Royal Canadian Legion expels B.C. member for wearing unearned military commendations

‘Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong’

The Royal Canadian Legion says it has taken a landmark decision to expel two members for wearing military commendations they did not earn as the 95-year-old veterans’ organization crack downs on instances of “stolen valour.”

Legion dominion president Thomas Irvine would not identify the two members in an interview with The Canadian Press this week, except to say that one is from Ontario and the other from B.C. Each was given an opportunity to explain their actions before being expelled.

“The Legion has taken a big hit over the years on different cases of stolen valour, and justly so,” Irvine said of past criticisms the organization was not doing enough to curb such behaviour by members. “But I’m tired of it. We’ve got to put a stop to this.”

The wearing of unearned military medals and commendations has long been a sore point for serving military members and veterans. It is also an offence under the Criminal Code, with a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Police in Cornwall, Ont., last year charged a man, Terrance Birch, with wearing military medals he did not earn. He appeared in court in December and is due to re-appear for pre-trial motions on Feb. 5. Attempts to contact Birch were unsuccessful.

Not only do those who make illegitimate claims of military service or sacrifice degrade the honour of those who have served, Irvine said, they also tarnish the reputation of the Legion if they are members of the organization.

ALSO READ: B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

“Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong,” said Irvine, who was a military reservist for 23 years, including a peacekeeping tour in the Middle East. ”This kind of stuff has to stop within the legion, it’s got to stop, period, within Canada. It’s against the law.”

That is why he personally pushed for new bylaws and direction to punish those found to have claimed service or commendations falsely, Irvine said, which includes automatically expelling for life any members convicted under the Criminal Code of unlawfully wearing a military uniform or medal.

Stolen Valour Canada, an online group that uses social media to call attention to people alleged to have worn military medals and commendations they did not earn, applauded the legion’s decision to expel the two members and crack down on similar incidents.

“We remember the blood, sweat and tears that it took to earn a piece of metal attached to coloured ribbon, a strip of cloth or an embroidered badge, and that is why we get somewhat emotional about them,” Stolen Valour Canada said in an unsigned email.

“It’s really quite simple, if you didn’t earn it, don’t wear it.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Royal Canadian Legion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VicPD looking for 17-year-old girl, believed to be in downtown core

Circumstance under which she has gone missing are considered to be high-risk

Woman arrested for hit and run that left another vehicle in Colwood front lawn

The woman was issued a 24 hour driving prohibition and a ticket

New urgent, primary care health centre opens in Saanich come November

North Quadra area facility to provide same-day, ongoing care for folks without family doctors

McKenzie interchange project drives towards completion

Motorists asked to continue following construction zone signage as crews will be on site into the fall

Tour de Rock turns community bubble relay race amid pandemic

Alumni will take on socially distanced leg of race in their hometowns

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

One person dead in two-vehicle accident in North Island

Highway 19A was closed for several hours north of Courtenay following the crash

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

Long-term care need pressuring acute care in Comox Valley, Strathcona

Region could use a couple of large facilities for seniors on the north part of the Island

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

Most Read