It was cold and dark as I made my way to the Anzac Dawn Service at the Greerton RSA but my heart was warm when I saw the thousands of others also making what for many has become an annual pilgrimage to honour those who gave so much for so many.
I was also honoured this year to lay a wreath for the first time as an MP at the Civic Service at Memorial Park. Like others standing before the cenotaph I had mixed emotions – great pride for those who went to war for our country, and great sadness for those who lost their lives, or returned home but were left with physical and mental scars, and for their families and friends.
I am also very proud that the day before Anzac Day the government announced it will make $1.1 million in grant payments over the next four years to the RSA and the No Duff Charitable Trust to help fund support services for veterans.
The No Duff Charitable Trust was established in 2016 and its primary function is to provide an effective and rapid response to veterans or service people in crisis.
New Zealand has around 41,000 veterans, many of whom fought in conflicts in regions such as Vietnam, East Timor and Afghanistan. The Minister of Veteran Affairs, Ron Mark, says many of our younger men and women returning from operational service are in need of help. He says the RSA has worked hard to modernise its services and along with No Duff has become valued and trusted first-responders to those in need. This funding will help these organisations to continue their great work.