Episode 4

Shane Healey

Shane enlisted in the Australian Army in 1995. Between 2004 and 2008 he was a private military contractor in Iraq where he initially trained Iraqi Special Operations police who fought in the second battle of Fallujah which I was also involved in as part of the CMATT program.
Shane then reenlisted into the Australian Army in 2009 as a member of the Australian Intelligence Corps posted to SOCOMD.
 
He has been deployed twice to Afghanistan (2010/2011 and 2012) as part of Task Force 66 where he provided insurgent threat assessments.  Shane’s analytical efforts enabled numerous successful targeting operations of key leaders and disruption operations of IED networks.
 
When in Australia he was part of the Tactical Assault Group – East and West where he was involved in several real time terrorist incidents as well as providing CBRNE threat advices for the 2011 CHOGM and POTUS visits as well as the G20 in Brisbane. 
 
In 2014 – 2015, Shane deployed to the UAE and Baghdad.

Speaker 1: I'm Steve price. I'm proud to be an Australian ambassador for wounded heroes, the first responders to our homeless and at-risk veterans providing emergency solutions right across Australia. They're starting to sell furniture and they're starting to sell engagement rings. They're Hocking their metals. They're Hocking their PlayStations for their kids to keep a roof over their head. Every day, year round wounded heroes provides these emergency solutions with no government funding. Notice there was a need for that immediacy of crisis funds, immediacy of being able to operate within one hour, 10 minutes, 15 minutes to do get food on the table. What Tricity to get some rent pays. They're not being evicted. And they saved my life mate, and they work tirelessly seven days a week without any help. You know, they're running on the smell of an oily rag and they, they get their unsung heroes joining us on IO wounded heroes veteran of the day podcast. This week is Shane Healey. Who's had an extraordinary career in the military. He has served offshore in tough places, places like Afghanistan and Iraq. He's also done a lot of work in counter intelligence in Australia. Some things he can't talk about, but plenty he can talk about Shane. Thanks for joining us. Really good to talk to you.

Speaker 2: What

Speaker 1: Made you join the military, the army?

Speaker 2: Um, so it's, it's an interesting question. As long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to do was, uh, was bigger up, you know, I grew up with, um, uh, when I was little with more, and then he was a Dakota veteran. He was actually 16 when he was in Kickstarter and, uh, I was an army cadet. Um, I actually won cadet of the, even all this six to eight minutes. I just always wanted to be a soldier. And, um, and actually mum knew that so, you know, pretty much left high school and enlisted in 95,

Speaker 1: Really funny. Uh, I talked to a lot of veterans who are exactly the same profile that either their father or their grandfather was either Vietnam vet or served in the second world war. And it seems to run in the family that, you know, it's almost in your genes, it's in your DNA that you play soldiers as a little kid, and then you go off and become a real one.

Speaker 2: Yeah, it's funny aside. So my dad played first grade rugby league and, uh, I played, uh, at a, uh, quite representing top level as a teenager as well, when that was, um, one behalf of the day night. One of my uncles was actually, uh, in the, uh, Navy and had spent time with a special air service. And I was just sided with, uh, he's stories in his job. So as well, so, um, I guess I had two sides of DNA pulling at me. And then one day literally I was at football training at, at one of the, uh, Sydney clubs on a Tuesday and join the army on the Wednesday. He said, no, I want to be a soldier when I was 19 years old. Um, I applied for a couple of those Sydney clubs and the case for me was always exceptionally fast. So, um, what did I say at one stage? You know, I was actually qualified for the Commonwealth games and the a hundred meters and, um, won a gold medal as a junior in the beach for him. So I, I ran pretty quick, um, which was an asset. So you'll get her on

Speaker 3: Help you in the army to be able to run quick guy. Does it cause you go in the other way?

Speaker 2: Well, it depends. We try the bolts stop flowing. Um, no. And when I joined the basic test was a 5k run. So I had to go from being a bit of a more explosive to learning, to run. Um, you know, this is a basic fitness test, five Ks, because the interesting thing is there was still some Vietnam vets around when I joined it and it was all of the doctrine. And I remember it recruit school. We had a Padre who would always join us on our chest and he would start on the back and slowly jump through, you know, there'd be a hundred recruits running and he finished first and we cut how's this all go? I do it. He turned out he was an Olympian and yeah. So when they changed it to 2.4 hours, one of the very happy arms,

Speaker 3: Exciting, isn't it? You and I talked a while back off air about, uh, how, uh, football clubs and football competitions actually look after their staff, uh, and the appliers in particular, their assets, which is what they are assets. Whereas army assets are not actually treated as well when they're either in or when they leave. I mean, it, it just big as belief to me.

