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Saskatchewan legions continue the fight for veterans, province offering funding

The Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program helps tackle much-needed repairs and upgrades to buildings and equipment through grant funding.
The Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program helps tackle much-needed repairs and upgrades to buildings and equipment through grant funding. File / Global News

Despite the province’s effort to financially support Royal Canadian Legions in Saskatchewan, some organizations are still having a hard time staying afloat.

“There are other legions that are struggling just as much or more than we are,” said Ron Hitchcock, Royal Canadian Legion Branch 001 president.

“We’re lucky we live in Regina and have a big enough populous that can give us some money.”

The province committed $100,000 to Saskatchewan Veterans Service Club Support Program in their 2019-20 budget, offering grants to 25 non-profit military service clubs.

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The grant program supports organizations such as the Royal Canadian Legion and Saskatchewan Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans (ANAVETS). It was put in place to help ease the costs of repairs and upgrades to their buildings and equipment.

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“There’s so many legions and only so much money, so we were denied,” Hitchcock said.

“We’re not totally disappointed, other legions will benefit from it and maybe next year there will be more funds.”

At one point, worried about its future, Hitchcock said Branch 001 benefited from a strong year of fundraising.

“The citizens of Regina have been generous in helping when we made them aware that we needed the legion to stay open to help veterans,” Hitchcock said.

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“And to also make sure they’re taken care of and the programs they utilize are still available for them.”

Like Hitchcock, Keith Andrews, Royal Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command president, said every bit counts and appreciates the help from the province.

“These funds have been put to good use across the province and have provided sustainability to branches and units,” Andrews said. “We thank the provincial government for honouring the sacrifices of those who provided us with our freedom.”

Hitchcock said all the legions rely heavily on their annual poppy campaign and encourage people to continue their support.

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“The poppy is a symbol, a symbol of sacrifice that others showed on our behalf so we can enjoy the choices that we have today,” Hitchcock said.

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“Everything we are doing is for veterans.”

The province showed more support on Wednesday as Premier Scott Moe laid a wreath at the Saskatchewan War Memorial outside the legislature building following a service inside, commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War.

“That’s the prime focus of these events so that people don’t forget the price that has been paid to these lessons of the past,” Moe said.

“You don’t want to repeat it, but you can’t help, but not forget it. That’s the role of days like today.”