A look at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 99

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By Sean Cann-Sheppard

BELLEVILLE – When we think about community service groups, we tend to think about the Salvation Army or United Way. More often than not, we don't think about our local Legion branch.

But Legion Branch 99 in Belleville has been serving both local veterans and the local community since their founding in 1927.

Current President of the branch, Andy Anderson has been involved as branch president for close to five years, though he has been with the Legion for many years prior.

Anderson says the main goal of the Legion is to look after veterans, old and young. This is done through various fundraisers, including a Poppy Campaign which last year raised over $40,000.

"That money is dedicated to the veterans," he said. "Either through veterans hospitals or if a veteran comes here with problems, we do our best to look after them,"

Branch 99 has over 440 members, and while it is open to veterans, much of their events are also open to the public as well, which includes weekly activities which take place predominately during the evening.

"We do a lot of sports in here," Anderson said. "Just about every night we have 14 dart boards and usually a good half of them are in use every night,"

"During the day and Tuesday afternoons, we have card games going on here," he said.

While some would think the majority of Legion members would come from a military background, Anderson says that's not always the case.

"The associate members can come from any walk of life," he said. "There's a lot of them that are lawyers, doctors, you name it,"

The majority of veterans at the Branch have ties to the Second World War and Korean conflicts, but there are a few members from recent missions such as Afghanistan.

Anderson has been trying to get more younger veterans to join the Branch, with some success.

"Right now we're putting on dances with bands that are inclined to be listened to by the younger generation," he said, joking that it doesn't do much for the older generation of veterans.

"Once they get in and they get an interest in here, perhaps they will consider joining,"

Anderson also expressed interest in getting currently serving members of the military, but said the challenges of doing so often produces poor results.

"They just get joined up and get involved and suddenly they're transferred somewhere else," he said.



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