Ellenbrook veteran campaigning for ‘respect for returned soldiers’


Chris Coote, of Ellenbrook, is campaigning for a veterans facility  in his suburb.
Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d467799
Chris Coote, of Ellenbrook, is campaigning for a veterans facility in his suburb. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d467799

ELLENBROOK RSL sub branch president Chris Coote joined the army as a 30-year-old, with a long-term desire to give back to his country.

The mechanical and electrical engineer went to Afghanistan in 2010 with the sixth battalion.

He said he had always wanted to join the army and after seeing a campaign at the Royal Show, he decided to join.

“It reignited the spark in me to do something for my country,” he said.

“The army was everything I expected and more. You have experiences and exposure to things that 99 per cent of the population will and should never see. But being part of that one per cent is life-changing.”

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After seven months in the war-torn country, Mr Coote received multiple traumas and was medically discharged and retired.

He said the experience of having to retire was disappointing.

“I enjoyed what I did, so being told I couldn’t go on was disappointing,” he said.

Mr Coote said returning to life in Australia following being in Afghanistan was hard.

He said is was important soldiers returning from war now, were still supported and respected, especially on Anzac Day.

He said Anzac Day was to commemorate those soldiers past and present who had made sacrifices to keep Australia safe.

“Returning to life as a civilian is a difficult thing,” he said.

“People don’t realise that Afghanistan is the longest war we’ve had in a very long time and whatever you believe in or the reasons why we went, the simple fact is we were doing what was best for our nation and we should be thankful people have chosen to do that, just like we are thankful for teachers.”

He said due to the growth of Ellenbrook there was a need for a RSL there, especially for younger veterans who continued to move into the area with young families.

“I have been actively campaigning for a veteran’s facility in Ellenbrook,” he said.

“A place that will be modern and accepted by young veterans. I’m campaigning for change because there is a perception that the RSL is for older veterans but it’s a place where people can come together and be supported.”

The Ellenbrook RSL sub branch will hold their Anzac Day dawn service on April 25 at Ellenbrook District Open Space from 6.10am.