Remembrance Day: 3 things to think about

Remembrance-Day-Lest-We-Forget-The-PoppyThousands of British Columbian men and women bravely signed up to fight against enemy forces or serve as nurses and personnel abroad during the First and Second World Wars.
Although no blood was shed at home in Vancouver, the history of the war clearly left its mark on the growing metropolis.
Sunday’s November 11 Remembrance Day events commemorated the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.
Remembrance Day: 3 things to think about
1. Veterans by the numbers
There are 649,300 veterans in Canada:
248,300 served in the Second World War or Korean War.
2601,000 are Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) veterans, from regular and primary reserves.
2B.C. has the third-highest number of veterans with 91,700, behind Quebec (120,600) and Ontario (235,700).
210 per cent of veterans are women.
Average age
293 — Second World War
286 — Korean War
260 — Regular CAF
255 — Primary Reserves
Changing demographics
2Veterans Affairs Canada provides services to about 18 per cent of Canadian vets for issues such as disability pensions or rehabilitation services. Since 2010, it has assisted more modern-day CAF veterans than traditional war service veterans.
2In 2017/18, services were provided to 20,139 war vets and 96,644 CAF vets.
2By 2022/23, that difference is expected to increase as war vets continue to age, when Ottawa anticipates serving only 5,500 of them, but 119,700 modern-day CAF vets.
More than 40,000 Canadian Armed Forces personnel were sent to Afghanistan, the largest deployment since the Second World War. The mission ended in 2014.
2There are 16,500 Afghanistan veterans, and 10,550 of those receive disability benefits.
2Mental health conditions were the most common reason for disability benefits, followed closely by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
2. Royal Canadian Legions: then and now
Legions organize poppy sales and support for veterans, but as the veteran population declines so, too, do legion memberships. Across Canada, the number of members peaked in 1984 with 602,500 but dropped to 550,000 by 1996, according to a Vancouver Sun story written at the time. Today, legions count just 270,000 members across Canada, but are trying to get that number back up to 300,000, said David Whittier, executive director of the B.C. Yukon Command.
The trend has been similar in the B.C.-Yukon region:
22010 — 66,000 members and 152 branches
22016 — 57,000 members and 149 branches
22018 — 45,000 members and 147 branches
There are about 5,000 new members registered a year in B.C. and Yukon, Whittier said, but that’s not enough to offset the number who leave each year. The biggest growth has been in affiliate members — those joining the legion without a military background — who now represent more than 30 per cent of the local membership. The other members include veterans and active CAF (24 per cent) and their relatives (44 per cent).
To retain existing members and attract more, the B.C.-Yukon branches have explored changes to some locations to make them more popular with younger generations, such as a coffee shop model with lattés and free Wi-Fi. “We really want to reach out to veterans of all ages and eras, and we really want to reach out to their families and the community,” Whittier said.
A slide show prepared for the legion’s 2017 convention, entitled New Era, New Legion, discusses new potential revenue streams such as bakeries, lunch-box delivery services, and community shuttle services. It said one branch makes $20,000 annually by holding farmer’s markets.
Suggestions also include trying to recruit new members through commercials, and transit advertising, and through new creative evening activities such as open-mike, trivia contests and dance lessons. Whittier’s message is that people should consider joining the legion for all the good community work it does, such as those programs supported by poppy sales. “The legion does a lot of really tangible, useful things,” he said.
3. The War Amps turn 100
The War Amps, which began helping military amputees, now raises money to help a variety of people who have lost a limb, including children. Some of its history:
1918: On Sept. 23, 1918, the Amputation Club of British Columbia held its first meeting for war amputees, the start of many similar groups that would form across Canada and eventually amalgamate into a national organization.
1932: The War Amps and four other veteran groups lobbied the federal government for improved rights for war veterans, especially those with disabilities.
1946: The Key Tag Service began. It raises money and also provides jobs for amputees, who make the identification tags that Canadians attached to valued items. To date, 1.5 million sets of lost keys have been returned to their owners.
1962: The War Amps started to help all Canadian amputees, not only war veterans.
1975: The CHAMP program was started to offer support services to child amputees and their families, including financial assistance, regional seminars and connections with peers.
2016: In this year alone, there were 1,072 amputees enrolled with the War Amps, and it granted 3,355 requests for financial help to buy prosthetics.
2018: On its 100th birthday, the War Amps says it is serving an increasing number of amputees.

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