Michael Henderson with the Kelowna Naval Veterans Association carries a white cross at he 2017 Remembrance Day ceremonies in Peachland. (Image: Carmen Weld/Black Press)

Kelowna veteran’s association struggles with dwindling membership

Like many veteran’s associations, the aging population leaves the Kelowna Naval Veterans Association desperate for new members.

This Nov. 11 will mark 100 years since the end of the First World War; 100 years since tens of thousands of Canadians died on the battlefield.

It also marks another remembrance day where the onlookers and supporters far outnumber the veterans in attendance. Each and every year we lose more veterans to age and each and every year the organizations that support them lose numbers. They lose members, support and hope.

The plight of many veteran’s organizations and legions is being felt more than ever before as their membership numbers dwindle.

Once such organization is the Kelowna Naval Veterans Association. Once boasting more than 160 members, their numbers have dwindled to just 37, and they’re now desperate for fresh blood to carry on the legacy.

Once full of Second World War veterans, the group has a handful still alive from the world wars.

Former president and director for national for the Kelowna Naval Vets Association, Michael Henderson, says their group ranges in age from 30 to 94, but getting new bodies in the door is an ongoing struggle.

“We have a really hard time recruiting younger members. We have a lot of people asking questions, but we cannot get them out,” said Henderson.

“They’ve just served perhaps and they need time off from the forces. Legions, the army and navy club we are all struggling.”

Related: Lions Clubs dying out with aging population

Related: Kelowna veterans’ affairs office to re-open in November

He says the veterans association provides them a safe space, camaraderie and lifelong friendships.

“This is all about fellowship. We tell lies and stories and we talk about what we’ve all done, where we served. The fellowship and talking about the navy,” said Henderson. “We are all good friends, we help each other.”

He believes some of the new Canadian veterans are not joining these organizations when they are younger as they often need a break from service.

“They’ve served, they need time,” said Henderson. “Just like me. I didn’t do anything for 30 years after I got out. Once you’re in it, you don’t want anything to do with it for awhile. Then they come back later on, like I did.”

To ensure longevity, the Kelowna Naval Veterans Association is welcoming anyone with a grandparent/parent who served in the navy, or anyone who was a genuine love of the sea and an interest in the armed forces.

“At one time you had to be ex-navy, but we have opened our doors,” said Henderson, “You have to an interest in the ocean or a parent/grandparent who was in the service.”

If you want more information on the Kelowna Naval Association you can contact Michael Henderson at weeangus@telus.net.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Nomination date set for Kelowna- Lake Country Conservatives

March 2 is the deadline for anyone who wants to run for the federal nomination

Rutland pride spills over

Reaction to a story this weekend was clear and worth a second read

Benches made from wood that posed a fire risk in Lake Country

The parks team is making benches from the trees removed from the Jack Seaton Park

Family Day move a welcome change: poll

Okanagan readers voted that the new date for Family Day in B.C. is a positive change

Huge crack and bang heard as Wood Lake fractures

‘It was roaring across the lake,’ Lake Country woman recounts sound of crack in Wood Lake ice

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

B.C. father and sons launch new trunk-sharing system, ‘Trunkit’

Smiths say peer-to-peer shipping service offers an affordable, green alternative

Lost a ring? This B.C. man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

Salmon Arm’s Laura Hall on bronze-winning skating squad

Hall’s team placed third in long track team pursuit at the Canada Winter Games

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

Review: Joie de Vivre a celebration of homegrown talent

The Okanagan Symphony Orchestra concert featured Ernst Schneider

Bashful Balladeers bring voices to Vernon

Despite hiding behind masks, talent shines with this group

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Most Read