How veterans’ needs have evolved in the 50 years since Vietnam.

This article was taken from NSW RSL magazine REVEILLE.

Academic and Army veteran Rodger Shanahan explores how the transition process and the needs of veterans have changed since Vietnam.

Interviewed by Chris Sheedy

At a glance:

  • Rodger Shanahan is an academic who spent 26 years in full-time service and now serves in the Army Reserve.
  • He says the label of ‘veteran’ encompasses a whole range of experiences, and so the needs of those veterans will also vary.
  • Shanahan says Defence is better equipped to support transitioning veterans than it once was.
  • Contrary to some assumptions, a veteran “is not automatically damaged”.

Rodger Shanahan is an academic and a 26-year Army veteran whose record includes operational service in Afghanistan, Beirut, South Lebanon, Syria, and East Timor.

We spoke about his experience in Defence and transitioning out, how the transition process has changed over the past 50 years, and why he’s returned to Reserve service.

You’ve said before that the label ‘veteran’ means very little. What do you mean by that?

You’re a veteran if you’ve served one day in the Reserves and you’re a veteran if you’ve served 35 years in the regular Army and done multiple tours. In my opinion, the definition is so broad that it loses clarity, in my opinion.

A veteran who is in the Air Force as a ground technician maintaining aircraft, for example, doesn’t have much in common with an infantry soldier who’s been in battalions and out in the field for long parts of their military career. They’re completely different experiences of the military. So to ask what veterans need depends on what kind of veteran they are.

It’s such a broad definition that it is very difficult to make any judgement about what a veteran thinks because you’re a product of your experience. It’s like saying, ‘What are an Australian’s needs?’. It varies greatly.

What assistance was available to you during your transition?

I know there were lectures you could attend about transitioning. But that was about it. I think the military is better placed these days to aid the transition.

I think, if you’ve been in for a long time, the period of transition can be quite difficult for people. It depends how easily you transition, I suppose. Lots of people prepare themselves and transition easily. Other people don’t.

The majority of my cohort transitioned relatively easily. They just found their own feet, by and large. But we were all regular military officers who’d been around for a long time and had qualifications. And so our needs and expectations were different from other people’s.

Speaking of the needs of soldiers and officers – how about those of conscripts? Have we learnt much from the Vietnam experience about assisting the transition process?

For a conscript in Vietnam, at the end of your tenure, you were simply told to go back into civilian life. That’s a completely unacceptable way to treat people. It’s different for full-time military people. They have a social contract with the government about their role which is implicit when they join, just like when people join other types of organisations.

It’s very difficult to take people off the street who wouldn’t normally join, and then train them up, deploy them and then release them back into society 12 or 15 months later. That is difficult and should only be used in extremis. Vietnam was not in extremis. It’s one of the strong arguments against conscript armies.

I think if you speak to the vast majority of regular Army people, they’d say conscription is the last thing you want. It sucks up a large amount of resources without providing much to an increasingly technologically advanced military, so the amount of return you get on investment is pretty limited.

You transitioned out in 2008 then spent four or five years in the Army Reserve. You’ve recently gone back into the Reserves, which seems to be a contemporary alternative to conscription that trains those actually willing to serve. Did that have anything to do with seeking a sense of belonging?

Not really. For some veterans, military service is their defining life experience. And so that’s how they forge their identity. RSL NSW provides a way of maintaining that connection, and that’s good. Some of my cohort are still connected with RSL NSW and still want to play a part in assisting other people.

Veterans are put on a bit of a pedestal in many ways. But ‘veterans’ covers a broad church. A large proportion of the veteran population doesn’t require assistance. Everybody’s military service is different.

Every paramedic sees much worse trauma on a much more regular basis than a veteran, for instance. Police officers are the same. So I think we have to be very careful about how we look at veterans and assumptions we make about how many veterans actually have issues.

A veteran is not automatically damaged.

RSL NSW welcomes veterans of any age to join the organisation. Access support services and become part of a like-minded community of peers – become a member of RSL NSW.

161 Battery Reunion – Australia

I am very glad to finally post the details of the reunion.

