Canadian Legion should stand up for all veterans

By Perry Gray-THE HILL TIMES-June 18, 2007

Re: “Royal Canadian Legion is not all about ‘booze, beer, and bingo’: Allard,” (The Hill Times, June 11, p. 14.). The reason why I and more than 90 per cent of CF veterans choose not to belong to the Royal Canadian Legion is made quite obvious in Pierre Allard’s response to the previous week’s opinion piece by Sean Bruyea and Robert Smol, “Royal Canadian Legion rapidly losing its connectivity to veteran community,” The Hill Times, June 4, 2007).

Mr. Allard’s chest-pounding sounds more like a policy paper from Veterans’ Affairs than it does the efforts of a veterans’ group which wants to reach out to veterans and their families.

The legion leadership is often out of touch with its own membership. Ontario Command of the Legion does not share Mr. Allard’s enthusiasm for the obviously regressive programs in the New Veterans Charter.

What is also clear from Ontario Command’s comments and highly relevant to the more than 830,000 veterans and their more than two million family members, Mr. Allard has confused reality when he claims that the “consultative process was both extensive and comprehensive.”

What troubles me, and I imagine most modern veterans the most, is why the Legion appears to be such a lapdog of Veterans Affairs. The Legion enthusiastically allowed the eradication of a lifelong disability award in favour of a one-time lump sum payment contrary to the survey the Legion helped conduct on CF bases which indicated CF members almost unanimously rejected the lump sum payment.

A married CF soldier with two children who tragically lost both legs would receive approximately $36,000 tax free annually for life under the old plan and a one-time payment of $250,000 under the new Legion-approved plan. I would like to meet Mr. Allard’s financial adviser for an investment which pays more than 15 per cent after taxes.

I will not consider joining the Legion until I see it stand up in the media for the rights of all veterans not just aging war veterans. I guess more than 90 per cent of the 600,000 CF veterans have made the same choice.

Perry Gray

Ottawa, Ont.