In July 1915, Captain Donald Simson returned to New Zealand from Gallipoli among the first of our battle-maimed soldiers to come home.
No one at home understood what these men had endured at Gallipoli and Captain Simson quickly realised there was a need for a support system, an association of returned soldiers, that would also honour the memory of the fallen.
By April 1916, that association was up and running - and almost 100 years later the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association is still a vital part of life for our military personnel past and present.
One of the biggest challenges for the RSA has always been the invisible injuries - the emotional and mental anguish suffered by our troops.
Veterans support adviser Chris Moult said post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was an increasing issue for RSAs across New Zealand.
"The reality is that many people who came home from World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korea and other missions were also suffering from what we now know as PTSD," he said.
"People come back changed. They may suffer terrible nightmares, abuse alcohol or drugs, be violent and withdraw into themselves and not cope with life."
Recently, the RSA has supported a soldier who served in Afghanistan.
"He had withdrawn into his shell and couldn't tell people what he was experiencing. His army colleagues didn't know what he was going through and he was discharged without being diagnosed," said Mr Moult.
"He took a civilian job but couldn't cope so left that. Family and friends became alienated because they didn't understand his behaviour. He wasn't coping and got into debt. By the time ... he came to see us he had no money for food and was facing eviction."
Using funds from the Poppy Appeal - the RSA's major annual fundraiser - the man was provided with an emergency allowance to cover food, rent and expenses.
A small war pension and ACC allowance followed.
"He is now able to stand on his own two feet," said Mr Moult.
"Helping veterans with PTSD is just one of the many facets of the work funded through Poppy Appeal funds. Our underlying principle is 'where there is a need'."
RSA chief executive David Moger said funds also paid for services including contributing towards doctors' fees and dental costs, surgery such as cataract operations, glasses, the purchase and maintenance of mobility scooters, heating costs and minor home maintenance.
Former and current servicemen and women, their spouses/partners, widows/widowers and dependants can also apply for assistance. And the RSA helps overseas veterans living in New Zealand.
"We honour the memory of those who have gone before by caring for those still with us. The people who have served New Zealand and their families have made sacrifices for us, and it is important to do what we can to show we appreciate that," he said.
It was difficult to say how much was needed each year.
"Funds raised locally are used locally so we don't have one national set of accounts. However, we do know that we raised $1.7 million last year, and while some RSAs have some money in reserve, we have spent most of what we raised.
"We have other sources of revenue for our operating expenses, but we hold poppy fund in trust solely for support services. Donations go to support those who have served and sacrificed. We ask people to give generously to remember those who have gone before by caring for those with us."
RSA a lifesaver for vets and spouses
Since 1916 the RSA has been supporting veterans and their families.
Daphne MacLean's husband, Aeon, served in Korea from 1950-53. The RSA has given the couple financial help so Mrs MacLean could get otherwise unaffordable dental care.
"It certainly helps to have that recognition for what we were part of," Mrs MacLean said. "The RSA has been wonderful. They treat us with respect and give us time and do their best to help. And we know that as our circumstances change we can always be sure that they will have the latest information on what support is available and how they can help us."
The couple urge Kiwis to support the RSA by donating during the Poppy Appeal.
In Gisborne, the RSA has paid for cataract surgery and saved the sight of two women who could not afford to fund their own treatment.
Sheila Gerard, 93, served in the air force during World War II.
"I'm a pensioner and there's no way I could find the $4000 or so to have the surgery done," she said.
"It was absolutely wonderful of the RSA. I can see again. I am more than thankful to them."
Joan Scott, 86, said the surgery had "made life liveable again" and couldn't thank the RSA enough for helping her.
Her husband, air force navigator William Scott, was one of only two survivors when his plane crashed.
Poppy symbol of our respect
Kiwis get behind the Returned and Services Association Poppy Appeal and NZME.'s Pin a Poppy:
Former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry:
It was always special when the All Blacks wore the poppy on their sleeves. It called to mind the 13 All Blacks who were among the thousands of New Zealanders who lost their lives in WWI including Dave Gallaher, the captain of the 1905 team, who was killed at Passchendaele.
Actress Antonia Prebble, who starred in the recent television series Anzac Girls:
It is the way we can show our respect to the men and women who served in WWI and also make a difference to the lives of veterans and their families. Wearing the poppy is a sign that we remember, and that we will always remember, the sacrifices that our fellow New Zealanders made for us.
Actor Mark Hadlow, who works for the Royal New Zealand Navy as a public relations officer:
As we approach Anzac Day, we're seeing a huge amount of work by volunteers and organisations to raise funds for veterans through the red poppy, which is still a poignant reminder of the courage of Kiwis and the ultimate sacrifice made by thousands of men and women.
The poppy is the image that sums up those words used to honour the heroes from all wars: "At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them".