The Royal Canadian Legion Langley Branch is not closed but has changed how it operates and where it’s located.
The branch moved to 20681 56th Ave., down the road from its former location at 20570 56th Ave. which was about 5,200 square feet.
The branch had been at that location since selling its original 12,000 square foot building on Eastleigh Crescent in 2010. It was built in 1947.
The 206th Street location is now a service branch, meaning no lounge but it will continue to provide services to veterans, and programs for the community such as scholarships. The branch has more than 300 members but about 50 members used the lounge and Legion command (head office) closed it to cut expenses.
Branch president Shirley Blair initially went to the legion to get out of the house and meet people, adding a legion branch is like family.
“We love our vets and we love serving our vets,” she said.
Langley isn’t the only branch struggling.
As part of the changes, the branch is getting assistance from Karen Kuzek, a volunteer branch advisory representative based out of the legion command. She works with branches to make them self-sustaining.
“We work with them at all levels,” she explained.
There’s no set timeline for her work here but she said she will remain “until they don’t need me anymore.”
Kuzek, who is also a deputy zone commander for the area from Langley to Hope, said the Langley branch is still open and working, just that the lounge was closed.
“A legion is not defined by a lounge,” she commented.
Branch 21 has a dedicated service officer to help veterans with health needs, benefits, Veterans Affairs and other programs.
Blair said that can be everything from benefits to not having enough groceries or needing a hearing aid.
Langley Legion programs include: Veterans Transition Program, certified service dogs for PTSD, BCIT Legion Military Skills Conversion, support for George Derby Residential Care Centre and Langley Lodge, and school bursaries and athletics.
The branch will continue to run its school poster and literary contests, running for 50 years to help students understand Remembrance.
Any Canadian citizen can be a member of the legion.
The cenotaph outside the old branch will be stored by the City which worked with the legion when making a cenotaph at Douglas Park a few years ago. The nearby Masonic Lodge has kindly offered its space for social functions, Blair added.
Branch elections come up in December. Blair would like to see the branch regain some of its previous amenities.
“I’m hoping that this is a temporary unit for us… but if it isn’t, then we still are there to serve our vets and community,” she said.