Members of Legion Branch 177 show off the newly-released Military Service Recognition Book, now in its fifth volume, with Little Current head librarian Karen Gallo. From left is John Chapman, Catherine Morrison, Paul Abbott, Ruth Eadie and Sue Morin. photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT—The Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command’s Military Service Recognition Book (MSRB) is now available in its fifth edition but its future depends on submissions from the community.

“Each year, the number has decreased and at present only 135 submissions have been received for next year’s volume. There will be room for 600-700 entries thus we are concerned with having enough entries to justify another volume next year and that would be a shame,” says Roy Eaton, MSRB chair for District H.

The MSRB is a book that features short biographies of veterans with ties to District H. Family and friends of veterans can submit their stories free of charge to be included in the book. Each spread is made up of one page of advertisements and one page of veteran biographies. For every page of advertising, three veterans can be featured.

“We use it as a fundraiser for the provincial command and to support veterans programs across the province,” says Mr. Eaton. “Completing an application honours a loved one’s service and, in addition, each volume provides funds to support current veterans in time of need.”

The MSRB program began in Newfoundland and has since spread to all provinces except Quebec, mainly due to their French language, according to Ontario Command MSRB chair Ron Goebel.

Mr. Goebel writes in an email that the fundraising has greatly benefited the Legion but there are major challenges ahead.

“Although we are doing well financially, I wish I could say the same about the number of submissions that we have been receiving for our books. In fact, we are now in somewhat of a crisis regarding submissions,” states Mr. Goebel.

According to his figures, District H has received 3,667 submissions to date, but the majority of those came during the first two years of the program. Each edition can hold about 700 biographies and, while the first five editions have been filled, there are only 135 biographies left to fit into next September’s edition.

The problem lies not in the number of stories to be told. Mr. Eaton says that although it is nearly impossible to determine the true number of veterans in Canada, well over one million Canadians are thought to have served in the Second World War alone.

“So many submissions were received in the first years that it took up to four years to publish all of them. This led to some people being discouraged, and each year the number of new submissions decreased,” says Mr. Eaton.

These books are available free of charge to anyone who is interested in the individuals who have fought for Canada. Profits are garnered through selling advertisements within the book.

“During the past two months, monies from the program in the total of $60,200 was donated for three various veteran transition programs,” states Mr. Eaton.

The three programs involve a support system for dealing with trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a service to help wounded, injured or disabled veterans recover and a group that offers adventures and peer support to help reduce the effects of stress.

Stories in the book come from friends, relatives and family members of those who have served, as well as veterans themselves. There is no charge to submit a story. Mr. Eaton says any submissions received soon are “virtually guaranteed” to be included in the sixth volume.

Story submissions can be dropped off at one’s local Legion branch. The cut-off for the upcoming September edition is May 31, 2019. Branch 177 in Little Current is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 4 pm until close.

There is a submission form on the Ontario Command website that must be included when the story is dropped off at the Legion. Mr. Eaton encourages anyone interested in the program to contact Branch 177 after 4 pm between Tuesday and Saturday at 705-368-2661.

Businesses interested in placing an advertisement in the province-wide book are requested to contact Ontario Command. This year’s run was 15,000 copies distributed across Ontario.