Ellenbrook RSL president resigns after allegations question military service

Ellenbrook RSL sub branch president Chris Coote whilst campaigning for a veterans facility in his suburb.
Ellenbrook RSL sub branch president Chris Coote whilst campaigning for a veterans facility in his suburb.

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, however, 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, however alleged statements from former service members say 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 from the RSL in June following the allegations.

“I resigned from the 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 received.

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.

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 is a vital part of this plan.”

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