VERNON - The ranks of the Vernon Legion are shrinking.
Ron Heuman, legion president, says the branch is struggling with falling membership and a lack of volunteers willing to sit on its executive committee. At 70-years-old, and having organized the Vernon Remembrance Day ceremony for the past 16 years, he’s retiring from the position, although he’ll remain a lifelong member.
On Tuesday, Nov. 22, the legion will hold an annual general meeting to elect a president, vice-president and treasurer, among other key positions. The question is how many people will step up to fill the roles.
“Right now, we’re experiencing difficulty in that respect,” Heuman says. “I think people are reluctant to give their time and support organizations in an active capacity. That’s germane to all organizations, not just the legion.”
He says legions across Canada are facing the same dilemma, and without new members stepping up to carry the torch, the future is uncertain.
“We may become entities of the past,” he says.
The legion, which currently has about 345 members, has been struggling for some time. In 2013, it was forced to cancel social events such as dances due to mounting financial pressures. At the time, a decision was made to ‘go back to the basics’ in order to keep the legion going. That meant leaving its location on 29 Street and moving into an office space with the Fraternal Order of Eagles on 25 Avenue.
The legion continues to organize the poppy campaign and a weekly meat draw, with all proceeds going to charities such as Santas Anonymous, Kindale, and Teens Count Too, as well as scholarships and bursaries for local students. The legion also acts as an advocate for veterans.
Legion members include veterans and their families, as well as members of the general public. Heuman says that was done a long time ago to bolster membership and include all community members in the work they do.
“So the legion could rejuvenate itself, to open up its doors to the public to join and support the good causes the legion does and its service to the community,” Heuman says.
Heuman says most of the legion members are of an older demographic, with the average age of veterans being in their late 80s or early 90s. They are considered traditional veterans, Heuman says, compared to modern veterans serving today.
“It’s the modern day veteran that needs to take up the reins,” he says.
The annual general meeting is on Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. It will be held at 5101 25 Ave. New members are encouraged to attend.
“This will be a greatly important meeting for future membership,” Heuman says.
For more information, contact the Legion at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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