Many remain active at local Legion branches
By Mark Newman
Their numbers once totalled more than a million from all walks of life.
Now, according to March 2012 numbers from Veterans Affairs Canada, about 107,000 Second Word War veterans are still with us. Their average age is 88.
While they are getting on in years, many remain active at Legion branches in the Hamilton area.
“We maybe have 10 or 20 or so,” said Murray Brown, president of Mount Hamilton Branch 163 of the Royal Canadian Legion.
Of those, Brown noted, about 10 visit the Mountain branch regularly, including a well-known group of vets who drop by what is known as the BS table each day to play dominos.
Brown said the Mountain Legion has about 1,000 members. Most of them are affiliate or associate members, rather than actual war veterans or men and women who have served in uniform.
Over at the Battlefield branch 622 of the RCL in Stoney Creek, president Joyce Brown said about 35 or 36 of their 645 members are Second World War veterans.
“Some of them are very active,” Brown noted. “They volunteer for numerous things.”
Brown said membership at the Stoney Creek branch has remained stable as younger veterans are replacing the older ones who pass on.
“Some are your Afghanistan vets and your Vietnam vets and children of vets,” Brown said.
According to Department of National Defence statistics from August, the number of Canadian Afghanistan veterans stands at just more than 41,000.
Overall, there are nearly 600,000 Canadian Forces veterans across the country with an average age of 55.
In addition, about 10,600 surviving Korean War veterans are in Canada with an average age of 80 and as many as 125,000 Canadians who served on peacekeeping missions over five decades ranging in age from 25 to 87.
As many as 30,000 Canadians fought in Vietnam as part of the American military.