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Whither the Royal Canadian Legion? Or RCL Withers?

Journeyman

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Jim Seggie said:
I think we 50 somethings need to step in and bring the Legion into the 21st Century.
I suspect it's more a case of the 30-somethings caring enough to wade in, and then they'll have to convince the 20-somethings, if there's any chance of continuity and continued existence.
 

OldSolduer

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I agree but we have to start somewhere - We may have to lead them there.....

Journeyman said:
I suspect it's more a case of the 30-somethings caring enough to wade in, and then they'll have to convince the 20-somethings, if there's any chance of continuity and continued existence.
 

Jarnhamar

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I think "mess's" are following behind the RCL, I find there is not much interest in them anymore.

I was in Borden on course and the JRs mess wasn't a very happening place. 
First off paying the 3 week mess membership fee was THEE most important thing in our clearance.(Second was some kinda scary official languages act brief)
"You WILL pay mess dues, there is time allotted into the course schedule for you to go to your respective messes to clear in- there will be a bus laid on to bring you there and back"

'What about our route letters so we can get paid?'
"Uhh, ya, the clerks will take care of that or something...but pay your mess dues or else".

Actually out of a half dozen places we were supposed to clear in to the only thing that they wanted was the mess in clearance.

The couple of nights we made our way to the mess it was closed, including a Saturday night around 11pm.  It's no wonder people aren't into the mess scene anymore.

Legions are the same way.  Their just not happening places.

The last remembrance day that we went to the local mess to drink with the Vets it closed it's doors at 8pm, with the group we had they could have easily made $2000+ off of us that night.
Another club (Local RCAF wing) just sat there waiting for a reason to give us a hard time. One of the young troops swore and the ring leader at a table quickly stood up rushed over to us from the other side of the hall and started  a speech about appropriate language and there was women present and if we violated the rules again we would be asked to leave.

This is a great article(above) These two points really cut to the chase.

The shift from a veterans’ club to a community organization largely populated by seniors is alienating many young soldiers.


“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.”

It's a community club who's selling point is the ex military angle only ex military aren't interested anymore. It's only a matter of time before it folds.
 

MJP

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Grimaldus said:
The last remembrance day that we went to the local mess to drink with the Vets it closed it's doors at 8pm, with the group we had they could have easily made $2000+ off of us that night.
pm

I had the same thing happen last year at the St. James Legion in Winnipeg.  Crowded as all get out, lots story telling, drinking and having fun.  Then boom closed at like 8pm when they could have made allot of money off of the folks inside.  I just shook my head and took my money to a place that wanted it.
 

The Bread Guy

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Agreed re:  messes aren't the "draw" they used to be.

Over the past 10 years, I've seen the Sgt/WO mess I used to belong to go from open two nights a week plus Friday after work plus a party a month or so dribble down to not always open every parade night (which is now once a week).

I also hear second- and third-hand that the JR Club is nowhere NEAR as active as it was when I was in 20 years ago.

Legions in town?  Still open, but way too many, and nobody willing to merge.  On Remembrance Day, a few are packed to the rafters, but methinks many are empty or closed.  My Legion experience is slightly different than some here - "yer just Militia - what have you ever done?"  As Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap ....  If organizations suck even 1/2 as much as other threads suggest, how many 50-year-olds are going to put up with that level of b***sh** long enough to ensure the next cohort is in and enjoying?

Journeyman said:
I suspect it's more a case of the 30-somethings caring enough to wade in, and then they'll have to convince the 20-somethings, if there's any chance of continuity and continued existence.
Have to agree - I see myself as an "old fart" at this point, making it hard to convince the up-and-coming types to participate.  Call me persnickety, but with today's "me" generation, I think it's harder to get that cohort to think about how important and fun it is to socialize in person.  Even when I stopped drinking in the 'Mo, I still enjoyed hanging with my buds while I enjoyed my club soda - still do, as a matter of fact.
 

Edward Campbell

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I agree with the points about messes ... my perception is that fewer and fewer serving members are using them as the "clubs" they should be.* That's probably because they are not operated as "clubs" with 21st century members.

