Just What Is It We Remember? Part Two
It took me several years to figure out that all those Legion members aren’t veterans. To look at them with their chest full of metals, beret and blazers they look and act the part. As they march somberly in step they look almost identical to old veterans of the Great Wars. Except for the medals (Legion metals are worn on the right and are awarded for participating or holding office), and here is where the debate begins. The Legion owns Remembrance Day with the poppies, wreaths and parades et al. No veteran organization can fill the gap without the consent of the Legion. If you have any doubts look up the copyrights on the poppy, or try and present a wreath without going through the Legion.
There are two camps on Legion Members, and no it’s not just for and against, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Veterans abandoned the legion in droves over the years. I’m not going to pretend to know or understand all that transpired as I was not a member at the time, nor am I a member today. So, on the surface it would be easy to count me as one of those who failed to support the legion and keep it focused on the veteran. Over the course of time veterans were initially replaced by family members and then for the branches to remain open extended to the general public. Here in my little town of 5,000 it is mostly Fire Fighters and emergency responders that occupy the benches, that and a culture of locals looking for better bar prices.
Most of the dialogue I see online and person to person remains standard in tone and content. From we gave it up; to I don’t feel welcomed, to critiques of how and where money earmarked for veterans is spent on other than veterans, to Legion members imitating veterans without having served themselves. In truth most if not all are accurate and valid to a point regardless of which side of the debate you are on. And make no mistake from my own perspective, the Legion backed the Governments plan to axe full medical pensions in 2006 and in my mind have missed the boat on key veterans issues for the past few decades. My main reason for not being a member however is not based on these facts. I believe they did what any civilian organization professing to aide veterans would do. Completely miss identify the needs of a culture (a Veteran’s Culture) because they are not capable of understanding the needs of that culture never having been a part of it. (see my article from 29 Oct 2017 titled Veterans Affair’s).
The main reason I don’t attend the Legion is that I can’t maintain my calm via my routines (see my article Rage from Oct 15 2017) especially in the environment that the Legion presents. Even if it was filled with veterans, I couldn’t do the drinking even if I was to sub for non alcoholic, as I can’t drink pop either, even fruit juices would do me harm with the amount of sugar in them. My health can be that fragile that a simple misstep can cost me more than I have to give. The organization in my mind no longer fits the respite needs of the modern soldier/veteran. We have changed, but the Legion didn’t change with us. It focused on covering the bills instead of covering the veteran. I suspect in time, it will start closing doors, or lose all interest in helping veterans. The unfortunate part is this now civilian organization with little veteran involvement is still the defacto expert on the needs of veterans with regard to veteran support and their word or position is taken as gospel. If only they could understand the needs of the modern day veteran to meet those demands.
It is possible that a large veteran membership drive could right the direction the legion has taken. But that would have to be well organized and orchestrated, as the present ruling class is well entrenched and believing that they have the veterans backs. The Legion then too would be competing with the emerging veterans organizations that I have no doubt will one day replace the Legion and who are posed with much greater strength and focus on the veteran.