The New Zealand Herald

Soldier hero adds his voice to Poppy Appeal

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Former SAS soldier Willie Apiata has launched this year’s RSA Poppy Appeal with an emotional plea for Kiwis to get behind the campaign for the sake of all New Zealanders.

The country’s only living Victoria Cross recipient said every overseas deployment “takes a part away from you” making it difficult to reintegrat­e with families waiting at home.

“At some stage in our life we will live through something that will traumatise us,” said Apiata.

“All we ask is for people to listen and to not judge us. We need your support when we come home and our families need your support too because it’s those poor buggers who’ve got to live with us when we come back.”

Apiata is one of seven Poppy Ambassador­s; the others are former soldier Melanie Childs, former soldier and widow Tina Grant, All Blacks coach Steven Hansen, film-maker Sir Peter Jackson, Naval reservist and singer Rebecca Nelson and mental health advocate Mike King.

For King, the theme of this year’s Poppy Appeal, “Not all wounds bleed”, is an acknowledg­ement that the issue of mental health and addiction is being taken increasing­ly seriously across the country.

“For it to now be okay to ask for help and talk about problems is a groundbrea­king moment,” said King.

“I know Willie [Apiata], I know he gets counsellin­g and I know his wounds aren’t bleeding but they are there and they will be there forever.

“We need to acknowledg­e that and Watch NZH Focus video at nzherald.co.nz we need to make it okay . . . this isn’t going to just help the veterans, past, present and future, this is going to help all New Zealanders overcome that final hurdle.”

Poppy Day, on Friday April 20, raises funds for NZ’s 41,000 veterans, returned servicemen and women and their families. — Tristram Clayton NZME is an official media partner of this year’s Pin A Poppy campaign. Go to pinapoppy.co.nz to donate.

 ?? Picture / Getty Images ?? Willie Apiata, VC, has made an emotional plea for Kiwis to support the Poppy Appeal.
Picture / Getty Images Willie Apiata, VC, has made an emotional plea for Kiwis to support the Poppy Appeal.

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