Legion embarks on drive to boost membership

The annual dues go to services for veterans, RCMP

The local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is looking for more members. (File photo)

The local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is looking for more members. (File photo)

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 249 is asking its members to check their status and to renew if necessary.

From 115 members prior to the pandemic, the number dropped to 27 this year and has since rebounded to about 50 people.

“What happened, because of COVID, we haven’t had a full Remembrance Day event since 2019,” said branch secretary treasurer Joanne Woodbeck. “That was the trigger for many members, in coming to the branch afterward, to also renew their membership.”

At the same time, some members have passed away while others have moved away.

Woodbeck did add that because this year was the first full, in-person Remembrance Day observance, there was an uptick in membership renewals.

“We do need our membership to increase,” she said.

As is the case at other Legion branches across the country, the $50 membership fee goes straight to services for veterans and their families.

“It also applies to RCMP members and their families,” Woodbeck said.

Services provided across the country range from service dogs, measures to deal with PTSD to aids to improve mobility.

The long record of the Royal Canadian Legion in providing for veterans began as an aftermath of the First World War.

And although many members of the public may have connected the Legion with veterans of the Second World War, Woodbeck says the country has sent its military to many dangerous places around the world since then.

“Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf in the 1990s, peacekeeping missions,” she said in listing off the duties to which the military has been assigned.

It means veterans are now in younger age brackets.

“For many people, they might not learn about our veterans until the visit a Legion and learn the history,” Woodbeck continued. “We encourage the community to come out and learn the history.”

If membership provides for veterans services, the upstairs lounge at the local branch provides revenues to meet the local branch’s operational expenses.

Woodbeck said membership is not required to take advantage of the lounge, pointing out that it’s a family-friendly establishment until 7 p.m.

“So really we have different streams of support for different purposes,” she said.

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