Speaker 2: Um, yeah, it's gotten better on both sides. Um, and I've witnessed the progression, like when I first, um, uh, had a major injury to my back in 96 and, you know, there was no such thing as physio and it was, you know, you will be ride get up. And, uh, whereas now, you know, uh, at Holsworthy they've got excellent physio therapists. It's just, um, the large volume, especially when we were in Afghanistan and Iraq, the large volume of injuries and regularly was assignment was, you know, when I applied, um, it was, you know, trying to stay, not trying to say, get on the drink, have a run set. I morning play Sunday where these days it's fully professional. So, um, there is evolution and defense sometimes, um, has a bit harder, but it's budgetary to, you know, nothing's cheap and army like their new toys or works the new toys. And so they've got to kind of prioritize where some of that money goes, uh, 19, 19. Yeah.

Speaker 2: So, um, to Kapooka, um, and back then you actually get enjoined with a job. So it was really quick. So it was that three weeks from signing the dotted line to going to the food up. And then, um, about five weeks in your platoon gets kind of a list of roles that have been assigned and you kind of go off. So there's some inventory and there's some artillery and they cook. I don't want to do that. And then you don't want to put your preferences in. And then in about week 10 or 11, they kind of tell you where you're going. And so there was a lot of guys that I wanted to be infantry, men, soldiers, that we end up having to go to catering Corps and, and stop. Whereas today, you know, you get 'em on and you go all, I want to be that for a job.

Speaker 2: Um, and you can pretty much, you know, uh, get to get to pick what you want to do. Um, so it was an interesting, um, an interesting way of doing things, uh, infantry, because, uh, back then this is pre H team or rugby was the center of gravity for the Australian army. Um, and, uh, as all things collide, my platoon Sergeant was the rugby coach at Kapooka. And my section commander was the rugby captain and using the, as trying to defend sod. And one of my other section commanders, actually, it was a couple of years above me in high school and turned around and said, Hey, he can play footy. You might want to get him involved. So, um, yeah, it was like an infantry because, um, at that time, the Singleton, um, your rugby side pied in the Newcastle on a Saturday. So I, um, went to do my infantry training and, um, stayed at Singleton and pretty much played rugby.

Speaker 3: If you go back into the head of the 19 old Shane Healey, did you actually, then, did you realize, did you compute in your own mind what joining the infantry might mean?

Speaker 2: Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's all, I, uh, the only other job that I thought about was reconnaissance, uh, solid with the Ahmed. Cool. Because it sounds really good, but once you get in and work out what they do, um, yeah, no, I, I was glad I always wanted to be an infantry soldier. Um, you know, still, like you said, that seven, eight year old kids in the Bush or these toy guns, you never grow up. You just, um, yeah, you get to be paid a pen for most of your career. And to be honest, even at 40, before I got out, I was still that seven year old kid running around the Bush and alive. So yeah, it was good.

Speaker 3: Like being first up when you first join, what's the camaraderie like to use? Do you immediately? Yeah, I belong here. This is where I want to be.

Speaker 2: Well, so when I first joined in 94, um, there was still a very big alcohol culture in the army and there was a drought. So what are they guys join? We were second off the sons from the Bush whose older brothers were going to take up the farm and there was no work. And our real knock of our guys we'd had an absolute blast. The training was a lot harder than especially physically than it is today. Um, there was a lot tougher on you, um, the instructors and what they could do as far as punishments and that, but, you know, I still look back now. And the first time I went through Kapooka was one of the best times of my military career. Um, and then, you know, 30 of us went to Singleton together for our infantry training and the fun didn't stop. You know, we, we had, uh, one of our corporals was Tom Hawking. Who's one of the biggest men on earth, um, and is a base of an awesome soldier and pushed us harder than anything. And you love it. You know, you come back from the bayonet of so-called coveting, modern blood, and you just giggling and laughing. So yeah, the camaraderie was really, really good, which is why I said, you know, I'm 45 now, and I'm still in touch with what do goals.

Speaker 3: So when you ended up, when you end up getting posted overseas and you're in conflict, and do you, are there things that you were taught as a recruit in training that still stood you in good state that you thought, yeah, I know exactly what to do here.

