The campaign for veterans

Royal Bank of Canada branch manager Greg Erman (left) and manager of client care Lynne Regnier present Marie Mathers with a cheque for the Homeless Veterans Fund. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

For 37 years, Marie Mathers has been active in the Royal Canadian Legion, however it wasn’t until a year ago that she noticed a disturbing trend.

Every December, Mathers and her son would serve Christmas dinner to a variety of Prince Albert’s poorest residents, many of them homeless. She began to notice a number of veterans among them.

“It felt really hard to see so many have neglected their lives, and that so many people frown on them,” Mathers said.

Although she wanted to do something right away, Mathers had a struggle of her own to deal with. She was fighting off cancer.

Once she was cancer free she donated more and more of her time to helping homeless Prince Albert veterans. There were nine that she knows of, although two have since reconnected with their families. Most of the veterans are younger or middle aged, and a high number of them are former peacekeepers.

“Those veterans, we owe them a lot,” Mathers said. “If we didn’t have them we wouldn’t have a free country.”

As part of the process, Mathers and other local legion members have been campaigning for the Homeless Veterans Fund. Since Jan. 27, all 171 legion branches across Saskatchewan have been accepting donations of essential items like like gloves, mittens, toques, blankets, towels, shampoo, soap and restaurant gift certificates. Financial donations are also being accepted.

For the rest of this article, please see the March 1 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.