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Veterans: 19 Sep 2008
Hope for Barrie service club
That the inevitable passage of time has caught up with a local veterans group is hardly a surprise. The surprise is that this isn't happening more regularly.
The Royal Canadian Air Force Association's 441 Huronia Wing has put its Highway 90 building and property, where it's been for 34 years on Barrie's border, up for sale.
Its leaders have stepped away, leaving those who have already served their time to step back into those positions. The auxiliary, which does so much of the work, has been reduced to seven members from 30, and many have already put in decades of service.
The RCAFA has retained its charter to operate, but it will need to find new facilities once the Highway 9 0 property is sold.
The association still has about 125 members, so this is a group which can continue to help the community. But
probably not as much as it once did. Our veterans groups have traditionallybeenmadeupof thosewhoserved Canada in 20th century wars -- the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War. Others with military experience have also been welcome. But the veterans have faded away, no surprise since those wars ended many decades ago.
And while Canadian military personnel from more recent conflicts, including Afghanistan, are certainly welcome at local Royal Canadian Legions and other veterans service clubs, more members are leaving than arriving. Veterans clubs have also begun admitting those without a military background, in an effort to boost their membership.
Every Canadian community has service clubs, and they do immeasurable good on both large and small scales.
In Barrie, for example, service clubs contributed to financing Royal Victoria Hospital. But they don't hesitate to send children to summer camps, or find money so kids can play sports. Those in real need can usually find a service club willing to help.
Veterans clubs do all of this, but they also act as advocates for veterans and their families.
For reasons which have always been difficult, if not impossible, to understand, our veterans have had to fight for what they deserve from Canadian governments
Veterans clubs have fought many bureaucratic battles for their members, helping them secure better pensions and benefits. But they also help on a much smaller scale, making sure older veterans have their lawns cut and their driveways shovelled.
But as our veterans have grown old-e r, and club membership has dwindled, there are fewer to do the work, and they don't have the energy they once had. Which is a big reason why the RCAFA 441 Huronia Wing members are in the position they are in.
Help is at hand, however.
Neil McKinnon, president of Barrie's Army Navy & Air Force Veterans group, says the RCAFA members would be welcome to meet at the ANAF's George Street facilities.
McKinnon says he remembers a time when the ANAF was having facility problems, and the RCAFA stepped in to help. So he's returning the favour.
Veterans clubs right across Canada will need this kind of help now, and in future years, to continue their good work.
The Barrie Examiner
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