VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Every poppy you buy ahead of Remembrance Day supports our war veterans, but those funds are not enough to keep the doors open at many of the facilities meant to help them.
The coffers at a growing number of branches of the Royal Canadian Legion and other veterans clubs are as empty as the tables as more men and women who served in conflicts like World War Two and the Korean War pass away.
As membership money declines, younger vets who have served in places like Afghanistan and Bosnia are simply not signing up.
“The newer veterans who are averse to going to the legion are 60 and under. It’s not just the new people — people of my father’s generation are still leery to come in because they see it as an old person’s club,” veteran Andrew Brown tells City News.
“We are having legions close all around the country. They are going under or they are amalgamating,” adds James Smith, the vice president of the East Toronto RCL branch.
More than 200 branches have closed over the past three decades while membership has dropped from over 600,000 in the 1980s to just over 300,000 today. Only one-third of those have actually served.
Locally, the lounge at the Langley Branch of the Royal Canadian closed in September due to financial problems, though it continues to operate as a service branch.