Thousands of volunteers, including many NZDF members, will be out in full force on Poppy Day this Friday collecting funds for the Returned and Services Association (RSA) Poppy Appeal.
Tina Grant, whose husband was killed in service in Afghanistan, says the RSA plays an important role in supporting the families of New Zealand’s service personnel.
Funds raised from the Poppy Appeal are used by the RSA to all assist current and former servicemen and women (including NZ Police), and their partners, dependants and widow/widowers, with or without operational service overseas.
RSA National Support Services Manager, Mark Compain says: “100 percent of the Poppy Appeal donations go towards our support services – that is, helping improve the quality of life of these people, whether or not they are members of the RSA.”
Tina Grant says: “Poppy Day for me is about those who have gone before us and remembering those left behind. It encompasses our Fallen, those currently serving and the families left to get on with their lives.”
“Poppy Day is also an opportunity to educate and to continue to remember our brave fallen, for our future generations. As a serving soldier, a mother and a widow it is my responsibility to keep memories of my husband alive for his children, his family and his comrades. It is a time to recognise the sacrifices that not only the soldier committed to but to the families who continued to struggle with daily life without them by our sides and in our lives.
“The Poppy signifies to me, not sadness or a reminder of blood that was shed but the beautiful, vibrant lives and memories that have been left for us to remember. Give generously for those left behind, our veterans of whom some still struggle with daily life, our children who continue to live without a parent and not knowing what could have been and our families who continue to struggle without their loved ones.”
Mark Compain, who served 21 years in the regular army, including operational service in Bosnia, East Timor and Afghanistan said: “Many current servicemen and women don’t realise RSA support is available to them too.
“New Zealand currently has 31,000 veterans – 11,000 from the period from WWII to Vietnam and 20,000 who served in campaigns post-Vietnam.
“We do work with a lot of elderly veterans but we are also working extensively with people who served in later campaigns and with post-Vietnam service people, some in their late teens and twenties.
“Our support ranges from individual grants to alleviate need and hardship (for example, helping younger veterans re-train in other fields), developing family support for current serving NZDF personnel, and advocating for relevant research and health measures to improve the health and wellbeing of more modern veterans.”
“We also assist veterans’ access to treatment and rehabilitation from Veterans’ Affairs, and advocate on their behalf.”
Poppy Appeal funds also cover scholarships and other support for dependants of veterans, recognising that the families of people who have served our country have also made sacrifices.
“We thank our collectors for their hard work, and the New Zealand public for their ongoing support in honouring our service people by giving a donation and wearing an RSA poppy.”
This year’s Poppy Appeal street collections will be on Friday 15 April but fundraising will continue until Anzac Day, 25 April.
Members of the public can support the appeal by making a donation to a Street Appeal collector on Friday 15 April. Z service stations throughout the country will also have supersized poppies available to display on cars or windows. To digitally donate, people can contribute $3 by texting POPPY to 4662, or online at www.rsa.org.nz/donation