Speaker 2: Yeah. So again, um, because all I got actual and, and, uh, contracted in the middle East and came back and had to go through again and it was a bit different, but the first time I went through the biggest thing that drew it into you is your soldier first. It doesn't matter if you're a clock or a coop, but your soldier, your true Greyson bearing has to be the number one thing you've gotta be, you've gotta be switched on. You've gotta be good at your job. Um, and that was one of the biggest things that I took with me from what Theresa, when you did deploy at a season and you knew where you were going or what you were doing, you had that, I've got to be good at my job. I've got to know what I'm doing. I've got to be, you know, and so that was a big thing that the lesson took for me for my whole career was, was that, that you're a soldier. You've got to be a good soldier and your brothers and sisters, essentially. Now I'm going to count on you and you'll got to count on them. And, you know, you don't want to be that weak link. So that was the biggest thing I took with me through my career.

Speaker 3: So when you say you're going to be a good soldier, what does that actually consist of? What's being a good soldier, main,

Speaker 2: Uh, individual ready. So, um, you know, be on time. Um, and if you are injured or you don't say anything and, you know, you, you, you add that weak link, um, learn from all this, be humble, you know, Hey, you know, one of the biggest things I learned and I've taken me to me, it's not that I don't know something it's, I haven't learned it yet. And, you know, there's a great expression in the military soldiers, and that's one thing, how do you do that? And you just get a quick five second lesson, you know, this is how you're doing. And, you know, be humble enough to actually say, I don't know how to do that. Um, can you show me rather than go and not know? So, um, I think that that was a key thing there. Yeah.

Speaker 3: What prompted you to step out and go private and then get back in?

Speaker 2: Um, well, I, uh, had suffered a back injury that was misdiagnosed and mistreated early on. Um, and I was still, I was still in the defense force when nine 11 happened. Um, and, um, getting into, you know, uh, 2002 three when, uh, it looked like, you know, Afghanistan was done and dusted. I thought I'd missed my chance and my childhood, uh, I guess, dream to serve my country. Um, and then in 2004, when I got the opportunity to go to Iraq as a contractor training, the Iraqi special operations, well, the new Iraqi special operations, uh, soldiers, I jumped at the chance of getting back, but also, you know, living that child who drove,

Speaker 3: You suffered a chronic pain back pain. How, how bad was it?

Speaker 2: Um, at times I lived on the floor, uh, yeah, it, it, um, it was bad. There was, um, probably in, uh, know there was at least a week on end where I would literally spend the time on the floor, just keeping my trunk back, striking the tension out of it. And he wasn't actually probably diagnosed until, uh, 2011 or 12. Um, but yeah, it was, it was, it was tough some days, for sure.

Speaker 3: So, were you, uh, did you have to medicate the kit to keep that pint of buy in and did you ultimately get it fixed?

Speaker 2: Uh, so I didn't medicate, uh, when I was younger, um, and eventually, well, not get it fixed, but understand what it is and understand, um, you know, we're talking about the defense force, not being a civilian football, what was the first, uh, member of the festivals to ever do Pilates as a trial program in 2001? Um, and because before that, if you've even brought it up, they were like, what the hell is that? You know?

Speaker 2: Well, yeah, so, um, but what I do is actually worked out because of the injury, my fact that my ships were right out of line and why I had no core strength, uh, you know, because of, you know, one of the muscles in that. So just sitting on a medicine ball and fixing those, those, uh, cold muscles and getting my hips in all one, took a lot of the, um, pine and tension out of, out of my back way that, that wasn't even heard of. Um, you know, what I did need to him started my rehabilitation. So, um, you know, also I remember doing a PT session in 2001 around yoga, and everyone's like, you're doing one, we had heart rate monitors on, and even the PDI is shocked at how, how many calories and how physical a yoga session will. So, um, when now if you go into my and holes, you'll see everyone's got rolling mats and stretch bands. And so, you know, it was all rooted in medicine, um, back in the late nineties, which is now standard stuff. So, um, yeah,

Speaker 3: Veterans of the day we're talking to you today is Shane Healey. What prompted you to go back in retrain? I mean, that's, that's a big thing to do.

