form to the comparison being made of a person serving in Bosnia and  that of another person NOT serving due to their release from the Reserves.

In one case we are comparing people fighting on one front ( A ) as opposed to fighting on another front ( B ), where as the comparison was made of a recent "serving" in one theatre ( A ) as opposed to "not serving at all" ( n/a ).  There are no similarities to be made between the two.  Faulty logic.
 

SeanNewman

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My Bosnia-dodger line was not in any way meant to compare that theatre/mission to anything, so much as I was making fun of myself.

Just like half the people I "work" with are work-dodgers.
 

the 48th regulator

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Reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from Inside Toronto;

http://www.insidetoronto.com/news/local/article/857500--legion-fighting-to-hold-on-to-its-history

Legion fighting to hold on to its history

2ab7aa2546d08c6cd5188bebffd8.jpeg


Sandi Hilliard, manager of Coronation Branch 286
of the Royal Canadian Legion on Irwin Road, shows off a
photo of the original property where the current Legion
exists. The Legion is looking forward to its 75th anniversary
next year but is struggling financially.
Staff photo/JEFF HAYWARD



JEFF HAYWARD

August 6, 2010

While the great world wars fade into history, the executives of a Royal Canadian Legion branch in north Etobicoke hope the facility doesn't fade as well.

"We as a legion are in very difficult times," said Brian Johnston, entertainment chairman for Coronation Branch 286 of the Royal Canadian Legion on Irwin Road. "So many legions have lost membership."

The Irwin Road branch is looking forward to its 75th anniversary next year, a huge milestone since its humble beginnings in 1936 using the Thistledown volunteer fire hall on the same property.

But while the legion has thrived throughout the years, it is now facing struggles, said Johnston. Once with around 2,000 members, that number has dwindled to about 400, due to "natural causes" and members moving away, he said.

On top of that, they were hit with an unexpected blow to their cash flow.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario paid the branch a visit in March and shut down its regular draws for members.

"There was a daily draw and weekly draw for members, not for the public," he said. "That's the money that helped pay our bills."

The branch also cannot run its "meat rolls" or 50/50 draws, he said, adding he was told a license for six months costs $572. "(And) we can only keep two per cent (of draw proceeds) ... do the math."

Despite being a fixture on Irwin Road for almost 75 years, some residents still aren't aware the legion is there he said.

To raise its profile, the branch is hosting its first community festival "with the major objective of building and instilling a much more vibrant spirit and stronger community," he noted.

The event is set for Saturday, Aug. 21 from 9 a.m. straight through to 1 a.m. A children's carnival will be offered from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a barbecue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Tom Howell's fish fry ($12 per person) from 4 to 6 p.m. In addition, a community dance will be held with DJ entertainment from Silver Thread and live band Black Out. Admission is free.

"We wanted to let the community know we're here, we're not just a bar," said Sandi Hilliard, branch manager. "If we get one member to join that day, we've done our job."

Annual membership is $55 or $50 if bought prior to Nov. 30, said Hilliard.

"Many people have a clouded vision of the legion, they don't know all the good we do for the community," said Johnston.

Aside from charitable efforts, the legion has much to offer he said, including snooker and dart leagues, barbecues and even karaoke.

As the branch's long-time bar steward and resident entertainer Ted Geeves always makes laughter a priority.

"I get up there, I try to be Al Jolson," he said with a smile. "(The legion) is a nice place, it keeps people knowing what happens in this world, a chance to get together and have some fun."

Despite the current war in Afghanistan fresh in people's minds, membership doesn't seem to be spiking.

"The last couple of years, we've got some young people, or what I call young, in their 30s and 40s," noted Geeves.

Glancing over to a showcase full of war memorabilia, he added, "Sometimes teachers bring students here, they're in awe."

George Willson is a life member of 286, although he drives in from North York.

"There's no legion in the northwest end of North York," he said. "I've been a member here for over 30 years. This is the legion I had relatives in."

Some good news for branch 286 is that Etobicoke North MP, Dr. Kirsty Duncan, is a "huge" supporter.

"I grew up at the legion," she said. "My mother played in the legion pipe band."

Duncan added one of the reasons she ran for office is "because of what one veteran said to me. (He said) his generation didn't go to war for his own generation, he said they went for my mom's generation, for my generation ... and then he asked 'what will you and your friends do for the next generation?'"

The MP said she "will support the legion any way I can" including helping develop a fund raising strategy. She added she will also be in attendance at the Aug. 21 community festival.