Dates and location:

Friday 20th to Sunday 22nd October 2023, inclusive. As promised, these have not changed.

To be held at the Campbelltown RSL, 1 Carberry Ln, Campbelltown NSW 2560.


Friday 20th October 2023 – arrive, meet in the RSL for sundowner and catchup.

Saturday 21st – events TBA, a buffet dinner in a private room with bar service. Including short commentary and feedback.

Sunday 22nd – Farewell breakfast and depart.

Further detail will be fleshed out in due course.

Accommodation and Travel:

We did try to obtain a group booking to reduce the cost; however, the hotels were willing to take the booking but with very little discount.

The accommodation and travel are for everyone to organise themselves.

Below is a list of hotels in the vicinity of the RSL. Most are around 1 Km away, except the Maclin which is around 300 meters or so.

IBIS, Ridges (most expensive), Quest, Maclin, and Hermitage.
There is a train that leaves Sydney Airport and stops at Campbelltown.

Reunion Registration:

Registration is important for various reasons. Please send me an email with the following;
Name, email address, phone number and city of residence.


Please send any comms to me, by email or Messenger. Please do not use Facebook, as I do not monitor it and have turned off notifications. Two reasons; there’s too much fluff posted by people I don’t know and FB is very insecure.
My email is: [email protected]
Mobile: 0429 528 378 (Australia)

Reunion Cost and Payment:

We have booked a private room with a bar and buffet dinner for Saturday night. The cost is $100 per person. This is based on a minimum of 40 people.

The $100 does not include drinks.

Two important issues here.

1. We need to pay this upfront. So, in the next say 2 months we need full payment from everyone. Banking details for payment are below.
2. If we don’t get a minimum of 40 people, then the price will increase.
With the level and interest and excitement the idea of this reunion has produced, I believe with partners will well exceed 40.

Banking Details:

Chook (Ron Fowell), has set up a bank account, I have cut and pasted the details below.

VERY IMPORTANT: – your proper name (not army nickname, or no name at all) must be put in the banking details so we can account for who has paid and who has not.

Bank: St George Bank
10 Oxford Rd Ingleburn
NSW 2565
BSB: 112-879
A/C: 498 156 271
Swift Code: SGBLAU2S
Account Name: Ronald G Fowell

The Swift Code numbers are for those that are sending funds from overseas transactions

All participants must have my contact details

21 Dunkeld Place
St Andrews
NSW 2566
Phone 0425 326 838

This from Skin

161 Battery Reunion – Australia

The very sad passing of Joe Subritzky and Trotty recently reminds me of the reason why Chook and I decided to organise this reunion. It is to see as many people as possible we severed with, at least once more. With Joe and Trotty passing on, it is a reminder to all of us, we are no longer the fit young men we once were. In following people up I have found there are a number who cannot come to the reunion, due to serious health issues.

This may be the last chance of catching up with people that we hold fondly in our memories. And to retell funny stories and occurrences, with of course the embellishment of time and faded memory, but funny nonetheless.

To this end, I have a list of names of those that are coming so far. I am sure everyone reading this will have a smile when seeing the names and memories come to the fore.

(Names of attendees so far excluded because of Privacy Act concerns. Anybody who wants to see the names already attending, please get in touch with Skin at [email protected]  for a list of names; John McNicol Secretary RNZA Association.)

I know there is a number who are coming but have not registered yet, and I urge everyone to do so soon.

Lastly, although there are 6 months before the reunion, we need the registration and payment ASAP. We need to pay upfront soon, and we need more people to come to break even. Late payments will cause some issues for us.



A Super-Armoured Assault Carrier.

The Ukrainians Popped the Turret off A T-64 Tank and Produced A Super-Armoured Assault Carrier

By David Axe

Ukraine has transformed at least one of its T-64 tanks into what appears to be a heavily armoured personnel carrier. And not just any APC, but one that works best while advancing toward the enemy.

That’s because the T-64-based APC is heavily armoured along its front, but much more thinly armoured along its sides and back.

If it’s facing Russian troops, the new APC could shrug off heavy machine gun fire, autocannon shells, artillery fragments and possibly even cannon fire from Russia’s older tanks.

