Poppy Day a boost for vets
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.