 

John Nayduk

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I may be chiming in a little late for this thread but I'll put in my two cents worth anyway.  :)
I have to agree with RECCE GUY, ET AL.  My experience here in Windsor, Ontario has been much the same as many of you.  The ruling class (and even some of the employees, read bartenders) of the branches here have looked at the U.N. services medals almost with disdain.  I had a bartender once tell me that I wasn't a real vet because I only did U.N. missions.  One occasion, at a different RCL branch, happened during Remembrance Day.  We had gone to a RCL branch on the east side of town and there was a dinner going on.  I asked if I could stand by the bar, in the shadows and listen to the guest speaker talk about duty and honour.  The bartender told me that I wasn't a real vet so I couldn't stand there and listen.  Fine, I left, never to cross that threshold again.  I felt that I'd be better off joining as an associate because I have many relatives who fought during both World Wars but I felt that my service should count.
Anyone who doubts the unwelcome feeling that new vets who served Canada get at the RCL (unless you're somehow connected to a World War 2 vet), ask yourself why the Korea vets, Peacekeeping vets, Viet Nam vets, etc felt that they had to form their own associations.  In the States the VFW halls welcome all vets, re guardless of the war.  Too bad the RCL can't learn from them.
 

ArmyRick

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That is a shame. Did this bar tender have service time himself?

People have died or been killed on UN and NATO peacekeeping/Peace Support missions. Maybe not in the numbers of WW2 but still there were casualties. I guess they don't count because they were not killed in WW2 or Korea.

What an a**
 

Edward Campbell

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Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the National Post, is an article that brings together some thoughts that have been expressed in several threads here:

http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/11/10/legion-halls-close-across-country-as-membership-dwindles/
Legion halls close across country as membership dwindles

Tamsin McMahon

Nov 10, 2011

The annual Nov. 11 parade down to the cenotaph Friday will be the last Remembrance Day for the Royal Canadian Legion in Kimberley, B.C.

After years of declining enrollment and mounting costs, it shut its canteen last year. The hall was sold off in February. By September, unable to muster more than a few volunteers interested in organizing a picnic, members voted to surrender its charter.


The annual poppy fund will be put into a trust for local veterans. The wartime memorabilia that has lined the legion’s walls will be donated to a nearby heritage museum, closing the doors on an institution that had served the city’s military community since 1926.

“It’s just sad to see it get to this point,” said legion president Mike Yanosik, who for a time ran the organization out of his home to keep it alive.

“But it was just too much of a struggle to try and keep it operating. If there were more volunteers, or our members were prepared to make some commitments — and maybe if they were younger — we might have been able to keep it going. But it just got to the point where it was not cost effective and nobody wanted to do the work.”

The fate of the Kimberley branch is part of a larger crisis facing legions across Canada who are grappling with steadily declining membership as veterans of the Second World War and the Korean War die off, while younger veterans opt not to join.

At least 64 legions have closed their doors since 2006, while others have declared bankruptcy (Thunder Bay, Ont. Branch 113), collapsed under a mountain of debt (Kingston, Ont. branch 9), sold their halls (Saint John branch 53) or looked to lease portions of their buildings to stay afloat.

In January, a Vancouver legion plans to rent its social room to a hairdresser. Last year, the legion in Caledonia, Ont., handed its second floor to a dance company. The North Bay, Ont., legion tried to turn its building over to the city to house a provincial courthouse, but the offer was rejected.

Nationally, the legion command waded into the political area last month by calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to exempt Veterans Affairs from planned spending cuts.

It was a rare move for an apolitical organization that has tended to keep a low profile on policy issues. Officials said it was taking steps to reaffirm its original mission, conceived after the First World War, to advocate for veterans.

Across Canada, the organization has 326,000 members, down from the 600,000 it boasted during the 1960s. Of the 60,000 people who dropped from the list since 2006, more than half were veterans who had died.

Younger veterans say they prefer keeping in touch with fellow soldiers over Facebook and email to hanging out at legion halls.

“Out of 150 friends on Facebook, half of them are from the military,” said Marc D’Astous, a retired infantryman who served in Afghanistan and now runs an Outward Bound program for veterans in the Alberta Rockies with legion funding.

“We’re still connected. We’re just not meeting up at a building, that’s all.”

“The image most of us have of the legion is Nov. 11, and that it’s a bar and that it’s an organization for older veterans,” he added.

dmelmer_legion-012.jpg

Korean war veteran Donald Doan sits in the Windsor legion, which is trying to raise $100,000 for maintenance costs.
Dax Melmer for National Post


“It’s a tough battle for the legion to reinvent its image and say we cared then and we care now.”

It has been a challenge to lure the next generation of veterans, particularly those who fought during Canada’s decade-long mission in Afghanistan, said Dennis Holmes, president of a Windsor, Ont., branch that is trying to raise $100,000 for renovations after members narrowly voted against selling the building in August. Its membership has plunged from 2,300 a decade ago to 700 today.

Mr. Holmes said the legion tried to participate in a Canada-wide welcome home dinner for soldiers returning from Afghanistan in August, but couldn’t track down enough service members to invite.

“I don’t think most of the younger guys realize that the legion is open to them,” he said. “We’re not the old folks drinking place as we used to be.”

At issue for many younger veterans is the legion’s shift from military members toward civilian members to help recruit new volunteers. The legion has offered associate membership to veterans’ relatives for years, and in 1998 allowed the general public to join.

