PEMBROKE -- During a time when Royal Canadian Legions across the country are struggling, it was another punch in the gut for the Pembroke Legion Thursday morning.

Members arrived to find graffiti spray-painted on the building and dumpster, and the patio tent at the back of the building torn down and dragged half way into the neighbouring yard.

"It really really makes me feel really bad that somebody would come and do this to a veteran’s home," says Stan Halliday, President of the Pembroke Legion.

"What makes me upset is them coming on veterans’ house land and destroying anything. I don’t care if it’s a tree, anything."

The graffiti appears to be the word “sparce” tagged on the legion’s back door, kitchen door, and dumpster. It’s a marking police in Pembroke are not familiar with and say is still up for interpretation given the style and font.

"Not only is it graffiti, a nuisance, and an eye sore, it’s a criminal offence. And under the criminal code it’s mischief," says OPP Const. Shawn Peever. "These things cost the legion money. It’s certainly not a good time for this legion or any legion with the pandemic. So it’s just an added expense and an incurred cost that certainly is not good timing for them."

Halliday says a lot of effort was put into tearing down their patio tent, which has been used to seat extra members for meals during the pandemic. "(They) thought it was the storm, the wind. But no storm would blow that over. It’s three parts of an army tent, three sections, no."

There has already been a positive community response to the vandalism. The Dulux Paint store on Pembroke Street West is offering free paint, brushes, and other materials to the legion in order to clean up the mess. It’s a gesture welcomed by Halliday, and shows how connected the community is to the legion.

"You’re at the mercy of the courts with whatever they deem to be the correct punishment, but you could certainly end up with a criminal record for this," Peever responded when asked what type of consequences the culprits of the vandalism could face. Halliday is hoping the punishment will fit the crime.

"I don’t know what they can do but you know what I would really like, come and paint it, the guys that did it."