RSA Poppy Appeal funds having a real impact; changing lives of veterans and their families
A Trentham service family and a Masterton father-of-two are among a growing number who have received financial support from the RSA Poppy Appeal during the past year.
This year’s appeal, which raises vital funds to support the growing needs of New Zealand’s 41,000 veterans and their families, will culminate in Poppy Day this Friday, April 20.
Elijah and the North Family
The RSA helped two serving NZ Army Captains, Laura and Tane North, fund specialist care for their youngest son who has severe disabilities.
Elijah North, who turns three in June, has microcephaly, a condition in which the brain does not develop properly. Further tests found Elijah had another genetic condition, causing further complications. As a result, he suffers from 14 health issues that affect most parts of his body, including two small holes in his heart.
Using proceeds from last year’s Poppy Appeal, the RSA gave the Norths $10,000 towards specialist therapy for Elijah at Sydney’s Neurological and Physical Abilitation (NAPA) Centre.
Mum Laura North says NAPA specialises in three-week intensive programmes which can help some children to achieve the same progress as a year of traditional therapy.
“The RSA funded Elijah’s first year of treatment at NAPA which we believe will give him a better chance at a full life which will hopefully involve independent movement, communication and the ability to positively contribute to society,” she said.
The theme for this year’s RSA Poppy Appeal, not all wounds bleed, highlights the fact that mental health injuries are the most common, but least understood, of all wounds suffered by New Zealand servicemen and women.
Masterton father-of-two Nick Tomlin suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI), described by psychologists as the most severe of all service-induced mental health injuries.
During a 25-year career in the British military, Mr Tomlin served in many theatres of war including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He also served the NZ Defence Force in a civilian post when he brought his young family to New Zealand.
Using poppy funds donated within the Masterton community, the RSA paid for Mr Tomlin to travel to California last October to attend the SPARTA Project, a programme designed to help veterans with PTSI turn their lives around.
“My problems did not start until I had left the military,” he said.
“I was trained to fight and be a strong man, so when I come home suffering I wouldn’t talk about it or ask for help. Fortunately, one of my closest ex–military friends understood what I was going through and assisted me to enrol in the SPARTA Project, a course with people who have been through the same situations and suffered similar emotions.
“SPARTA taught me to unleash the power within to overcome the traumatic experiences of war. The choice is simple, take control of the PTSI and courageously look for answers to resolve it or accept the experiences of war. Don’t spend years in suffering detached from love, joy, happiness and hope. Never give up. It may be hard at first, but as long as you want to live and move forward, it will get easier,” he said.
Nick now competes in Ironman events to raise funds to help fellow PTSI sufferers.
“I’m really grateful to the RSA for flying me to the United States for the nine days at SPARTA.”
Nick Tomlin is working with RSA’s Danny Nelson to explore how SPARTA could help New Zealand veterans in their recovery from PTSI.
In addition to these, RSA also helped veterans in the past year with Poppy Appeal funds in ways including:
- Financial support for a soldier experiencing effects of PTSI who was in financial difficulty
- Financial aid and home moving assistance for a Solomon Island veteran who was injured on deployment and later faced personal tragedy and hardship.
- Assisted a suicidal young Veteran, who was initially secured by No Duff and then handed over to RSA, with emergency accommodation and food and emergency counselling.
- Emergency counselling for the wife of a Veteran, who suffers from chronic PTSI.
- Counselling for a Veteran with PTSI and support for them to get assistance through Veterans Affairs.
How you can help
- Members of the public can support the appeal by making a donation to a Street Appeal collector on Friday 20 April.
- Donations can also be made online at rsa.org.nz/donate and at any ANZ branch.