Posted on 27 December 2012 by Keith Lacey
To be one of only 700 members of the Royal Canadian Legion (RCL) to receive a national commendation for dedication and commitment to the organization is an accomplishment Richard Lundin will never forget.
“It was a very proud and special moment for me,” said Lundin, who attended a special ceremony in Vancouver the second week in December to receive the Minister of Veteran Affairs Commendation. “This award has only been handed out to 700 members of the Royal Canadian Legion since it was initiated back in 2001 so to join that special group is something I’m very proud of.”
The commendation is awarded to individuals who have performed commendable service to the veteran community and/or individuals who represent commendable role models for their fellow veterans.
Lundin, who is the regional zone commander of the legion for the South Okanagan-Similkameen zone, joined the Canadian military as a young man and served three years. He joined the legion within days of leaving the service and has been a proud and active member for the past 48 years.
“I joined the legion the day I turned 21,” he said proudly. “In those days it was the thing to do, especially if you were ex-military. Everyone joined the legion back in those days. It was a great organization then and it remains a great organization to this day.”
Lundin has volunteered his time for several years volunteering countless hours acting as a surveyor in long-term care facilities in the Okanagan Valley.
Lundin has also attended Remembrance Day ceremonies faithfully over the past five decades and is a member of the local Legion Poppy Committee and has been on the executive committees of RCL branches for many years.
He helps with the organization of the annual Veterans Dinner at Branch 173 in Osoyoos, where he’s often seen donning a chef’s hat while preparing the meal. He was also instrumental in renaming a local park in Osoyoos to Veterans Park and renaming a street in Oliver to Veterans Way in recognition of all veterans in the South Okanagan.
During the ceremony in Vancouver, 12 loyal members of the RCL were honoured with the same commendation.
Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, presented these individuals with the Minister of Veteran Affairs Commendation.
“Today, our government is proud to recognize a number of outstanding individuals who devote their lives to honouring the sacrifices and contributions of our nation’s heroes,” said Blaney. “These are men and women who, through their selfless dedication, have had a positive impact on the lives of veterans and in celebrating the incredible achievements of our veterans.”
The commendation includes a bar, which can be worn below official decorations on a recipient’s blazer, a lapel pin for civilian wear and a certificate signed by Blaney.
The commendation is intended primarily for veterans, but in some circumstances may also be awarded to non-veterans. Nominations may be submitted at any time and are reviewed annually by an advisory committee.
Queen Elizabeth II approved the design of the special bar to be worn with decorations to be known as the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation back in the spring of 2001.
The design is a gold medal leaf resting on a red poppy, a flower long associated with the sacrifices of war, with the Royal Crown on the top of the pin.
The gold bar is to be worn on veterans’ blazers and formal wear on occasions when it is appropriate for medals to be worn, while the lapel pin may be worn at any time on civilian clothing.
Among his many activities with the RCL, Lundin is most proud of his years of work volunteering to meet with and talk to veterans who live in long-term care facilities.
“There are two of us here in Osoyoos who have received the training from Veterans Affairs,” said Lundin. “Wayne Knight and I have been designated to visit with veterans throughout the Okanagan Valley, so we spend a lot of our free time going to these facilities and conducting surveys with our veterans.
“I’ve travelled from Trail to Princeton and every town in between over the past four years talking to upwards of 300 veterans. I conduct what’s called a satisfaction survey and ask them if all their needs are being met. Veterans Affairs want to make sure all the needs of our veterans are taken care of and if they have complaints, then they will take action.”
Lundin said he has been proud to be an RCL member for almost 50 years and especially proud of the work done by the Osoyoos branch since he joined almost 20 years ago.
“We do good work here in Osoyoos and legion members do great work all over Canada,” he said.