The Royal Canadian Legion is the largest, veteran-based community service organization in Canada, mandated by its members to care for the needs of veterans, service members and their families. The Legion's flagship in this endeavour is the Veterans' Service Bureau, a network of approximately 1,600 volunteers and professionals working at branches, provincial commands and Dominion Command to secure pensions and benefits for veterans.
The Royal Canadian Legion Service Bureau was founded after the First World War to help veterans obtain the federal government pensions to which they were entitled. Funded in part by donations made during the annual National Poppy Campaign, the Service Bureau has been in existence ever since, providing no-cost assistance to ex-service men and women, Legion members and non-members alike.
Although the number of Canada's World War and Korean War veterans are decreasing—the average age is now 84 for WW II veterans and 77 for Korean War veterans—there are still more than 250,000 veterans in Canada; their demands and those of their dependants are ever increasing. Canada's veterans, serving military and RCMP members and their dependants require assistance, in fact, the Legion Service Officers are dealing with younger applicants every day, some of whom are still in their 20s.
Regardless of whether they have war-time service, such as those who served in the Gulf War or in United Nations special duty areas, all armed forces members may be eligible for disability pensions or disability awards for injuries or disabilities attributable to military service. The Service Officers help these men and women, as well as older veterans, at the community level as well as at all levels of the often daunting maze of government legislation and regulations. They also represent veterans
and still serving members, including RCMP members, before the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB).
Military and RCMP service is generally considered to be more dangerous than most occupations.
As many as 36 Canadian military personnel were killed on duty in 2006, at home and abroad. The need to assist these people and their dependants will continue to challenge the Service Bureau long after the traditional war veterans have passed on. In fact, the Service Bureau will become one of the major legacies left by Canada's first veterans to the future generations of service members.
To sustain this operation the Legion spends in excess of three million dollars each year.