I note, too, the private clubs are closing, regularly, and new ones are not opening.

Part of it is that most serving members are busy and they live in the suburbs and need time with their families. Messes are far away and don't offer activities that matter much to young family men.

The messes, here in Ottawa and in other cities which I have visited in the past few years, seem to be "clubs" for retired officers - except on reserve parade nights.

Perhaps all "clubs" are on the way out ...

_______
* Many, many years ago we learned that the officers mess had three functions:

1. The social centre of the unit where the CO and officers represented the unit to the community;

2. A home for the single officers; and

3. A club for all the officers. "Club" in this context implies a private, gentlemen's club of the sort that were very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
 
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jollyjacktar

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I honest believe the RCL's time has past in that today's young veteran is not interested in that type of club atmosphere.  For many of the same reasons the Fleet Club is empty on a Saturday night, they have more "relevant action" happening downtown.  For those like myself that have an hours drive home from the city, or at least 1/2 hour from the nearest RCL in my case, it's simply a choice of I don't take a chance of drinking and driving.  I have never set foot in the nearest operational Legion and honestly I don't expect to.

The RCL I was a member of thirty years ago was at that time mostly populated by the town drunkards, mostly civilian as well, and it was not an inspiring place to go to.  I am sure in it's inception it was a needed place for veterans of the Great War to meet and share real face time with.  As some of the others have pointed out, who does that anymore?  The fact that this forum exists and is thriving confirms how socializing has evolved.  Maybe when the last of the Korean vets pass, and as each Branch finds it membership of vets expired so should that Branch.
 

GAP

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1. The social centre of the unit where the CO and officers represented the unit to the community;
community is basically excluded....
2. A home for the single officers; and
what's the draw.....womin? there? when the local clubs are dripping with'em?
3. A club for all the officers. "Club" in this context implies a private, gentlemen's club of the sort that were very popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Is that genre of society even active anymore?
 

gun runner

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I remember the JR Mess open at 1600hrs a couple days of the week, and always on Fridays and Saturdays. That was in the late eighties. The RSS staff were our best customers, and us newbies at the time would sit quietly drinking and listen to the chatter for anything juicy for the PT session in the morning( another thing that is going the way of the Dodo). Course smokers, St.Barbaras day, and battery anniversaries the place was always jumping. Now it is only open on the occasional training weekends, never during the week, and Rememberance Day. Battery dinners, St.Barbaras day, et al, are now held at larger centers(Brandon this year) so that more participants can attend. Ubique :2c: :remembrance:
 

medicineman

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I seem to recall as late as last year, if you were getting out of the CF (especially as a long service member) you were given basically a free year's membership to the Legion of your choice - I remember filling out a few of those applications for other people's DWD's.  If they want membership, they've got to promote themselves more to the folks still in and getting out...I can say that I was not presented with said certificate or even had it mentioned to me during my DWD...it was the girl from VAC that actually brought up anything about the Legion to me, and largely because of the pension advocacy side of them.

MM
 
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jollyjacktar

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Good point, MM.  I forgot about the VAC advocacy that they do.  I have no personal experience with that end of it or knowledge if it is useful and effective,  but that is an endeavor I will applaud the RCL for doing.
 
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aesop081

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jollyjacktar said:
but that is an endeavor I will applaud the RCL for doing.

Call me crazy but, the RCL sold us out in the NVC deal and for them to "advocate" for members after that is kind of hypocritical.
 

medicineman

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CDN Aviator said:
Call me crazy but, the RCL sold us out in the NVC deal and for them to "advocate" for members after that is kind of hypocritical.

Another reason why alot of ex-serviemen/women aren't joining - they feel betrayed by that...

MM
 

Kat Stevens

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Messes and Legions are dying because it is now socially horrific to see groups of soldiers, or anyone else for that matter, sitting around drinking for long periods.  The mess used to be where we formed our strongest bonds, now it's where you commit carreer suicide.  The CofC decided that type of behavior was no longer acceptable, and the troops abandoned the messes in droves.  They still gather, they just do it away from the fun police.  As for the Legion, they disconnected from the troops when associate membership was made open to all.  Civies don't get us, and we don't get them.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Let me tell you about the Windsor Legion, playing cribbage, in the news story above.