The weird new vehicle showed up in a photo and video, apparently shot in or around the eastern city of Bakhmut, that circulated online on Sunday.

The APC seems to combine the chassis of a T-64 tank with a simple steel superstructure replacing the tank’s turret and main gun.

The superstructure might be a kind of passenger compartment. It’s unclear whether the passengers—an infantry squad, presumably—enter via top hatches or a crude rear door.

There’s a heavy machine gun and banks of smoke grenades on top of the APC’s superstructure. A vehicle like this might have a crew of two: driver and commander.

What’s most striking about the T-64-based APC is the extensive application of Kontakt reactive armour blocks—seemingly hundreds of them. These brick-like modules, which explode outward to deflect incoming shells and missiles, cover nearly the entire frontal arc of the new vehicle—except for the treads.

A standard T-64 hull already is well-protected with layers of steel and fibreglass that, thanks to the hull’s sharp angles, provide the same level of protection against high-explosive shells offered by 600 millimetres of steel. Adding reactive armour can double the effective protection.

To put that into perspective, a thousand millimetres or more of equivalent protection should be enough to defeat most attacks at typical engagement ranges. Even a direct hit by one of those aged T-55 tanks Russia is reactivating.

This is not to say the T-64 APC is invulnerable. Far from it. The welded-on superstructure appears to be a simple steel plate. And it’s vertical and square, so its angles don’t offer additional protection. And most of the superstructure has no reactive armour.

Hit the APC from the sides or behind, and even a 30-millimetre autocannon might chew right through it. The new vehicle should keep its front to the enemy—its natural disposition on the attack. All, the T-64-turned-APC is an assault APC.

The weird new vehicle’s appearance in Bakhmut, 14 months into Russia’s wider war on Ukraine, shouldn’t be terribly surprising. Both the Ukrainian and Russian armies are trying to make good heavy losses of modern vehicles by crafting new, improvised vehicles from various leftover hulls, turrets and weapons.

Some might work pretty well: Ukraine’s MT-LB-12 self-propelled howitzers, for example. Others, such as the armoured tractors Russia has armed with old naval guns, are embarrassingly awkward.

Ukrainian industry already had some experience transforming a T-64 into an armoured personnel carrier. Perhaps inspired by the Israelis, who for decades have modified old tank hulls into thickly armoured personnel carriers, the Kharkiv Tank Plant around 2014 developed a boutique T-64 APC it called the BTR-64E.

The Kharkiv factory only built one BTR-64E that we know of, and the prototype’s ultimate fate is a mystery. In comparison to the T-64 APC that appeared in Bakhmut, the BTR-64E required extensive changes to the basic T-64 hull.

Kharkiv technicians “flipped” the T-64 by moving the 700-horsepower diesel engine from the back to the front of the hull. That, combined with the removal of the turret and ammunition stowage, created a huge empty space in the back and middle of the vehicle. Kharkiv installed a rear door and seats for 10 passengers.

That elegant layout kept the BTR-64E’s profile low and made the best use of its internal volume. By contrast, the current T-64 APC clearly is expedient.

Rather than moving around the internal automotive components—a painstaking process—its builders simply added the passenger compartment on top of the engine, resulting in the tall, hunchback profile.

The T-64 APC is a compromise between protection and ease of production. But a beneficial one for the Ukrainian army and defence industry. The army needs many hundreds more APCs and infantry fighting vehicles than it has—and better-protected ones, to boot.

Industry meanwhile is sitting on several hundred old, inactive T-64s that, after 30 years mouldering in some warehouse or open tank park, might be too far gone to restore … as tanks. Electronic fire controls and delicate glass optics tend to degrade fast while not in daily use with frequent maintenance.

But an APC doesn’t need fire controls and optics. It just needs a working engine and an intact hull. If the army puts its new T-64 APC through its paces and is pleased with the results, the Kharkiv Tank Plant presumably could produce hundreds more similar vehicles.

Optimized for attacks, they could be highly useful as Ukrainian troops shift from defence to offence and try to seize the initiative from the Russians.


