Members of General Alexander Ross Branch 77 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Yorkton have been advised that financial support will be coming their way through the Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund (VOESF), a program of Veterans Affairs Canada. The VOESF provides grants to non-profit and registered charitable organizations that support veterans and their families, according to a release. The grants are intended to help organizations with operational costs and financial shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“General Alexander Ross Branch 77 of the Royal Canadian Legion is pleased to announce it has received some welcome financial assistance from the federal government to help cope with the pandemic,” said Ken Gordon, branch president. “Our branch has received $15,000 after requesting it through an application process involving our Dominion and Provincial Commands.”
Ten branches of the Royal Canadian Legion located within Yorkton-Melville will receive a combined total of $101,091. In addition to General Ross Alexander Branch 77, also receiving funding are:
- Foam Lake—$13,585
- Quill Lake—$10,000
Cathay Wagantall, Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville, also sits on the Standing Committee for Veterans Affairs. Wagantall said she is very pleased to see government support coming to assist Legions with the work they do to support veterans, having heard first-hand of the challenges facing our veterans.
“In my work with the Standing Committee for Veterans Affairs, I receive calls from veterans from right across Canada who are seriously struggling, mentally and financially,” said Wagantall in the release. “Many feel abandoned by their government due to a backlog of outstanding disability claims and issues with other services, but the one place those veterans can continue to turn to is the Legion.”
Wagantall said at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, the executive director of the Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command testified about the efficient work being done to care for the immediate needs of our veterans.
According to Wagantall, Executive Director Chad Wagner said Saskatchewan Command has the ability to assist quickly in areas that might not be as easy to access on a federal level.
“Mr. Wagner testified they can have a veteran come into their office at 10 a.m. in need of shelter, food or medical attention. Throughout their various networks – be it Social Services, Legion branches or various service groups – they can have housing established, food provided, and usually a stream of income through Social Services, plus they can set up medical appointments and start the process for Veterans Affairs benefit claims, all by the end of the day. It's all in the process and removing barriers, and it starts with empowering the front line.
“The caring and efficient work of our Saskatchewan Command and local Legions is, and could be, even more significant in ensuring immediate emergency support and timely care for our veterans and their families, if the process was less onerous,” said Wagantall.
VOESF’s entire aid package was totaled at $20 million, with $14 million of that allocated to Legion branches across Canada. Legions had an opportunity to apply for first-round funding in November and December, with an addition call for applications from Legions anticipated in January.
“The funds received by General Alexander Ross Branch 77 will be used to help with the costs of our everyday operational expenses, allowing us to continue our commitment to assist veterans, their families and our community,” said Gordon. “Lest We Forget.”