Speaker 2: Well, actually passion and calling, uh, when I was in Iraq, um, I started contracting, as I said, as an instructor and then, um, doing some, um, personal security work. And then I started going to intelligence meetings, um, and I'll actually became more fascinated in why we were doing a job or a mission than actually executing it. And, um, at the same time I met some former Australian intelligence officers and I just became, um, enthralled and subsided in that world. And, um, that was it. It was like, this is actually what I want to do. Um, and that motivated me to come back and then rejoined the army into the Australian intelligence Corps And Iraq

Speaker 3: Tell us about Afghanistan, fascinating country, but we've been there a very long time. Longest war Australia has ever been involved in is in Afghanistan. Um, it seems at times that we don't really know why we're there, what we're doing, but what I want to talk to you about is what was it like there in conflict?

Speaker 2: So I guess one of my other passions is history, which is why, uh, some will side I took to any, um, intelligence, like a doctor water, because I've always been a mad researcher and I love learning. And I love listening to, um, you know, it also being an indigenous Australian. I love listening to our culture, but also listening to other cultures. And that was one of the things that, uh, really deal a lot of when I got to arrive. When I first, uh, left there 2004, I was just the annoying little, you know, Australian guy. And, you know, within a month I was absolutely in love with the middle Eastern and the history of their culture. And I took that with me into, um, into Afghanistan. So I was walking off and I got to work with well motive, local partner forces, um, from government to law enforcement to, uh, different forms of their military.

Speaker 2: And every morning I would go and meet with them, um, and just listen to some of their stories. So, um, a big part of my role was to liaise and mental then, but also understand the conflict from their view. And, you know, there was guys there that 30 years prior had been to Moscow and being trained by the Russians, um, and had lived through, you know, the Russian conflict and then had lived through the tribal war because that's one of the things that's not very well reported is prior to, um, 2009 and September 11, but after 1988, when the Russians left, Afghanistan did the complete civil war in terminal that was going on within that country, uh, to the listen about that. Um, and then understand how the strain, uh, mission set, um, plays a vital role, you know, and understanding about philosophies. And so what the Taliban believe and how they've been forced that, uh, and how we can, you know, there's one of the finest things is, you know, a female, um, soldier officer build the first maternity ward in tearing color, um, and understand how that's going to change the population and that.

Speaker 2: So, um, that was a fascinating thing. The counterinsurgency stuff that we were doing, um, was, um, was what was required because these were the guys that in the saddest thing that breaks my heart now is if you look at where we fought and died and bled Teleman hands, um, and we spent, we, we, you know, we allow the local population to live the life that they wanted to leave a nice thing to school. Um, and then not getting to leave that in there. So that's one of the sad things, I guess,

Speaker 3: Is it to get inside the head of, uh, of, of the Taliban of the insurgence and, and what they're, what they're going, what doing what they're up to.

Speaker 2: Um, excellent question. Uh, so it depends on the individual and it comes down to their motivation. One of the things these, a lot of it was, um, it was a localized insurgency. So your local insurgent commander was actually the local village elder. You had to be sick. You had to understand that, or was he parachuted in by seeing a Taliban leaders into that area and made for, was he even locked or the guys under him? Uh, another thing that doesn't get reported a lot is the senior Taliban commanders for a risk Conway. We were overriding actually by some selves in Pakistan. So, um, they were sending information into their fighters, but actually not stepping forward most of the time until the battle space and when ID, um, we were very, very good at identifying that and causing that effect. And I knew that too. So this is when, uh, the government made that decision and announced it, that, you know, we were withdrawing at a certain date. I said, look, why should we pop our heads in? You guys are leaving soon. So that became again, motivation changed. And, um, yeah, so understanding the motivation of why someone, and again, it's that age old sign use one man's terrorist is another man's freedom, understanding to the locals that they might see those. They might see them as defenders of their faith, understanding that, um, is a big thing. That was a big part of my role, I would imagine.

Speaker 2: Yes. And those that know me would have, uh, Oh, it would've been the last person to have that book. It was actually because of my past history. And when you'll like, you are now, when you're interviewing someone or talking to them, you've got to let them talk. And, and especially in indigenous cultures, whether it be our Aboriginal culture or the passion, or, you know, the Iraqi Sunni or Shia educate orally, and they want to talk and they want to instruct, so, um, you would just let them talk. You, you wouldn't interrupt them. Um, and you would literally just have a conversation and they would like to school you on ven knowledge. And they would like to show off in some ways. And, and that was the key, just let, just, just get the conversation, whether it be, you know, uh, in a village during a cordon search, trying to identify, uh, you know, and surgeon or maker or, or insurgent commander or back at the detention facility, uh, or, um, you know, with a local mentoring force, it's the conversation that's important, um, and understanding and letting them talk because, um, will, um, nine times out of 10 let's, you know, what you want to know

