DHA doesn’t understand SAS life: vet­eran

Western Suburbs Weekly - - News -

VIET­NAM vet­eran and Swan­bourne res­i­dent Ric Ma­honey (69) says those re­view­ing the pro­posed de­mo­li­tion of the SAS’s Sea­ward Vil­lage must re­mem­ber that the elite sol­diers and their fam­i­lies are liv­ing with al­most con­stant ac­tive war ser­vice.

“The SAS guys go out on pa­trol in groups of four or eight and live in the pock­ets of their mates and so when they come home the last thing they need is to be stuffed into some apart­ment unit, as they need their space to get away from it all,” Mr Ma­honey said.

Dur­ing 10 months in Viet­nam as an ar­tillery sur­veyor, Mr Ma­honey would see stressed sol­diers fight each other at Nui Dat base and in its bar.

He said he knows what it is like to re­turn from armed con­flict and was lucky to have a large sup­port­ive fam­ily at the time.

He said those work­ing for De­fence Hous­ing Aus­tralia (DHA), which has pro­posed the re­de­vel­op­ment, may not understand the needs of SAS sol­diers, who can be de­ployed sev­eral times a year, and their fam­i­lies.

“They need to come home to nor­malcy, to peace and quiet, and see the same gar­den their wives planted, and know their neigh­bours are the same peo­ple that they left,” Mr Ma­honey said.

As a for­mer Swan­bourne Surf Life­sav­ing Club of­fi­cer, he walked ju­nior mem­bers to their homes in the vil­lage.

“The kids al­ways say ‘dad’s off some­where, and mum doesn’t know where he is’,” Mr Ma­honey said.

He has at­tended DHA brief­ings on the pro­posed re­de­vel­op­ment of the 152home vil­lage, which would see about half the 22ha sold for pri­vate hous­ing, leav­ing the sol­diers in a new, high-den­sity precinct in the vil­lage’s north.

“If you in­stead ren­o­vate those cur­rent 152 homes, you are show­ing some com­pas­sion and recog­ni­tion of the sol­diers’ and wives’ needs, and not bull­doze the gar­dens which they have put so much ef­fort into,” he said.

Pic­ture: Jon Bas­sett

Ric Ma­honey says SAS sol­diers need nor­malcy and peace and quiet when they re­turn from ser­vice.

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