A Remembrance Day about ten years ago, myself and about 15-20 other local Reservists, in DEU, showed up there after we left the armouries. In the afternoon and not drunk. We went there because our Legion was closed, on Remembrance Day. ::)

There was a long haired civilian bartender behind the bar. At first he wouldn't even acknowledge our presence. When he finally did, he said that he wouldn't serve us as the members (about 30 some odd) were having a luncheon in the other room and he was there for that. However, at the moment (and for about the next 20 minutes) he served no one.

We asked to speak to the President. He finally came out and we explained we weren't there for trouble or to disrupt their luncheon. We asked to use the back room and be afforded the use of the bartender as he wasn't doing anything.

The President looked at the bartender, told him to put us in the back room, give us one beer and send us on our way.

Without further word to us, or even speaking to us, he left. The bartender poured a tray of draught, said take it or leave it, took our money and refused to acknowledge us further.

As we were leaving, he told us to go back and return our empty glasses to the bar. House rules. Fat chance with that.

That Legion deserves to close.

You really can't make shit like this up.
 
J

jollyjacktar

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CDN Aviator said:
Call me crazy but, the RCL sold us out in the NVC deal and for them to "advocate" for members after that is kind of hypocritical.

Again, I'm afraid I have not kept up with the selling down the river by the RCL.  I am not a fan of the NVC as I feel it is simply a money saving deal for the Government of the day that is in power and has little to do with serving the veteran but much with being self serving.  Period.  I will accept whatever assistance from whatever quarter it comes from in advocacy for veterans against the lapdogs at VAC.  If they, (the RCL) can and want to make up for any douchebaggery they incurred by selling us down the river, let them do it, I say. 
 

bossi

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jollyjacktar said:
Again, I'm afraid I have not kept up with the selling down the river by the RCL.  I am not a fan of the NVC as I feel it is simply a money saving deal for the Government of the day that is in power and has little to do with serving the veteran but much with being self serving.  Period.  I will accept whatever assistance from whatever quarter it comes from in advocacy for veterans against the lapdogs at VAC.  If they, (the RCL) can and want to make up for any douchebaggery they incurred by selling us down the river, let them do it, I say.

Unfortunately I've let my Legion membership lapse, but I'm one of the few that's inclined to try and save it.
Having said that ... the reason I think we need to save it is because of the damage they've done by supporting the NVC (i.e. yes, everybody's observations are valid with respect to old wrongs and shoddy treatment, however ... if we don't remain engaged we run the risk of further dementia ... er, um ... fumbles by the Old Guard in the RCL ... sorta like Von Manstein's "four types of officers")

And, to go off on a tangent for a second ...
The NVC and its lump sum payout came about under the "leadership" of former VAC minister Albina Guarnieri - she views the NVC as a highlight of her career, now that she has retired to suck ... er, um ... draw her cadillac gold-plated fully-indexed MP's pension, unlike the lump sum payout she foisted on our wounded vets ... funny about that, eh?

Okay - back on topic:  I'm the LAST person to pretend I'm "holier than thou", thus I include myself amongst those who can't really complain that much about the RCL's senility - it needs fresh blood, and that's us IMHO.  We are already an "invisible minority" within Canadian society, and we'll be silent as well as invisible if we lose the ability to use the RCL's voice.  $0.02
 

Teeps74

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Well, I feel much the same as others here. The RCL has sold us out on the NVC (that abomination serves no other purpose then to save money for the government).  The Legion can and should fix it's self.  They have a new generation of vets now who need a strong advocate, ones with political clout and the willingness to fight for vets, especially those who are wounded and in need of advocacy.

Like the phoenix of myth, perhaps the Legion needs to dye off before being reborn... Or perhaps some fire brands with the time effort and intestinal fortitude can take it over and turn it around (I am not that guy, still in, and still busy with other charity work).
 
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