Prov­ince sets aside $100K to aid vet­er­ans

Fund­ing will help Le­gion, other groups main­tain ser­vices as mem­ber­ship ebbs

Saskatoon StarPhoenix - - CITY + REGION -

With Re­mem­brance Day loom­ing, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment an­nounced Fri­day the cre­ation of a new Le­gion and ANAVETS Sup­port Pro­gram that will pro­vide fund­ing grants to Royal Cana­dian Le­gion branches and Army, Navy, Air Force Vet­er­ans (ANAVETS) units in Saskatchewan.

“This grant pro­gram will as­sist with the im­por­tant work of sup­port­ing vet­er­ans and keep­ing the mem­ory of our fallen he­roes,” the prov­ince said in a news re­lease.

“It’s our turn to sup­port our vet­er­ans who have served and put ev­ery­thing on the line,” Pre­mier Scott Moe said in the re­lease an­nounc­ing the $100,000 pro­gram.

Sev­eral le­gions have been strug­gling fi­nan­cially, in­clud­ing the one lo­cated in Regina, as mem­ber­ship de­clines and rev­enues drop.

Last month, the Leader-Post told the story of the le­gion in Regina turn­ing to GoFundMe af­ter fall­ing on tough times, forc­ing it to dip into sav­ings to keep its doors open.

“The Royal Cana­dian Le­gion, Regina Branch 001 has come to a point in our his­tory where we need to reach out to the pub­lic and ask for help,” reads the first line in a GoFundMe page launched on Oct. 15. Es­tab­lished in 1926, RCL Branch 001 was Canada’s first char­tered le­gion.

“Our Regina le­gion, like many oth­ers across this great coun­try, have fallen on some tough times. An ag­ing pop­u­la­tion and the loss of vet­er­ans from the First World War and World War II have left us de­pleted over the years,” it con­tin­ued.

The cam­paign was cre­ated by Jody Hoff­man, the le­gion’s op­er­a­tions man­ager.

If the le­gion had to close its doors, “there would be no place for the vet­er­ans to come when they do need help,” Hoff­man said in an in­ter­view last month.

The gov­ern­ment pro­gram will be im­ple­mented as part of the 2019-20 bud­get and of­fer sup­port to Le­gion branches and ANAVETS units in their ef­forts to serve vet­er­ans and com­mu­nity mem­bers through­out the prov­ince.

“We look for­ward to this pro­vin­cial in­vest­ment to en­sure long-term sup­port for our ex­ist­ing vet­eran ser­vices,” Saskatchewan Le­gion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Chad Wag­ner said in the re­lease. “The Le­gion pro­vides vet­er­ans and ac­tive mem­bers with ser­vices re­lat­ing to men­tal health, se­cur­ing ben­e­fits, ser­vice dogs, ath­letic pro­grams, and home­less­ness as­sis­tance.”

As not-for-profit mem­ber­based or­ga­ni­za­tions, le­gions ad­vo­cate for and serve vet­er­ans, ac­tive mem­bers of the Cana­dian Forces, RCMP, and their fam­i­lies. Mem­bers pro­vide ser­vices in their com­mu­ni­ties, free of charge.

In ad­di­tion to pro­vid­ing fra­ter­nity for vet­er­ans, ANAVETS units in Canada are also man­dated to main­tain and op­er­ate clubs, mu­se­ums, homes and meet­ing places for the ben­e­fit of vet­er­ans and Canada’s war his­tory.

The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment will be work­ing with the Le­gion and ANAVETS to de­ter­mine where this fund­ing will be most ef­fec­tive, and it will re­lease de­tails on the ap­pli­ca­tion process in the com­ing months.

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