From the last Friday of October to November 11, tens of millions of Canadians wear a Poppy as a visual pledge to honour Canada’s Veterans and remember those who sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy today.
While most donate in exchange for this poppy, many are not aware of how their donations are used.
The short answer is that The Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund is held in a trust at every level of the Legion and is strictly used for the care and support of Veterans and their families.
That’s why donating to the Poppy Fund is so important. Through your contributions, we can offer financial assistance and supports for Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP and their families in need.
These are just a few stories of the exceptional impact your Poppy Fund donations have on Canada’s Veterans.
Veteran care facilities
We believe in supporting numerous initiatives and services that help our Veterans in need. This includes Veteran care facilities across Canada.
For example, the Leduc Legion Branch 108 donated $10,000 to the Legacy Place Society.
Legacy Place provides support and resources to military personnel and first responders who are in an emergency or crisis. This includes accommodation and helping those seeking medical, professional, peer or family support.
Way to go Leduc Legion Branch 108!
The Perley & Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre
In 2019, The Royal Canadian Legion donated over $194,000 to the Perley & Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre.
Courtney Rock says, “Working at the Perley & Rideau Veteran’s Health Centre, I’ve seen firsthand the impact the Legion’s Poppy Campaign has on Veterans. From electric beds & blanket warmers to new dining rooms and lounge areas. Thank you for your generosity and support!”
Programs that help Veterans and their families
Veteran Jason Salo and his son at an Operation VetBuild event in Ajax, ON.
A Royal Canadian Legion initiative developed by the Legion’s Operational Stress Injury Special Section (BSO Legion OSI), Operation VetBuild is a peer-to-peer program by Veterans, for Veterans and includes RCMP and Allied Veterans. It runs on public donations and the Poppy Fund.
The program is helping Veterans improve mental health through hobby and in this case, model building.
Jason Salo, a retired reservist and military policeman, says Operation VetBuild gives him a chance to meet other Veterans with similar backgrounds.
“I was missing the camaraderie of getting together and chatting,” says Jason. “It is interesting to sit around the table with different generations of veterans and hear the same sorts of stories from everybody,” he says. Attending the sessions with his 11-year old son Cohen has also added another dimension to his experience, he adds. They get to participate in a fun activity together, and it allows his son to learn directly from other Veterans about the challenges they face.
Operation VetBuild has launched in Legion Branches in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, and continues to grow nation-wide.
Find out more about Operation VetBuild: https://legion.ca/news/articles/2019/06/16/the-royal-canadian-legion-launches-operation-vetbuild
Veteran Support Organizations
Operation Service Dog
In April 2018, The Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command partnered with Wounded Warriors Canada and donated Poppy Funds to support their national WWC PTSD Service Dog Program. Out of the partnership, Operation Service Dog was born.
Operation Service Dog pairs Veterans in Ontario with dogs that meet nationally set standards and criteria taken from the best available standards practised in the country.
Operation Service Dog is already helping Veterans in need and WWC has been able to facilitate the placement of 11 PTSD Service Dogs to Ontario Veterans, with approximately 30 others currently situated in the training process!
One of these placements occurred between a Veteran named Molly and her black lab named Whitney, in the summer of 2019.
“Whitney has made more of a difference in my life than I ever thought possible,” says Molly. “When I have a nightmare, I toss and talk in my sleep and Whitney hops up on the bed and licks my neck and she will lay over my legs and feet until I’ve calmed down.”
Where she once only ventured out a couple of times a month accompanied by family members, she is now going out alone with NSD Whitney several times a week. She is now shopping, going to appointments or taking her young granddaughter out for some one-on-one time. “It is so much fun for all of us to be out together with Whitney taking care of all of us.”
Read more about Molly and the program: https://legion.ca/news/articles/2019/10/22/legion-poppy-funds-helping-veterans-in-need
Project Trauma Support
In July of 2019, The Royal Canadian Legion announced its support for a national initiative that helps military veterans and RCMP officers cope with operational stress injuries. Called “Project Trauma Support,” the program is based in Perth, ON, and designed for those living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, including Moral Injury.
Legion Dominion President Thomas Irvine presented Project Trauma Support (PTS) with the first of three $100,000 Poppy Fund donations to help the organization conduct its therapeutic program, which focuses on both PTSD and Moral Injury.
Program leaders say Moral Injury is a new consideration in mainstream medicine and psychiatry but has a significant role to play in those who develop operational stress injuries.
