Poppy Day a boost for vets

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

The Auck­land RSA wants to thank Auck­lan­ders for giv­ing gen­er­ously on Poppy Day in April.

This year the an­nual ap­peal raised $75,000, up from $51,000 last year.

“We want to thank peo­ple for their gen­eros­ity on Poppy Day,” says pres­i­dent Paul Monk.

“We have a moral obli­ga­tion to the pub­lic to ad­vise how the money is spent.

“It’s im­por­tant for them to know how it ben­e­fits vet­er­ans’ lives.”

He says some peo­ple think their do­na­tion goes to­wards pro­vid­ing drinks and so­cial events at RSAs, but the Auck- land branch doesn’t have a so­cial side.

In­stead, all the money raised goes straight into pro­vid­ing wel­fare sup­port and pen­sion ad­vo­cacy for vet­er­ans.

It also pro­vides grants to mem­bers for things like new den­tures, den­tal work, surgery and glasses if they can’t af­ford them.

Mar­garet Burke, who man­ages sup­port ser­vices, pen­sion ad­vo­cacy, health and wel­fare, says a lot of her work is get­ting vet­er­ans on the war dis­able­ment pen­sion.

That can be a time-con­sum­ing process and may in­volve get­ting sec­ond med­i­cal opin­ions on vet­er­ans’ health prob­lems if they don’t au­to­mat­i­cally qual­ify for the pen­sion.

“It’s some­thing that’s out of their reach some­times,” she says.

Formed in 1916, the Auck­land RSA was the dis­trict’s orig­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tion and cov­ered an area from Kaitaia to Taupo.

Other ar­eas later formed their own as­so­ci­a­tions and Auck­land now cov­ers the cen­tral city, Pon­sonby and New­mar­ket.

Mr Monk says al­though World War Two vet­er­ans are dis­ap­pear­ing, RSAs are still busy pro­vid­ing sup­port for those who served in Korea, Malaysia, Viet­nam and those af­fected by nu­clear test­ing.

He says the most dis­ap­point­ing thing is the length of time it takes many vet­er­ans to get their war pen­sion ap­pli­ca­tions pro­cessed by Vet­er­ans Af­fairs New Zealand and Work and In­come, with most wait­ing a year or more.

In the mean­time, they still have to pay med­i­cal costs them­selves, he says.

Ms Burke says a num­ber of vet­er­ans die each year while wait­ing for their ap­pli­ca­tions to be pro­cessed.

Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Min­is­ter Rick Barker says from July 1, Vet­er­ans Af­fairs New Zealand will be solely re­spon­si­ble for war dis­able­ment pen­sions.

“The changes will mean that vet­er­ans will be able to deal di­rectly with one or­gan­i­sa­tion for all in­quiries about en­ti­tle­ments and ser­vices,” he says.

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