Vale 2789495 Peter William Groves – RAA

We have received advice of the death on 23 March 2023 of Peter William
Groves. He was 75. Peter served with 105th Field Battery in Vietnam from
February 1969 until February 1970.

He was a dual life member of the 105th Battery Association and was a regular attendee at Association reunions, parades and commemorations, particularly Binh Ba Commemorations.

RIP Peter William Groves.

Peter Bruce, OAM
Obituary Resource Officer

OUTAGE – Beyond our control


You would have noticed that over the past eight days, no email posts were delivered, unfortunately, it was three days before I realised as it turned out the problem was with the mail distribution company (Zoho) that delivers my bulk mail had a complete outage. This meant that my posts were not delivered to your inbox, post were available to the website as I post directly to the site.

Zoho fixed the problem, slower than I expected, and the mail went out yesterday afternoon. As usual, when something like this happens a lesson is learnt we will now know immediately if there is an outage on their end.

Been a busy morning … up at 2:30am to enjoy a beautiful morning in a Hotair Balloon. Could not have had better weather conditions as we travelled from Canungra out over Scenic Rim – outstanding. We finished with an enjoyable breakfast at O’Rielly’s Vineyard.



Road rule mistakes you might be making in NSW.

NSW drivers and visitors (don’t yet) start your engines because you’re about to get the schooling that may surprise you.

Did you know that some of your seemingly innocent driving habits might be landing you in hot water with the law? To save you some serious wallet damage and demerit points, we’ve rounded up some of the road rules you may not know you’re breaking while driving in NSW.

Speeding up to yellow traffic lights

When it comes to traffic lights, many Aussie drivers mistakenly believe it’s ok to gun it and pray to the traffic gods. But Yellow actually means stop. Next time you see a yellow light, remember to hit the brakes or pay the price.

It’ll cost you $469 fine and 3 demerit points, and just so you know, it’s $587 and 4 demerit points if you’re within a school zone.

Using high beams

It’s not just annoying, it’s dangerous to use your high beams when driving less than 200 metres behind a vehicle in the same direction or an oncoming vehicle.

It’ll cost you $112 fine and one demerit point.

Not keeping safe following distances

All drivers have experienced them, but the truth is, no one likes a tailgater. And for good reason. Drivers must keep a good amount of distance behind the vehicle in front of them to avoid a collision. Not sure whether you’re staying far away enough from the car in front? Try selecting a mark or object on the left-hand side of the road and count “one thousand one, two thousand two, three thousand three” as the rear of the vehicle ahead passes the object.

Plus, don’t forget to increase your distance during poor driving conditions, such as rain or dim light. It’ll cost you $469 fine and 3 demerit points.

Beeping the horn and waving

An innocent beep to say goodbye after visiting family or friends could put you at risk of not one but two fines. Honking the horn is one thing, but if you think waving your hands or arms out of the window is a good alternative, think again!

It’ll cost you $349 fine for beeping the horn and $349 for waving.

Throwing an apple core from a car Biodegradable?

Feeding the local fauna? Right? Wrong. Throwing food scraps is not only seen as littering in the eyes of the law (not a normal part of the surroundings or environment), but it can be dangerous to wildlife and other drivers by encouraging animals to come to the edge of the road for food.

It’ll cost you $450 and no points

Driving with an animal or child on your lap

Sounds like a good idea at the time, but not so good when you cop a hefty fine. It’s a serious road violation as a driver must have proper control of the vehicle, and having an animal or another person on your lap while driving is not considered to have proper control.

It’ll cost you $481 fine and three demerit points, with harsher rules in school zones.

Though they may seem innocent, they’re not in the eyes of the law. You’ll thank us next time you go to commit any of these common offences on the way to your next destination! Happy (and safe) driving.

BE AWARE – Never use the charging port at an airport

By Thomas Bywater

The FBI has handed us another reason for travel paranoia.

Airport public charging stations are a lifesaver. If, like me, you travel with a perpetually half-drained phone – the ubiquitous USB charging ports are the difference between catching a flight, and not.

