- The Legion is a member of The Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL) which supports veterans and ex-service members in present and former Commonwealth countries
- Originally (1921)—British Empire Services League;, 1958—became British Commonwealth Ex-Services League (BCEL); 2002—dropped 'British' from its title;, 2003—'Royal' was added to its title
- 57 ex-service organizations from 47 Commonwealth/former Commonwealth countries helping to meet charitable objectives
- 1966—Legion established RCEL Welfare Fund to coordinate and assist member organizations in the Caribbean area
- Fund is administered by Legion's RCEL (Canada) Committee, assists in 15 Caribbean countries to over 375 destitute war veterans, widows and dependants as well as providing needed adequate housing, Poppy materials and campaigns and organizational assistance
- Surplus eyeglasses, medical equipment and clothing collected and shipped to those in need as well as emergency funds (app. $300,000 in recent years) in the wake of natural disasters
- Legion works closely with the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Forces, the Salvation Army and other agencies; advocates for them at local and national levels of government
As a member of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-services League (RCEL), The Royal Canadian Legion helps support veterans and ex-service members of the Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries. Formed in 1921 as the British Empire Services League, in 1958 it became the British Commonwealth Ex-Services League (BCEL) and in 2002 dropped the word British from its title.
The word Royal was added in 2003. It is a union of 57 ex-service organizations from 47 Commonwealth and former Commonwealth countries that promotes the welfare of Commonwealth veterans and their dependents while helping them to meet their own charitable objectives.
At the time of its formation, the League's goals were similar to those of other ex-service organizations being formed in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and
Canada. However, League members accepted the challenge of meeting the needs of ex-service personnel in areas where no national veterans' organizations existed. The League still strives to provide assistance to all who served the Commonwealth during wartime.
Any person who has served in the military of a Commonwealth force is eligible for RCEL assistanceas well as those who served afloat with the merchant navies of Commonwealth countries during hostilities. Eligibility also extends to dependants.
The primary objects of the RCEL are simple. They are:
- to seek to ensure that no Commonwealth ex-service man or woman or their dependants shall be without help when in need; and,
- to promote the welfare of Commonwealth ex-service men and women throughout the Commonwealth by assisting any veterans' organization that is a member of the League to carry out their charitable activities and encourage the various organizations to cooperate.
Direct assistance and funding comes from the 57 member organizations around the world.
The more wealthy nations, of course, bear the lion's share of the funding challenge mainly through affiliation fees, direct contributions and appeals, such as the recent Prince Philip Appeal.
A number of years ago it was decided that The Royal Canadian Legion could be most effective, as an RCEL member, if it were to assume a special relationship and specific responsibility for veterans and their dependants in the Caribbean. As a result, the role of The Royal Canadian Legion, within the League, is to look after the interests of veterans in the Caribbean area. Having made the commitment, and using donations from Legion branches, the RCEL Welfare Fund was established.
In all, 14 of the RCEL's locations are in the Caribbean. They are:
- Cayman Islands
- St. Kitts
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turks and Caicos Islands
Legion funds used to support these programs come from the membership through direct
donations, or, on occasion, a small levy on each poppy sold to branches - and general Dominion Command funds. The fund is administered by the Legion's RCEL (Canada) Committee and assists veterans in the 15 countries in the Caribbean region. Administrative overhead is minimal and care is taken to ensure the funds disbursed are not misused. The average value of these annual grants is between and $200 and $1,000.
Providing individual assistance for more than 375 destitute war veterans, their widows and dependents is the primary goal of the committee. The fund can also be used to help provide; adequate housing for those in need, poppy materials to assist in Remembrance and Poppy Campaigns at the local level, and support to the organizations in managing the affairs of their veterans. Clothing, eyeglasses and surplus medical equipment are also collected for shipment to those in need.
The frequency of tropical storms, hurricanes and natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions, and the resulting devastation, also calls for the allocation of emergency funds to help veterans. Without the emergency relief provided by the RCEL Committee, many veterans would be unable to afford the material required to rebuild after tropical storms, or other disasters.
Special welfare projects, sanctioned by the RCEL Standing Committee on Welfare Projects (SCOWP) may be funded on a cost-sharing basis by the local group, RCEL Headquarters and the Legion. These projects enable recipient organizations to achieve greater self-sufficiency and raise funds to help needy comrades. This category also includes projects to provide housing for sick and homeless veterans.
The Legion also works in cooperation with the Canadian International Development Agency, the Canadian Forces, the Salvation Army and other agencies to deliver services to Caribbean veterans, and advocates for them through approaches to local and national governments.
The Royal Canadian Legion is committed to supporting the objects of the RCEL. The funds used in all efforts in the most recent years is approximately $300,000. Through participation in their programs the Legion does much to improve the lives of the less fortunate among the Caribbean's veteran population.