Ross Pet­ten earns top Le­gion post

Port de Grave res­i­dent only sec­ond ‘as­so­ciate’ mem­ber to take on top post

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS edi­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Ross Pet­ten of Port de Grave has taken over the top post with the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion - NL Com­mand, mak­ing him the first mem­ber of the Le­gion in Bay Roberts to as­cend to this po­si­tion. Pet­ten is a well-known mem­ber of the fish­ing com­mu­nity, and has also been mak­ing his mark when it comes to serv­ing mil­i­tary vet­er­ans and pro­mot­ing re­mem­brance.

A Port de Grave res­i­dent cred­ited with help­ing bol­ster the Bay Roberts Le­gion branch and re­ceived praise for his ef­forts to sup­port vet­er­ans is the new pres­i­dent of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion - NL Com­mand.

Ross Pet­ten, who pre­vi­ously held the post of first vice-pres­i­dent of NL Com­mand, was un­op­posed in his bid for the top post dur­ing meet­ings in Gan­der from Aug. 2428.

He is the first mem­ber of Branch No. 32 in Bay Roberts to as­cend to the pres­i­dency, and only the sec­ond “as­so­ciate mem­ber” to do so. An as­so­ciate mem­ber is de­fined as a Le­gion­naire with no di­rect con­nec­tion to the Cana­dian mil­i­tary. Some 70 per cent of mem­bers are now clas­si­fied as as­so­ciates.

“It’s a real hon­our to hold this po­si­tion in an or­ga­ni­za­tion that be­gan its pres­ence in this prov­ince more than 87 years ago,” Pet­ten told The Com­pass.

Pet­ten will serve a two-year term, and suc­ceeds Ai­den Crewe of Woody Point.

Hum­bled by sup­port

Pet­ten said he was hum­bled by the sup­port from his peers, and promised to work hard to ad­dress con­cerns such as de­clin­ing mem­ber­ships, the clo­sure of branches and an ap­par­ent re­luc­tance by a new gen­er­a­tion of mil­i­tary vet­er­ans to join the Le­gion.

Pet­ten joined the Le­gion 15 years ago be­cause he be­lieved greatly in what the or­ga­ni­za­tion stood for, which is to serve vet­er­ans and their de­pen­dents while en­sur­ing that their con­tri­bu­tions to our coun­try are never for­got­ten.

He said the pro­mo­tion of re­mem­brance and the sup­port pro­vided to or­ga­ni­za­tions, youth groups and oth­ers was added in­cen­tive.

“That be­lief has not changed over the years,” Pet­ten said dur­ing his ac­cep­tance speech.

Pet­ten is the owner of a fish­ing en­ter­prise, and has been rec­og­nized for his con­tri­bu­tions to the in­dus­try and his com­mu­nity. Most re­cently, he was awarded the Queen’s Di­a­mond Ju­bilee Medal and was in­ducted into the At­lantic Canada Marine In­dus­tries Hall of Fame.

He has been ac­tive in the fish­eries union, is a long­time mem­ber of the Cana­dian Coast Guard As­so­ci­a­tion, and serves on har­bour au­thor­i­ties in both Bay Roberts and Port de Grave.

Pet­ten served as pres­i­dent of Branch No. 32 in Bay Roberts for five years, dur­ing which time mem­ber­ship grew by some 30 per cent, the branch be­came fi­nan­cially se­cure, and its rep­u­ta­tion through­out the NL Com­mand im­proved sig­nif­i­cantly.

Chal­lenges ahead

But he takes over as NL Com­mand pres­i­dent at a dif­fi­cult time, and there are many chal­lenges in the off­ing.

Dur­ing his speech, Pet­ten be­moaned the fact that branch clo­sures have oc­curred in this prov­ince, and that over­all mem­ber­ship has been on a down­ward slide.

“Peo­ple are not join­ing the Le­gion as they did in the past, whether as vet­er­ans or as­so­ciate mem­bers …,” said Pet­ten.

The num­ber of branches in this prov­ince has dropped to 46 in re­cent years, from a high of about 65, said Pet­ten. As for mem­ber­ship, the num­ber is now at about 4,300, though the sit­u­a­tion has sta­blized in re­cent years. It’s a turn­around that has caught the at­ten­tion of the national of­fice, and NL Com­mand has rou­tinely been rec­og­nized for ef­forts to bol­ster mem­ber­ships.

But Pet­ten is still not sat­is­fied, stat­ing, “I’d still like to see it in­crease.”

He said

a

stronger

ef­fort

is needed to en­tice vet­er­ans of more re­cent con­flicts in places such as Bos­nia, Haiti and Afghanistan to get in­volved with the Le­gion. He said th­ese peo­ple have an im­por­tant role to play.

“We must make them feel wanted and needed. They have a great deal to of­fer the Le­gion and its pro­grams, es­pe­cially when be­ing asked to speak to our youth. We have to let them know that they do have a place to go and re­ceive the re­spect and sup­port that they so de­servedly have earned and need.”

Pet­ten com­mended a re­cent de­ci­sion to hire a part-time ser­vice of­fi­cer, call­ing it a “very pos­i­tive step in the right di­rec­tion to pro­vid­ing them with the sup­port they need.”

He also made spe­cial men­tion of his wife, Christina, de­scrib­ing her sup­port as in­valu­able.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Ross Pet­ten (right, fore­ground) of Port de Grave is the new pres­i­dent of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion - NL Com­mand. He is pic­tured here at a re­mem­brance cer­e­mony in St. John’s this past sum­mer.

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