The RCMP Veterans’ Association held its Executive Council and Annual General Meetings on June 2, 2017, in Charlottetown, PEI. This was the first modified AGM, held without a Convention and not hosted by a Division. PEI Division provided invaluable assistance to help make the event a success. The new model succeeded, and will be used in years where no Division wishes to host a full AGM/Convention.
The AGM itself, through the means of pre-distributed reports accepted by consent, and through e-voting, was rapidly and efficiently conducted in 40 minutes. Three resolutions of a housekeeping nature were adopted, and one Director was re-elected (Bob McKee – Vancouver Division) and two others elected (James Brown – Toronto Division; Steve Walker – Manitoba Division).
The highlight of the 2017 event was the Association Executive Council, at which Directors, Governors and Division Presidents debated ideas of a strategic nature for the future “Good of the Association.”
The opening remarks and interaction with the two keynote presenters – Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, General (retired) Walt Natynczyk; and RCMP Chief Human Resources Officer, Deputy Commissioner Dan Dubeau – set the stage for lively discussion.
RCMP VETERANS ARE VETERANS
Deputy Minister Natynczyk re-emphasized the fact that former members of the RCMP are “veterans” in every sense of that word, deserving of the VAC watchwords of “care, compassion and respect.” The RCMP Veterans’ Association is a key stakeholder representing the interests and promoting the concerns of RCMP Veterans. Issues such as mental health; seamless transition to civilian life; homelessness and veterans in crisis; disability and long-term care; and families, which affect all veterans, RCMP veterans included, were mentioned.
MORE THAN CONNECTION, A PARTNERSHIP
Deputy Commissioner Dubeau for his part emphasized the important partnership that now exists between the Force and the RCMP Veterans’ Association. Working together will bring mutually beneficial outcomes for serving Members and Employees, as they consider their lives after leaving the Force, as well as Veterans and families. “We will all be veterans one-day,” he said, and the Force will need to rely on the Association to maintain connection with the Veterans once they are no longer a part of the Force. This includes promotion of membership in the Association as part of the discharge procedure. A strong Association active all across Canada is vital to achieve this. He specifically mentioned that the Force will be establishing its own Operational Stress Injury (OSI) social support system, modelled on DND’s OSISS system and that will benefit Members and Veterans affected by OSI.
A panel composed of representatives from RCMP National Compensation Services (Superintendent Rich Boughen); RCMP Liaison with VAC (Sergeant Kim Hendricken); and the RC Legion Service Bureau (Ray McInnis) outlined the ways and means by which the services and supports needed by RCMP Veterans and families are provided. Activities such as mentoring, peer-to-peer counselling, mental health first aid, Road-to-Mental-Readiness (R2MR) training, and case management with VAC, including “My VAC Account,” were mentioned in this context.
The Commanding Officer of “L” Division, Chief Superintendent Joanne Crampton, who hosted a luncheon, provided an overview of the activities related to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry. She re-iterated the Force’s commitment that any Veteran who may be called to appear or testify before the Inquiry will be provided with legal representation by the Force.
HISTORY AND HERITAGE
The Corps Sergeant Major, Al McCambridge, was forceful and direct in noting the important role the RCMP Veterans’ Association plays in preserving the heritage and traditions of the Force, which can help inspire the serving Members and contribute to the public image of the Force, and thus help with recruiting. Activities such as the consecration and laying-up of the Regimental Guidon, the Generational and Territorial Service Insignia, and the Second Man Awards were cited as examples where RCMP Veterans’ Association input, assistance and action was sought, valued and included and which led or will lead to mutually beneficial outcomes. The CSM is committed to re-vitalizing the relationship between the Warrants and the RCMP Veterans’ Association Divisions, not only in matters of history, ceremony and recognition, but also in critical incident management, in particular activities related to donations and regimental funeral planning for Fallen Members.
THE FUTURE OF THE ASSOCIATION
The impressive senior-leadership presenters served to show the importance of the Association to the Veterans of tomorrow, as well as those of today and the past. The Force is changing, and the Association must change too to meet the need. Important strides have been made – the re-vamping of the website; and the establishment of a Board of Trustees for the re-named charity Maintiens Le Droit Trust Fund with renewed purposes (pending CRA approval), to name two. More will need to be done to capitalize on the single not-for-profit organization structure (not 30 separate “franchises”); to optimize the new spirit of partnership with the Force; and to make even more credible our stakeholder status with VAC, with other veterans organizations, and especially with RCMP Veterans who have not joined the Association or show little interest.
Discussion at the Association Executive-level focused on the need to rejuvenate the Association by means of re-engineering our membership and financial business models.
How do we boost membership? Are our categories of membership too restrictive? Are we excluding potential new members? Are we ready and prepared to welcome all who come, and can we clearly demonstrate the “value-added” of membership (e.g. Civilian Members)? Is the Association financially-sustainable or do we need to consider another funding model?
The back-and-forth that occurred will inform the new Board when it meets at the next strategic planning cycle.
AND ON TO WINNIPEG
Manitoba Division has graciously accepted to host the next AGM in Winnipeg in May of 2018. There we will see the fruits of our discussions in Charlottetown.
The future of our Association is bright. We have been around for 130 years, and we are not going away. Indeed, we are more important now than we have arguably ever been. We are seen by the Force and by VAC as “players” and as “partners.” We will need to step up and make our Association the best it can be to do what we were created to do – help RCMP Veterans and their families.