“Our Project Trauma Support family is very grateful to The Royal Canadian Legion for this very generous financial support,” says PTS Director, Dr Manuela Joannou. “These funds will allow us to offer help to more military and RCMP members and veterans who have sustained psychological injuries in the line of duty. This support will allow our network of PTS alumni across Canada to continue to grow and we look forward to seeing more peer support groups developing.”
Project Trauma Support includes follow-up care, and an invitation to join local peer support groups, which the program participants and volunteers are developing on an ongoing basis.
Over 250 men and women from across the country have completed the PTS program to date, and over half of those participants were military members or veterans.For more information on Project Trauma Support please visit: projecttraumasupport.com
Grants for living
Poppy Funds also help Veterans and their families with grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances, home repairs, emergency shelter and more.
In 2018, Dominion Command Service Officers alone issued $78,000 in benevolent funding to 76 Veterans. Many more are supported at the branch and command levels annually.
Financial assistance and housing accommodation
Unfortunately, many Veterans are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Poppy Funds are used to support housing accommodations that help Veterans off the streets.
The Poppy Fund also provides financial assistance for items like first and last month’s rent, rental arrears and furnishings.
The Royal Canadian Legion’s support of Cockrell House in Colwood, British Columbia, has helped Veterans find comfort, solace and a place to call home. Cockrell House provides safe, transitional housing and social services to help ex-military personnel integrate back into society. It is largely supported by the BC/Yukon Legion Foundation – helped by the Poppy Fund.
The Royal Canadian Legion also uses Poppy Funds to support the “Leave the Streets Behind” program.
“Leave the Streets Behind” is the Legion’s national homeless Veterans program that started out of Ontario Command. The program’s mission is to reach out to homeless Veterans and those at-risk of homelessness and provide them with immediate financial assistance and support. It also connects them with the social and community services to establish a long term solution to meet their needs.
While the “Leave the Streets Behind” program is operating in Ontario, British Columbia/Yukon, Alberta/North West Territories, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia/Nunavut and New Brunswick Commands, supports and services through the Legion are available for homeless and near-homeless Veterans and their families across the country.
Comforts for Veterans and their surviving spouses who are hospitalized and in need
The Legion is devoted to supporting the men and women who served our country, and the Poppy Fund helps us fulfil that support regularly.
Legion Branch 228 recently paid a visit to local retirement homes to present one-of-a-kind Quilts of Valour to retired veterans. The gifts were to provide warmth and comfort to our injured Armed Forces members and our Veterans.
Supporting the work of Legion Service Officers in assisting and representing Veterans
Donations to the Poppy Fund can help Legion Command Service Officers across Canada help Veterans with the assistance they need, free of charge.
This includes helping Veterans access mental health support or assisting with the disability claim processes.
Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Tom Manley, who was struggling with PTSD, credits The Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Fund for making a significant improvement in his life.
“I ended up going to the Royal Canadian Legion,” said Manley. “It was the Legion that started a series of interventions that ended up making a significant improvement in my life and I’m incredibly grateful for the Legion for everything that they did for me.”
Because of your generous donations, “The difference where [he is] today and where [he was], even a year ago, is night and day.”
“Wearing the poppy is a wonderful symbol of support but, at the end of the day, the support that the Legion provides to the veterans is invaluable and they can only do that with the money that they get from the Poppy Fund,” said Manley. “The help that I received was paid for directly by Canadians and Calgarians who, every year, put a dollar or two dollars in the poppy box.”
Tom’s story is just one from the many Veterans we are able to help through the Legion’s Command Service Officer Network.
Helping Other Veteran Support Organizations
Through generous donations to The Royal Canadian Legion Poppy Trust Fund, the Legion can provide funding to eligible organizations undertaking Veteran support initiatives, as outlined in the Poppy Manual.
Eligible organizations that provide support for Veterans and/or their families may apply for funding through the Legion. Find out more: https://www.legion.ca/remembrance/the-poppy-campaign/funding-for-organizations
Ready to support Canada’s Veterans?
There are many more ways the Poppy Fund can be used to help Canada’s Veterans. And your donations make all the difference.
Here’s what you can do to support Veterans and their families all year-long:
Donate at your local Branch: Beginning on October 25, 2019, Get Your Poppy! Donations made in the Poppy boxes in your area go directly to your local Branch’s Poppy Trust Fund.
Donate to the Poppy Fund: The Legion Dominion Command now accepts donations to the Poppy Fund online!
Source: Royal Canadian Legion