Ser­vice his­tory queried

Ellenbrook Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - Lisa Thomas

ELLENBROOK RSL pres­i­dent Chris Coote has re­signed amid ques­tions over his mil­i­tary ser­vice.

Al­le­ga­tions were made on a civil­ian mil­i­tary in­ves­ti­ga­tions web­site claim­ing Mr Coote had pro­vided false in­for­ma­tion about his ser­vice his­tory.

Mr Coote served as a me­chanic in Afghanistan in 2011, but al­le­ga­tions have been made that the vet­eran mis­stated how long he spent in the war-torn coun­try and the in­juries he re­ceived dur­ing his ser­vice, which led to him be­ing med­i­cally dis­charged.

State­ments from the web­site claim Mr Coote pre­vi­ously said that he suf­fered post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der and hear­ing loss from an ex­plo­sion, but state­ments from for­mer ser­vice mem­bers al­lege it never hap­pened.

There are also ques­tions sur­round­ing the amount of

time Mr Coote spent in Afghanistan.

The Ad­vo­cate spoke to Mr Coote, who said he re­signed in June fol­low­ing the al­le­ga­tions.

“I re­signed from pres­i­dency be­cause I knew cur­rent serv­ing mem­bers of the RSL were in­volved in the in­for­ma­tion on the web­site,” he said.

“I also re­signed be­cause of the al­le­ga­tions and I wanted to pro­tect the RSL.”

Mr Coote said some of the state­ments on the web­site were false and he re­jected claims he had lied about his time in Afghanistan and the in­juries he suf­fered.

He said he had re­ceived ver­bal abuse be­cause of the al­le­ga­tions.

“Sadly the world is truly full of hate­ful peo­ple and I hope that my ser­vice to this com­mu­nity to this point will be gen­uinely re­garded and some­thing of which I have been proud of.”

He said the mil­i­tary po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the claims made on the web­site.

RSLWA chief ex­ec­u­tive John McCourt said he was made aware of al­le­ga­tions sur­round­ing Mr Coote in 2017.

“Al­le­ga­tions were raised with the RSLWA about 12 months ago through phone calls from for­mer sol­diers who served with Chris, claim­ing that he did not have PTSD and that he did very lit­tle while in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Un­for­tu­nately any pub­lic­ity that de­tracts from our mis­sion of look­ing af­ter vet­er­ans and their fam­i­lies has an im­pact on all the ex­cep­tional work our mem­bers are do­ing.

“RSLWA is work­ing to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices in the lo­cal area and the Ellenbrook RSL sub branch are a vi­tal part of this plan.”

The Depart­ment of De­fence was con­tacted but did not get back to The Ad­vo­cate be­fore dead­line.

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