Speaker 3: As a civilian with no military background at all. I find it hard to come to terms with the fact that you can sit and look into the eye of someone who you know's been responsible for planting or producing, uh, uh, uh, an explosive device with the intention of killing. I mean, how do you do,

Speaker 2: Um, because you'll respond. So I'll give you an example. In, in early 2011, there was a, uh, Sergeant commander and bomb maker in the Baluchi Valley. Um, any family was pretty prolific and he would ride around in a mode of all I can is trying to troll bikes there. Um, he was, uh, creating all sorts of trouble for them, especially with all IDs. Um, and we had a four day detention policy from the moment of capture. You had four days in a, uh, uh, judge, um, that the posts, the time, a member of the Taliban and the person you're after. And, um, so I've been, uh, working with the local Australian forces up there. And, um, on this one day, having a Shearer out, which is like a meeting at the back of the patrol base with the local villages to work out how they can prove the village's life.

Speaker 2: And these insurgents filmmaker turned up and started pushing them around and saying, don't listen to them on the boss around here. And at the same time, um, those locals try and solve on the phone to us. Um, and we had the ability we've having black holes to, to go up and land at the back of that patrol to tie in that insurgent commander. Um, and then 20 minutes later, I'm sitting in a room with him, um, having that exact conversation, you know, um, I know who you are, I know what you've been doing. And in the end he owned up to it. Um, and we removed that threat from both the locals and the conventional soldiers from the battle spice. And then I got to do some really good work up there. So, um, it's about again, understanding, um, your role and, and that was my job and I was exceptionally well trained for it. And I'm prepared to do that. Um, yeah, I guess that answers the question.

Speaker 3: You're talking to this guy and you say to him, why are you doing, did you ask him why you're doing this? Do you understand, was it, you know, is he, is he doing it because he's in fierce defense of his nation? Is he doing it because he hates, uh, an invading occupation force? What is he,

Speaker 2: Yeah. All of the above. And that's where the motivation comes, comes down to motivation and, um, to him where we're infidel, um, when, uh, Salafi, Muslims. Yeah, exactly right. Where we're inviting and where I'm trying to change the mind of other Muslims, which, you know, and Islamic extremist, isn't the right thing. And, um, that's why I got caught or target or the Muslims they target us because I guess in an easy way, it's my way or the highway. And that was his motivation was, um, he was still staunch Taliban. So still Storj, very, uh, militant Salafi. And you know, that these women have no rights. They can't leave the house without a mile. And then we were foreign inviters on a foreign land. And he, his role was to get rid of this, what happened to him through, uh, himself admitting. Um, and he was quite proud of what he had done. Um, I would to, um, provide legal information to, um, the, the legal officer and the judge. And he went up getting detained, uh, in the bathroom, Um, beyond that now, given all the deals that ain't done. So, um, as of 2015, he still was, um, yeah, but again, it's, that's, the other problem is now they're all being released. You know, these Lennox steaks started in camp Booker Iraq, where they are all in detention together. So,

Speaker 3: Well, tell me about Islamic state. I mean, clearly dealing with the Taliban is one thing, uh, Schein, but, uh, Islamic state, from what we read see here, and I've had told to us was a completely different kettle of fish that they were, uh, absolute lunatic fanatics.

Speaker 2: Yes, they are. And I follow very similar, well, they have the similar, um, audiology, because it all started in the same place where this is all I hear him in the Mujahideen. And then, uh, they just took that fight backing to the middle East. Um, but you know, the origins of the Atlantic style started, uh, with, uh, um, you know, rocking well, actually Jordan, um, 2001, uh, was the Kyrie. Um, so they, um, again, they just believe that, um, Islam and the world's become corrupt. And, um, you know, we've got to go back to practicing Islam, law, practicing the dive Muhammad. And if you don't agree with this, then they're allowed to use whatever force they deem necessary to get you to join their ranks or take you out as a soldier. What did you,

Speaker 3: Where did you feel most at risk of Ghana, Stan or Iraq?

