New RSA president focuses on welfare

AL WILLIAMS
Last updated 05:00 29/09/2012

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New South Canterbury Returned and Services Association president Tom Palmer has strong visions for the organisation.

Mr Palmer took the reins this week and will continue with the support he has been giving veterans in Timaru for the past decade.

Mr Palmer retired here 10 years ago and has been active in the RSA support team ever since. The team visits members in rest homes and hospitals, picks up members in the association's welfare truck, and networks in the community.

He says that role will always be the most important job.

"That's what we stand for; welfare of the returned servicemen and their families.

"That extends into making sure they get the benefits they are entitled to," he says.

He is not discounting the new role, however.

"It involves a lot more responsibility of representing the RSA in the best possible light for Timaru and this country as a whole, and to keep our traditions that we formed in 1916," he says.

"I'm only the figurehead but I should lead by example."

He says 2015 will be a big year for the RSA.

"One of my tasks in co-ordination with the executive is to prepare for the centenary of Gallipoli commemorations."

Mr Palmer served in the armed forces for 30 years, notably in the air forces of Britain and New Zealand.

He spent 12 years in the Royal Air Force and transferred to its New Zealand counterpart in 1965.

He served as a member of the Far East air force jungle and parachute rescue team between 1962 and 1964. Another part of his role was as a noncommissioned officer in charge of the RAF casualty evacuation unit, co-ordinating medical evacuations by air.

In 1967, he went to Vietnam as a member of the New Zealand combined services medical team, having done further training in various medical fields.

He was posted again in Singapore where he was executive officer of the New Zealand Force Hospital between 1980 and 1982.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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