The Royal Canadian Legion was founded by Veterans and for Veterans. We are a member-based organization and it is through our membership that we are able to provide the supports we do for Veterans and their families. However, we sometimes hear that the Legion is no longer relevant, or is not representing the needs of modern day Veterans. The fact is, this is their Legion… they have the power to make it relevant, and to be the change they want to see.
Within our ranks we have modern day Veterans who are making a difference through the Legion every day and are helping shape our future. Today we’d like to share a message from one of those members.
Craig Hood has served with the Canadian Armed Forces since 1990, and has been a Legion member for three years. Since joining the Legion, he has been a positive, outspoken voice for our cause. Whether at his Legion Branch, or on social media, or through his outreach work to Veterans, Craig has been showing young Veterans the Legion’s potential and encouraging them to be a part of the change.
Recently, Craig shared the message below on his Facebook page, and we’d like to help it reach a wider Veteran audience. We thank Craig, and others like him, who are working to ensure the Legion lives on in support of all Veterans.
Some of you may know that I have been advocating for vets to join The Royal Canadian Legion over the past 3 years. I have met some great people along the way. It has been reassuring to know that there are many modern vets that have taken on leadership roles within the Legion and others willing to step up and stand shoulder to shoulder.
Why is it so important to me? It’s simple really. The Legion is the largest vet organization of just under 300,000 members. 80% are veterans and their families and 20% are Canadians that want to help our vets but never served themselves. Last year, the Legion directly supported vets by putting $16 million dollars of Poppy funds directly into veteran’s pockets. Hundreds of vets each year use Legion Service Officers to fill out their claims with Veterans Affairs Canada. The Legion does a tremendous amount of work for veterans with one major flaw; they don’t brag. They quietly and steadfastly support vets every day. Even when vets bitch and complain about them. You want to complain about the Legion’s involvement with the New Veterans Charter? Sure. But don’t forget to spread the blame around to all the stakeholders. But before you do, ask yourself this. Do you honestly think that the Charter was created out of malice? Why was there a need if the Pension Act was so awesome?
You want to say the Legion is dying because there are less members than 20 years ago and some branches had to close? There were around 1.75 million vets in Canada after the Korean War. There are 700,000 vets in Canada today and that number won’t get bigger anytime soon. So, a retraction in Legion membership all of a sudden becomes logical.
Did the Legion treat the Korea vets and Cold War vets poorly? No. Vets treated vets poorly. We always have. Maybe our generation is the one that embraces all forms of service, in wartime or not.
Now you might be asking yourself, “Did Craig find a bottle of Slivovitz in the basement?” The answer is no, I barely drink. I am writing this because I am seeing the Legion make tremendous efforts to embrace all veterans. I have war-gamed this in my head and though some may disagree (it’s ok to be wrong), it would take decades to rebuild what the Legion has to offer. I can’t afford to let my comrades suffer for the purpose of rebuilding something, when all the Legion needs is a little effort from us.
So, what I am asking from all my veteran and still serving brothers and sisters is to take a small leap of faith. Join us and help ensure that the Legion lives on to support not only yesterday or today’s veterans, but tomorrow’s as well.
We all need this to happen. History has proven it.
- Craig Hood
BIOGRAPHY: Craig Hood, CD
Craig Hood joined the Canadian Armed Forces at the age of 16 in 1990 as a Reservist with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada, where he served as a paratrooper. In 1994, Craig component transferred to the Regular Force with the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. During his time with 2PPCLI, Craig served in Bosnia on Roto 0 of Operation PALLADIUM, Bosnia in 1997. He later returned to the Reserves where he moved up to the rank of Sergeant. During his Reserve service, Craig participated in Operation NANOOK in Resolute Bay, Operation CADENCE during the G8/G20 Summit, worked as a Canadian Ranger Instructor in the Arctic, and served as an Operational Mentor Liaison Team (OMLT) 2i/c on Task Force 3-08 Afghanistan. Craig continues to serve as a Reservist and has entered his 26th year, currently as the Recce platoon 2/i/c of The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada.
In 2014, Craig joined The Royal Canadian Legion at Branch 322 in Ajax, Ontario. Now in his 3rd year as a Legionnaire, he sees the Legion as an organization that truly has the capacity to supporting our Veterans. Craig is committed to promoting The Royal Canadian Legion to younger Veterans to ensure that the organization continues to survive and thrive for generations to come. One of the ways that he does this is through his Facebook page, Veterans for a Strong Royal Canadian Legion.
Craig is also the founder of the 32 Combat Brigade Group Veterans Well-Being Network which has expanded to cover the country and provides peer to peer support and referrals to Legion services. In 2015, Craig received the Minister of Veteran Affairs Commendation for his outreach work to Veterans.
In civilian life, Craig enjoys his time with his partner Cheryl and step daughters Danielle and Julia along with their cat, Storm and their dog Recce. He is also an HVAC/Hydronics System Consultant for Belyea Bros. Limited in Toronto, Ontario. Craig’s hobbies include hunting, fishing and getting through the winter months by scale model building.