Speaker 2: No. Um, well, so I was in the second battle of Fallujah, uh, in, uh, October, November, December, 2004. And that was, um, the, uh, definition of house to house close combat. So I'm going to say Iraq on that one. Uh, I was, uh, well in, in, on the 7th of August, 2007, my room was hit with a one 22 millimeter Katyusha rocket. Um, so that was an interesting morning. Um, but, um, yeah, I would say from my personal experience, I felt more at danger in Iraq because I was also there at the time of the civil war. Uh, we met really broke out in 2004, 2005, um, and, and was safe at that time in that country. Um, whereas, uh, when I got to Afghanistan 2010, um, when you are any, we were very clinical, um, and very, um, methodical in our research and, you know, intelligence gathering and in our command and control that when we went somewhere, we knew why we were going there and what the effect we were trying to have. Whereas, you know, you talked to some of the Afghanistan, special operations veterans in the early days, you know, like operation Perth in the chore of value, into command on the SIS were up there. And, uh, you know, that was done battles of Vietnam magnitude, you know? Um, so, uh, for me personally, I would say Iraq, but others might have different opinions.

Speaker 3: It means how to die in the battle of Fallujah, what would it be like?

Speaker 2: Cool. Um, so there was no, no day, it was day night. So they, um,

Speaker 3: And I get you don't get up at nine in the morning, so right. Boys let's have an eight hour day.

Speaker 2: It was an amazing experience too, because I was attached to some, some Afghans. Um, but I remember the first thing that ever struck me was the American command. Uh, uh, just prior to high chow, giving a big speech as the Americans love to do. And he finishes finished it with now, men, I want you to be polite, be professional, but they prepared to kill everyone you make. And I'm like, Oh, um, but the thing is Ryan Nance, you've gotta be familiar with what happened to the Blackwater contractors and the first battle and that Fallujah and Ramadi, even to these days, the hot heartbeat of these landing stack to the heartbeat of that Sunni Salafi extremism, um, and the U S army built essentially a 50,000 person tent city to the North of Volusia at the dam and sexual Michael's look at this time and day, we're going to come in and get rid of all the bad people. So, um, you know, that I, and if you've seen the movie American sniper, that was that day, um, they would use children to their advantage and, um, women, and it was just truly, um, truly tiles.

Speaker 3: Did you, uh, you say you were in a room and you got hit by a Tusha rocket. Were you in other danger during that fight?

Speaker 2: Uh, yeah. Well, I've been, um,

Speaker 3: I know you don't want to I've applied, but I presume it was, it wasn't a picnic.

Speaker 2: No, no. The first time I got shot was on the 23rd of December, 2004. And that was in a plight thank God, uh, in, uh, South of Baghdad. Um, yeah. Yeah, there was, um, many occasions on many different days and nights where you're in danger, but, um, you know, it's, it's nothing that no one else has, has not been through that served in those, those conflicts. I remember in my first week in Afghanistan, one of the guys coming back from an operation and, you know, he think he in his plight, you know, a centimeter higher and he he's hit his neck. So I think every soldier that's, um, that's been in that kind of combat has got a story to tell

Speaker 3: You mentioned the Americans. And I mean, and clearly we see war movies and most of them are not very accurate, but the Americans and the way that they handle themselves is very different to what we do. But you had a particular relationship with a us Navy seal guy by the name of James Beard. How did you get to know James?

Speaker 2: So doc, um, so when I first, uh, got to Iraq, um, he went, um, I was down at, uh, uh, new, uh, the village of our co, which is about 40 kilometers, um, to the Iranian border. Um, and he was, um, one of our instructors, but he was also our, um, medic. So in their special operations system, um, they have, uh, Delta [inaudible] combat medics, you know, like we have medics and you hate being in the seal teams, um, for about 16 years. And, um, he was actually in Somalia for black Hawk down, um, and told us a few of the ground truths. And, um, he really, um, helped us, uh, and the goal is at all there's weeds in the initiation of what it was like to be in a third world country training third world, um, uh, you know, soldiers who really, um, didn't want to be the majority of them didn't want to be solved as it happened just after, um, the Dubai certification policy was enacted in Iraq.

Speaker 2: And so a lot of people arriving, men lost their jobs. So, um, they just wanted a job. Uh, it was also during Ramadan. So, you know, I had to learn all of that. It was 40 degrees during the day. And, uh, so he was really good because he'd had a lot of that experience in, he just say, you know, sit down and this, this is what will happen. Don't worry. Tomorrow is another die. And, um, yeah, he really, really helped me personally, um, becoming a much, uh, clear thinking soldier in, in conflict I guess, would be the easiest way. And then he was funny to be around. Um, yeah. Yeah. So the first time, you know, um, I was on a two way range, you know, after it, and he kind of looked at us and you could see where that was interesting. And he was like, welcome to the club fillers.

