Proceeds to help veterans

Oamaru RSA Hub support adviser Barry Gamble wants to help secure Poppy Day funds to support...
Oamaru RSA Hub support adviser Barry Gamble wants to help secure Poppy Day funds to support veterans in need. PHOTO: OAMARU MAIL FILES
Donations to the Poppy Day collections for Anzac Day this year will support veterans who are especially in need and one Oamaru man is determined to help.

RSA local support adviser Barry Gamble has helped set up the Oamaru RSA Hub to help inform veterans about access to support and entitlements.

Recent government cuts to funding for veterans has left many without access to assistance. Veterans' Affairs put a pause on new applications to the Veterans' Independence Programme last month.

The programme offered assistance to veterans without a service-related condition, such as gardening, lawn mowing, house work and medical alarms.

Mr Gamble works alongside Wynns, local agencies and the Public Trust, which will donate funds from the Poppy Day collections for "special cases".

"When I find someone who needs some hearing aids or new teeth or glasses and has got no money.

"You have to have a need, more than a want.

"So we’re careful how we give it out," he said.

The Veterans’ Independence Programme has been put on pause for a year but Mr Gamble is concerned "the year will drag on a bit".

He works as a "go-between" for veterans, young and old, and Veterans Affairs.

He wants to ensure that veterans 80 and over are aware of any entitlements they can access.

"They don’t communicate by cellphone and they don’t have the internet.

"I’ve done the training and I’m here to help."

Mr Gamble, who moved to Oamaru in 1990, served as a regular peacetime soldier for about five years, and also spent time in the territorials.

He also established the Waitaki branch of the New Zealand Remembrance Army, helping to restore the graves of former military personnel in the Waitaki district.

He said that Veteran Affairs had been "underfunded for years" and the changes to funding were not suitable.

"They’ve virtually made it now that you have to be over 90 or have operational service.

"Now, 95% of our military people have not got operational service. "

The Oamaru RSA Hub and its members also work alongside the Brydone Hotel to offer subsidised meals for veterans and their families, Mr Gamble said.

The veterans’ lunch was innovated by the team at the Brydone Hotel when the RSA closed down in Oamaru in 2014.

Lead RSA members Harry Andrew and Ian Kofoed are usually present, Mr Gamble said.

"We meet at lunchtime every Friday at the Brydone . . . and I’m about to extend that to drinks at say 4.30 to 6pm on a Friday for younger ones that are working.

"Veterans can come along and have a yarn and if they need me, I can go along and tell them what’s going on in the Veteran Affairs world and the RSA world, which I do post on my RSA Facebook site, but once again the people that need to read it, don’t see it."