Editorial

Eternal poppy
Editorial, Our Veterans

Eternal poppy

The bleak, muddy terrain of Western Europe during the First World War was trenched, scarred, bombed and cratered into oblivion. Tides of battle flowed back and forth across the front, and the ground and greenery were scorched by shellfire and poisoned by gas. Soldiers and horses, irretrievable, decomposed in the muck. It seemed nothing could exist here. Only death. But amid the chaos and carnage, bright red poppies sprouted and blossomed in no man’s land and among the graves of the fallen. Soldiers grasped at the glimmer of hope they saw in the determined wildflower: if it could rise from the morass, they surely could too. One soldier in particular—John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in Belgium’s Flanders region in 1915—was so moved by the battlefield death of a friend that he set t...
Pick up the pace
Editorial, Our Veterans

Pick up the pace

The backlog of benefit applications at Veterans Affairs Canada is beyond exasperating. Despite good intentions, despite throwing more money and additional people at the problem, the backlog persists, and is even poised to grow as the pandemic winds down, if predictions of veterans’ advocates prove correct.   Veterans Affairs Canada set its service standard at providing decisions on 80 per cent of applications within 16 weeks of accepting them, a target it met for fewer than one in four applications in 2019-2020. This was down from 37 per cent the year before.  The reason for the backlog is simple. The department is flooded with applications. New benefits have come on stream, eligibility for other benefits has been widened, and veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed For...
The key is adaptability
Editorial, Our Veterans

The key is adaptability

Kudos are in order. For the past 16 months—the COVID era—The Royal Canadian Legion has made every effort to prevent interruption to the services it provides to veterans, and it has shown remarkable adaptability. Back in the pre-pandemic days, Legion branches served as second homes to many in communities across Canada. Places to gather in groups, socialize, reminisce, grumble, throw darts, get support—and do good work for others. Branches generate new members and new revenue. And they are fundamental to the grassroots federalist model by which the Legion operates. Thank goodness it won’t be much longer before they are all reopened and operating at capacity.  But looking back, the lockdown closure of branches dealt quite a body blow to the core of this national institution.  Digital ini...
Zero homeless?
Editorial, Our Veterans

Zero homeless?

London, Ont., recently declared it has functionally eradicated veteran homelessness within its city limits.  “Functional zero veteran homelessness” is a status designated by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. It means the number of homeless veterans is less than, or equal to, the number of veterans the city has proven it can house in a month. The alliance’s Built for Zero Canada campaign has endorsed London as the first Canadian community to attain that distinction. “Safe and affordable housing is a right for everyone, especially brave women and men who have so selflessly served our country,” said Mayor Ed Holder.   Homelessness likely affects 3,000 to 5,000 of Canada’s nearly 650,000 veterans, according to a 2019 report to Parliament by the House of Commons Standing Co...
Sombre coverage
Editorial, News

Sombre coverage

The Legionary cover headline in September 1939 was sombre—Canada at War—and the words ‘The Fighting Man’s Magazine’ were added to the masthead.   The magazine’s coverage now included Legion programs for personnel at home and overseas, which included education services, recreation huts, publications, sports and mobile kitchens. The Legionary also had its own overseas correspondent, a Legion welfare officer attached to the 1st Canadian Infantry Division. The July 1940 issue included “The Nazi Bluff,” an essay debunking German invincibility. Improvements and gaps in veterans’ benefits and services continued to be covered, and coverage also reflected concerns of a new generation navigating the bureaucracy to obtain land grants, re-establishment credits, financial aid for higher educa...
Honouring centenarians
Editorial, Our Veterans

Honouring centenarians

Never before have so many Canadians reached the grand old age of 100, and their compatriots are noticing. Among the last of “The Greatest Generation,” many are veterans of the Second World War and Korea, and they have been feted with tributes, news coverage, mailing campaigns, even parades. There’s Fred Arsenault of Toronto (March 6), Harold Freeston of Langley, B.C. (June 24), Armour Hanna of Toronto (July 1), Bill Marr of South Surrey, B.C. (Aug. 25), Winnifred Magor of Calgary (Nov. 9), Robert Spencer of Ottawa (Nov. 9), Gordon Piers of Nicola Valley, B.C. (Nov. 10), David Thiessen of Abbotsford, B.C. (Nov. 11), Jack Coles of Qualicum Beach, B.C. (Nov. 16), Peter Chance of Sidney, B.C. (Nov. 24), Monica Christensen of Toronto (Nov. 26), and George Wilson of Lethbridge, Alta. (Dec....

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