Speaker 2: Yeah, no, he was, he was, um, we still chat to an I, and, um, he works on, uh, pre deployment training for seal teams. So just like us, they've got to be certified before that. Um, you know, and, and, and he says the advanced meaning, uh, the opposition's abilities, um, has, is just amazing. And then we noticed that, um, our sales in Afghanistan and how the enemy would observe our, our, um, tactics and, and adjust really quick, um, which then that we had to do the same. So it was almost a dance that you constantly did with the enemy. And again, that's one of the things that's not very well reported is something that worked for us today might work for us tomorrow. So we had to constantly be, and that was why coming back from, uh, an operation that post-mission debriefs was so important.

Speaker 2: What did you see? What have we observed? Would it be key? You know, and part of my job in doing those discussions and interviews with the insurgents would be finding some of that out. And especially in the filmmaking space, some of the advanced technology that they were using and coming up with them ways to defeat our countermeasures. And, um, you know, um, for example, when, uh, corporate Scott Smith died, they were in a compound looking for, um, insertions for making out of wood. So our middle detectives couldn't detect them. Um, so, but yeah, so dock bed. So he taught me that, um, tomorrow's another day, uh, yes,

Speaker 3: We're having this chat for winded heroes who look after a lot of guys and girls that come back from serving overseas just before we wrap it up. I just want to get your view on that. Um, we now know, and it's a stat that's been thrown out a bit lately that more Australian soldiers have died, uh, at their own hand back here than we've lost in battle. Uh, since, uh, we went into Afghanistan and Iraq, um, I know you've you yourself, you've had your struggles with PTSD. Does the government and DVA do a good enough job looking after you guys when you get back here?

Speaker 2: Um, so yes and no. Um, you know, you go through your screening process, but I guess for me personally, I got retrospectively medically discharged. And when I saw that documentation, one of the lines, uh, say, you know, and, you know, it's literally one of the lines on the, on the phone. You know, he was a psychological wreck from 2011. I went, hang on, you let me deploy again in 2012 and 2014, why didn't you bring that to my attention in 2011, whereas now we're a mental health facility and I'm having some struggles. We could have fixed that back then. So, um, there is support there. And then when you do come forward and ask for help or get identified, um, you know, and they've helped me with all my treatment and helped me get my life back together. But I dunno, that's a hard one to answer because everyone has their own story.

Speaker 2: But what I will say is the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy, you've got to go through to actually get recognized for your, um, whether it be anxiety, depression, PTSD, or whatever, you know, you're suffering, suffering, individual. It just enhances it. Um, and then I think with some of the cases of the suicides, we've seen, that's been the case. I think it was, um, I forget, he's known that you had all these DDA letters, one out in East Bay before he took his lot. That's the hardest thing. And, and, you know, I personally, you know, um, even, you know, the other day I got a letter asking about, you know, you need to see a doctor and I'm like, you know, you've already deemed me to be this category.

Speaker 2: Then your anxiety goes through the roof again, you know, are they trying to what what's getting? What's this about where, um, I think there's no right or wrong answer. And every individual has their own battle and, um, experience. It's just not a linear one. Um, and you know, you get chucked around case officers. One minute, you're talking to Fred, then you'll get a phone call or a letter from Wilma sign. And then you've got to go through the whole, well, actually not, we discussed these, so this has already happened already done this. Um, and that's the nature of dealing with any organization that people come and go, but it just adds to the complexity and the frustrations. And then that builds to the depression of the individual. And that was certainly my case. At one stage, I was dealing with four different case offices that weren't talking to each other, um, and that exasperated a lot of more anxiety. And I know that a lot of my former colleagues, uh, going through and have gone through the same thing. So that's a hard one,

Speaker 1: Shane Healey, thanks for talking to us. Thanks for your service. Good on your mind, what a pleasure it's been to talk to a group of Australian veterans, please help winded heroes continue its important work by supporting our veteran of the day podcasts for extra information, media partnership, opportunities or programs, sponsorships, contact wounded heroes through their website, wounded heroes.org.edu, and direct your inquiries to Kim Dennis.

Supported by Wounded Heroes

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