Of the nearly 330,000 legion members, fewer than 90,000 have served in the military. Among the 22,000 new members, just 4,700 have military experience.

dmelmer_legion-12.jpg

A crowd of cribbage players at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 255 in Windsor.
Dax Melmer for National Post


At the Kimberley legion (average age: 73), just 39 of its remaining 93 members were ex-servicemen and only three were active members of the military. The shift from a veterans’ club to a community organization largely populated by seniors is alienating many young soldiers.

“The legion is full of civilians right now, I hate to say it,” said Shaun Arntsen, a retired Afghanistan veteran, now working in the oil and gas industry near Canmore, Alta.

He went to a local legion after returning from Afghanistan, hoping to find support among his colleagues, even aging veterans of the Second World War.

“I walked into the legion and not a single person there had served in the military and here I am thinking, why do we have this place? For cheap booze, a meat draw and canasta tickets? You guys have got to get up to speed. Get a Facebook page. Get a social networking site.”

That’s essentially what the legion hopes to do, said Brad White, the legion’s dominion secretary. It is working to set up a “virtual branch,” open only to military members, that would act as a social networking site for ex-soldiers to connect with their units. It hopes to have it running by next summer.

The legion is encouraging branches to sell off their old buildings and downsize to something more sustainable, Mr. White said. It’s also started a committee to plan for the organization’s future, recognizing younger veterans want things like outdoor activities and mobile apps, not dance halls and watering holes.

“The old, sitting around a bar, I think that’s been gone for a long time now,” he said.

National Post
Email: tmcmahon@nationalpost.com


I am not a member of the Royal Canadian Legion (nor of any other veterans' organization) but I am a (paid up) associate member of the (publicly funded) Army Officers' Mess here in Ottawa and I am a (paid up) member of a couple of Regimental associations and, of course, I am an active member here, of Army.ca, which is, in its own way what Afghanistan vet Shaun Arntsen suggested the Legion needs: "a social networking site.”

I have nothing but respect for 99% of what the Legion has done for veterans and for communities but the 2 million Canadians who served from 1914 to 1953 are, for the most part, dead or dying. I well recall that we, the generation who joined in the 1950s, '60s, '70s and even later were given mixed receptions when we entered a Legion - occasionally warm and friendly, often overtly hostile ("I was there when we were needing them, not feeding them" or "We don't need to regulars here") (there was an unhealthy dislike of the pre-1939 regulars, the permanent force people, amongst many 1939-45 vets, I'm not sure why and I never bothered to ask) but, mostly, indifferent. So "we" didn't join and, as the article mentioned, the Legion became less and less military and more and more a community service club. (Anecdotally: I was travelling within Canada last year and I met an old school chum who had enjoyed a good, productive career in the reserve forces - he, like me, was long retired. He invited me to his mess (wardroom) which was very, very active - full of dues paying associate members who used it for the same purposes vets used the Legion in the 1950s and '60s: a club for men (and women) who had shared similar experiences. The wardroom's associates were, pretty much, all former regular  and reserve force members, although the subject did not come up, my impression was that this wardroom was their substitute for a Legion which did not meet their needs.)

So: wither the RCL or does it just wither and die?
 

OldSolduer

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See this link from the Winnipeg Free Press:

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/last-post-for-legions-133597368.html

It is sad to see them go, and as a so called "vet" I have never joined a Legion as I've always felt out of place amongst the heroes that frequent the Legions.

Perhaps we, as the bow wave of the "new veterans" need to join, and bring about a change of culture.
 

Journeyman

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E.R. Campbell said:
A crowd of cribbage players.....
That picture pretty much sums up the Legion in my mind -- I believe that it's already beyond salvaging.
 

OldSolduer

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The Legion I go to every Remembrance Day is quite active - however in five - ten years I suspect it will go the way of the others.

I think we 50 somethings need to step in and bring the Legion into the 21st Century.
 

Pat in Halifax

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Unfortunately, it is no longer a 'socially accepted' past time to go drink (maybe too much) with your friends on a regular basis. Our own Messes are going through the same thing. I know when I first joined (early '80s), you couldn't get near Slackers (Fleet Club Halifax) on a Friday or Saturday night after 9 pm and EVERY ship was filled to the gunnels with people in all 3 Messes on Friday and Saturday nights as well. I even remember stopping on the way downtown at SCOTIAN as even their MS and Below Mess was opened on Friday nights.
It is indeed sad to see the demise of the Legion as most of them also serve as ad hoc local military museums. Maybe a page can be taken (no pun intended) from the 'new' overseers of Legion magazine. Though I was initially resistant to the change, it has increased readership 10 fold and then some.
Even though we have bashed the Legion for one 'error in judgment' on another thread, I believe the aim of most in the Legion remains the same as it always was and that was essentially as a support club for veterans. Maybe Jim, you are indeed correct-Is it time for the next generation to more aggressively step up to the plate? I know there are Legions where some have. I know of one where the current President is a current serving Navy CPO2-Maybe we need to follow that lead......?
 
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