Langley Advance view: Legions will look very different in the future

The Royal Canadian Legion's branches will evolve as society changes but they still have a role as long as Canada keeps making veterans.

Wags during the recent federal election suggested abolishing the Canadian Senate and using the millions saved to provide better benefits to Canada’s military veterans since they actually did work on behalf of this country. Ironically as veteran benefits have signficantly changed in recent years, so too have the fortunes of some branches of the Royal Canadian Legion.

With changes in technology that allow people to obtain information on veterans’ benefits and services easier than in the past, processes will move quicker. There still needs to be recognition that the psychological impacts of service can be as scaring as the medical. Ways are needed for those who share common experiences to come together. In that past that included legion branches but how vets use them have changed.

The Langley Branch 21 is one example. Despite downsizing in 2010 from its Eastleigh Crescent site to 56th Avenue, it could not sustain itself. This year the branch moved to an office complex with no lounge or entertainment facilities.

It all boils down to money. The Langley branch can’t afford to stay the same and command (basically head office) dictated that changes would be made.

It leaves local veterans without a place to gather and regain a sense of camaraderie, which is essential for the ongoing well-being of many of those who served our country and have since retired from service.

It’s a comment echoed by David Scrivens, a local military serviceman interviewed for our Remembrance Day feature. Scrivens noted the social aspect of legions is needed when people leave the military. Scrivens also drove home the point that the money raised by legion activities like the poppy fund are key to the well-being of many military-based families like his own.

No matter what we as individuals think about a particular battle or conflict and no matter how politicians play around with benefits, as long as Canada has sent soldiers to do a job, veterans will be created, we owe them and the legion has an important role.

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