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RSA CENTENARY YEAR APPEAL RAISES NEARLY $2 MILLION

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Funds raised are being deployed by the RSA to assist current and former servicemen and women (including NZ Police), and their partners and dependants.

RSA 2016 Poppy Appeal helps support new generations of veterans

RSA Centenary Year appeal raises nearly $2 million

New Zealand’s Returned and Services Association (RSA) and its member clubs have today acknowledged the generosity of New Zealanders for their support of our current and former service men and women through the 2016 annual Poppy Appeal.

The RSA’s 2016 Poppy Appeal raised nearly $2 million and the funds raised are being deployed by the RSA to assist current and former servicemen and women (including NZ Police), and their partners and dependants.

RSA National President BJ Clark said the RSA is reliant on support from the public to maintain this vital work and the Poppy Appeal funds are used exclusively to provide welfare care and support to veterans and their families.

“100 percent of the Poppy Appeal funds 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,” he says.

RSA National Support Services Manager Mark Compain says the focus of this year’s Poppy Appeal, held in the week preceding Anzac Day, will be on the needs of Veterans of more recent conflicts, many of whom face major challenges as a result of the actions and circumstances they witnessed while serving New Zealand abroad.

Mr Compain, who served 21 years in the regular army including operational service in Bosnia, East Timor and Afghanistan, says it is critical that the RSA and New Zealand as a whole understand that younger veterans have been impacted by their service as much as their older predecessors were.

“New Zealand currently has about 41,000 veterans - 11,000 of those are from the period from WWII to Vietnam but there are another 30,000 who served in in New Zealand’s 42 overseas deployments since Vietnam.”

The RSA 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, ensuring support for returned servicemen or women suffering from conditions such as post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) and advocating for relevant research and services to address the health and wellbeing issues related to more recent veterans.

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.

Says BJ Clark: “We are grateful for the fantastic public support and for all the volunteers who contribute their time and efforts to our annual appeal. It is a vital part of caring for those who have served our country at home and overseas.”

Other highlights of the 2016 Poppy Appeal included:

  • The Poppy Appeal 2016 theme was Remember to Care, encouraging New Zealanders to honour those who have gone before by donating to the needs of current living veterans

  • A Poppy text appeal was introduced to help those who were not able to make a cash donation to text a donation; and a virtual poppy offering allowed those who donated online to receive an email with a Virtual Poppy image which they could share through email and social media

  • Funds collected in the Poppy Appeal were used to help an injured veteran get a specially-trained assistance dog. Veteran Dion Taka and his wife Frances are in line to be the first in New Zealand to take on a disability assistance dog specially trained to perform tasks and support a veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Injury or PTSI. Dion was seriously wounded in the Battle of Baghak in Afghanistan also suffers from chronic pain syndrome and PTSI.

  • RSA members including veterans and returned and service men and women were out in force on Poppy Day and were joined in the street appeal by members of the New Zealand Defence Force, volunteer collectors and other supporters including members of the US armed forces stationed at the US Embassy in Wellington.

  • The RSA Poppy Appeal was supported by a team of Poppy Appeal Ambassadors which included: former All Blacks captain and Royal New Zealand Navy service man Buck Shelford; NZDF Liaison Officer for Family of the Fallen Sergeant Tina Grant; actor and comedian Oscar Knightley; actress and star of ANZAC Girls Antonia Prebble; broadcaster Rachel Smalley; the founder of the Student Volunteer Army Sam Johnson; and film maker Sir Peter Jackson.

  • A 3D Poppy was trialled which allowed donors to make a $3 donation and receive the template for a 3D poppy which could be downloaded and printed out on a 3D Printer. This was supported by Wellington-based Makerspace.

  • The 2016 Appeal raised $1,900,952, a significant increase over the 2014 Appeal although down on the $2.5 million collected 2015, which coincided with the Centenary of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli.

    Mr Clark says planning is already underway for the 2017 Poppy Appeal and the RSA will continue to highlight the needs of veterans and service personnel of all ages, and their families.

    “It is fantastic that New Zealanders have such a strong connection with remembrance and strong desire to honour those who have served in past generations – especially with the focus currently on New Zealand’s remarkable service in World War One.

    “In 2017, we will be encouraging the public to act on that remembrance by giving generously to those who have served our country in more recent conflicts.”

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