The RSA is this week running its annual Poppy Appeal – with its theme 'Not All Wounds Bleed' shining a focus on the non-physical injuries veterans and their families face. NZME is an official media partner of the RSA's campaign
Those who feel it most are the ones who are left behind.
Ten New Zealanders died during the 12 years of deployments to Afghanistan, and many others through natural causes, accidents, training deaths.
The children – sons, daughters, nieces, and nephews – battle on, putting on brave faces.
But they feel it as much as anyone, and that's why staff sergeant Tina Grant, liaison Officer for Families of the Fallen, is so driven to get as many kids as she can to an annual camp in Australia for children who have lost loved ones in uniform.
Grant first came across Camp Legacy - an annual camp in Busselton, about 200km south of Perth, Western Australia - in 2013.
Since then, she has taken groups across every year for the unique bonding experience.
In January this year, thanks to money raised The Fallen Heroes Trust, the NZSAS Trust, the RSA's Poppy Fund and NZME's 2017 Pin a Poppy campaign, she took a group of seven kids for the camp, helped run by soldiers from the Australian SAS Regiment.
Based at a stunning beach, the kids went swimming, pontoon diving, enjoyed boat rides, fishing, kayaking, sail boarding, and theme and skit nights.
But it's the chance to mix with like-minded children who have suffered similar experiences of loss that is most treasured.
"It's a great chance for these children to meet, share, cry and enjoy each other's company. It's very special," says Grant, whose husband Douglas Grant, an SAS corporal, died in a firefight in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 18, 2011.
Her two children, Jemma, 13, and 11-year-old Jaden also took in the camp, along with the 13-year-old Kyla, eldest daughter, of Corporal Luke Tamatea who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, along with two New Zealand comrades in August 2012.
Kyla says the camp has helped her mentally and physically.
"I now know I'm not alone," she said.
This year, the two youngest children of father-of-four special ops soldier Sergeant Wayne Taylor, who died during a training exercise in the Coromandel last October, were given a chance to experience Camp Legacy,
Both Beau, 17, and 14-year-old Rachel Taylor relished the trip.
"It means a lot to be part of the camp, I know I'm not alone and other people are here to support me as I support them. Camp adds a silver lining to the darkest of clouds," said Rachel.
Beau said the camp has shown him a way to move forward with his life.
"It has given me the opportunity to challenge my worst fears," he said.
"I got through it, and discovered what you have given me, memories with people who are the same as me."
• NZME is an official media partner of this year's Pin A Poppy campaign. Visit www.pinapoppy.co.nz to donate – including the option to get a $3 virtual poppy via text