The RSA is asking people at Christmas to pause for a moment and raise their glasses to New Zealand Defence Force personnel serving overseas.
RSA Chief Executive, David Moger, says, while New Zealanders are carving the Christmas ham, more than 120 personnel are helping to make our world a safer place in hotspots around the globe.
“This year I’m pausing to raise my glass to all those who’ve served and I particularly remember those currently posted overseas and what they are achieving,” he says.
Chief of Army, MAJGEN Dave Gawn (centre), helping to pack boxes with Kaitlyn Jorgefsen (left) and Beth Alofaifo (right).
“I invite all New Zealanders to join me and do the same.”
“We all recognise the service and sacrifice of our military personnel but, at Christmas, it becomes even more personal when they’re overseas away from family and friends,” he says.
“They are playing an important role in an increasingly volatile world.”
There are currently 125 military personnel from the three services deployed on 12 operations and United Nations missions across 13 countries including Afghanistan, South Korea, Antarctica, South Sudan, Sinai and the Middle East.
For nearly 100 years, RSA Christmas parcels have been sent to military personnel overseas and this year is no different. In September, children from Mount Cook School in Wellington joined with the RSA and the New Zealand Defence Force including the Chief of Army, Major General Dave Gawn, to help pack the Christmas parcels.
Inside are Kiwi classics such as Marmite, reduced cream and onion soup mix, Anzac biscuits and Raro juice packets as well as messages and cards from local primary school children.
“It can be difficult being away from your loved ones and there’s nothing like receiving a message or gift from New Zealand,” Major General Gawn commented. “The parcels will help bring a bit of home to our deployed personnel during the Christmas season.”
RSA National President, BJ Clark, saw service overseas and warmly remembers receiving Christmas parcels in Antarctica, Moscow and the Sinai Peninsula.
“The parcels were a real reminder of home and they meant a huge amount to me. It was gratifying to know we were being remembered back in New Zealand,” he says.
“Our troops are doing a great job in often difficult circumstances and these parcels are a small token of the RSA’s appreciation for their services.”
The RSA is aware that the care packages are warmly received. Earlier this year it received a letter of appreciation from personnel serving in Afghanistan.
“As winter sets in here and Christmas approaches, our thoughts often return to friends and family back in New Zealand. Your care package was a thoughtful reminder from home,” the letter said.
“Some of us have regularly been deployed overseas. For others it is their first Christmas away. Regardless, all of the team have been very thankful for your efforts.”
Generous funding contributions from local RSAs, Countdown and the Navy, Army and Air Force Welfare funds enable the parcels to be sent each year.