NT News

Our SAS wives go to war

- CHARLES MIRANDA

THE wives of our elite troops have fired an extraordin­ary broadside at ADF command and public broadcaste­r the ABC for perceived relentless prejudicia­l attacks on their spouses.

SAS Regiment members are legally bound to not speak but, in a historical first, the spouses are breaking ranks with a very public campaign appealing for support over perceived bias by both publicly funded institutio­ns and in the wake of the Brereton report.

On the eve of the SAS Regiment birthday this weekend, spouses sent open letters to MPs across Australia detailing the immense stress they are suffering along with their husbands, maligned indirectly by misconstru­ed facts and agenda setting.

Their husbands were not implicated in the Brereton war crimes investigat­ion but had been made to feel guilty by associatio­n as serving or former members of the SAS and other ADF special forces.

One mass mailed letter slammed the ABC for its recent coverage where it portrayed a 2001 song, “Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)”, by British band James and played at the SAS barracks bar, as a cultural attitude to how they perform in the battlefiel­d.

The wives say the song had nothing to do with that.

“The mental impact that these (ABC News) articles, along with the Brereton report and the way in which the ADF and the government have dealt with this, has caused good men, who already suffer the scars from battle and the impacts of PTSD and losing their mates, to relive this pain, along with

feeling that their country and fellow countrymen are dishonouri­ng the sacrifices they made in Afghanista­n,” one wife wrote.

Another letter written by an SAS spouse said: “Like so many wives and partners of current and forming serving SAS operators, we feel like our voice has not been heard and so many inaccuraci­es and lies are being shared across our mainstream media, with few media outlets showing any type of unbiased or even reporting on this issue.”

The identities of the letter writers have been verified.

Dr Kay Danes, whose husband,

Kerry, retired from ADF SAS Regiment and was a former warrant officer (WO1), said spouses were saying “enough is enough”.

Dr Danes said the planned flag lowering of the SAS 2 Squadron — disbanded by ADF Chief Angus Campbell — which was to take place on Friday but aborted after interventi­on by Defence Minister Peter Dutton, was a catalyst.

She received more than 18,000 messages of support in a single day when she wrote an online letter this week saying that the 57-year-old squad disbanding as a consequenc­e of the Brereton war crimes

probe maligned all those innocently attached to it over the decades.

She said a code of secrecy had been instilled into special forces members but partners were now feeling emboldened.

“We, the SAS partners, are asked a lot of, we are asked to be silent and not show emotion, just be the support person, but we are the ones seeing the moral trauma firsthand, holding the family together … the (ADF) leadership has failed.”

Defence declined to comment and the ABC said it stood by its journalism.

 ??  ?? Dr Kay Danes and husband Kerry, who retired from the ADF SAS Regiment.
Dr Kay Danes and husband Kerry, who retired from the ADF SAS Regiment.

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