Two war widows have praised the Poppy Appeal for making "life liveable again", after receiving cataract surgery funded by the Returned and Services Association.
Sheila Gerrard and Joan Scott, from Gisborne, needed cataract surgery in both eyes, but only qualified for surgery on one eye under the public health system. The RSA funded their remaining surgery to the tune of $13,000.
The surgery had "made life liveable again", Mrs Scott said.
"After the surgery I was able to see clearly again. I can't thank the RSA enough to assisting me," she said.
Mrs Gerrard, 93, said she was so delighted she planned to "get 60 poppies this year".
It comes as the RSA launches the 2015 Poppy Appeal this week, which will see thousands of volunteers - including at least 500 Defence Force personnel - take to the streets across the country to collect for the appeal.
Among those will be Deputy Chief of Navy Commodore Dean McDougall who will be collecting among commuters on the Wellington to Wairarapa train.
"The support the RSA gives to veterans is hugely valuable," he said.
"They are providing welfare at the coalface and support in many ways."
Funds raised are used by the RSA to help veterans, former servicemen and women and their dependants, with the money raised used in the area it is collected.
There are more than 180 RSAs across the country and they provide support to thousands of people, RSA National President BJ Clark said.
Paul Buchan, from Tauranga, suffered damage to his hearing due to constant exposure to field guns while serving in Korea. He was recently fitted with hearing aids, with help from his local RSA, which also providing funding for a reading device.
Pt Chevalier RSA support advisor Chris Moult recently helped a veteran who had been severely affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"By the time his local Work and Income office suggested he came to see us, he had no money for food and was facing eviction," Mr Moult said.
"He had no-one else to turn to and came to us as a matter of extreme last resort.
"Using Poppy Appeal funds, we were able to provide immediate emergency support via an allowance to cover food, rent and expenses while we helped him access specialist therapy and the support he was entitled to."
* Support the Poppy Appeal 2015 by making a donation to a collector on Friday, at ANZ Bank branches and Z Service Stations, texting POPPY to 4662 for a $3 donation, or online at www.rsa.org.nz/donation
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