Okanagan Royal Canadian Legion branches have launched their annual fundraising campaigns. In Kelowna, Ross Carviel, chairman of the Kelowna poppy campaign, checks poppy trays at Branch 26 during a breakfast to launch the fundraiser.
Second World War vets, most of whom are well into their 90s, routinely access the kind of medical equipment available at Legion branches.
"We have crutches, canes, wheelchairs, scooters, and hearing aids available for vets," Ross Carviel, chairman of the Kelowna poppy campaign, said Friday.
But many younger vets also benefit from the funds raised by the poppy and wreath campaigns, Carviel said. For example, veterans of Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan are increasingly using services to help them deal with post-traumatic stress disorder, Carviel said.
Some money raised by the campaign in Kelowna and other Valley communities helps pay for such programs. Other funds are used for scholarship and bursaries for the families of veterans.
In rare instances, veterans who have fallen on hard financial times may get a direct grant to help them out, Carviel said.
Services provided to veterans by the Legion are intended to supplement those programs and supports available through the federal Department of Veterans' Affairs.
Each year, the Kelowna poppy drive raises about $130,000. The ratio of approximately one dollar from every citizen during the two-week campaign is among the highest of any community in Canada. In recent years, the Penticton poppy drive has raised $25,000-$30,000.
Across Canada, the poppy campaign annually raises about $14 million for services for veterans.
Meanwhile in Kamloops, where one of two dollar stores that at first refused to sell poppies on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion has reversed its position.
The president of the Army, Navy & Air Force Veterans in the area raised the complaints about Dollar Tree and Dollarama stores refusing to allow the sale of the poppies on the grounds that it was company policy.
Gord Marsh called the move inexcusable and an insult to veterans whose sacrifice has made Canada a great place to live and do business.
He points out the poppy campaign raises badly needed funds for veterans' rehabilitation and other programs.
While the Dollarama store has not backed down, Inga Kruse, the legion's B.C. and Yukon executive director, says Dollar Tree says it will now allow the sale of the poppies at its store.
Kruse says she hasn't been told if other dollar stores in the province have a policy of refusing to sell poppies.