Carrying virtual boarding passes, itineraries and travel documentation on your phone requires keeping an eye on battery life. However, last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigations put out a warning for travellers to think twice before plugging in.

“Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centres,” the FBI said in public service messaging last week.

The Denver branch of the organisation sent a tweet last week that rattled travellers. Although the warning was not believed to be linked to any specific threat, several government agencies issued similar warnings for travellers to be mindful of their “cyber hygiene” when charging phones in public places.

It’s increasingly possible for “bad actors” to access data, or introduce malware and spyware on travellers’ devices via public ports.

USB ports are hard to avoid. You’ll find them, free of use, at international airports, cafes and hotels. However, experts are warning that people could be using their convenience to gain access to users’ information.

New Zealand’s cyber security agency CERT says it also advises travellers to avoid charging phones in public places.

Avoid using free charging stations in airports, hotels or shopping centres. Bad actors have figured out ways to use public USB ports to introduce malware and monitoring software onto devices. Carry your own charger and USB cord and use an electrical outlet instead.

— FBI Denver (@FBIDenver) April 6, 2023

Cert NZ spokesman Hadyn Green says “do not plug your devices into unknown USB ports.”

Cert was aware of scammers using devices, posing in public places as charging ports.

The only way to be sure you aren’t exposing your device is by using a mains adaptor.

“This can be difficult as new phones are sold without a power plug and only the USB cable. So before you travel it’s worth buying a plug so you’ve got a safe option for charging your device.”

Travel adaptors with USB fittings or multi-plugs can be a good way of keeping devices charged safely, on the go.

Has my phone been infected?

Losing battery life quickly, overheating or higher data usage can be a sign your device might be infected. Spyware working in the background of your phone can slow down operations.

Cert advises keeping your files and mobile data backed up – using services such as iCloud – and keeping your phone up to date.

Public charging ports aren’t the only cyber trap targeting travellers. Public Wi-Fi can also expose your devices and data to potential scams.

“Be careful about what you do online when you’re using a hotspot or free Wi-Fi. These networks are untrusted, meaning that it’s possible that others could see what you’re doing when you use them.”

Travellers should avoid online shopping or accessing Internet banking on public Wi-Fi.


Vale 1731009 Tadeusz (Teddy) Miekus – RAA

Brian Collins, Secretary of the 101 Battery Association has passed on the following information regarding Teddy Miekus.

“It is with sadness that I inform you of the passing of 1731009 Tadeusz “Teddy” MIEKUS.

Teddy’s family advised the Association that Teddy passed away in July 2022, he had early dementia, but cancer was the cause of his death.
Teddy was 77years of age and is survived by his wife Marie and his son Chris. Teddy served with 101 Battery in South Vietnam from 19 Sep 66 to 10 Jun 67 and was a Life Subscriber to our Association.”

R.I.P. Teddy

Peter Bruce, OAM
Obituary Resource Officer

Vale 2784005 Bradley Keating AM – RAEME

Of Beresfield / Morpeth NSW

Brad passed away last Sunday at the East Maitland Private Hospital, after a short illness, being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Brad was a Nation Serviceman. I have attached his Service Record. Following his service in Vietnam he served in the CMF/Reserves for many years retiring as a Major, for his service he was awarded an AM.

He is survived by his wife Jan, son Todd, daughter Amanda and two grandchildren.

I served with Brad in Vietnam at 102 Field Workshop in 1967.

Brad was a very valued member of the East Maitland RSL Sub Branch.

His funeral will be held in St Peters Anglican Church, William Street, East Maitland, NSW on Friday 21st April commencing at 2:00pm

The Funeral will be lived streamed by Fry Bros


Neil Cromarty OAM


230417 – 2784005 KEATING Bradley – Army – Third Party Eulogy

New Zealand and Australian army chiefs strengthen relationship with signing of new plan.

Photo: New Zealand Chief of Army Major General John Boswell (right) and Australian Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart signing Plan Anzac in Wellington. Photo / Supplied

New Zealand’s army has announced a new plan it says will strengthen its relationship with Australia.

Chief of the New Zealand Army, Major General John Boswell, has called the plan – dubbed Plan Anzac – “a significant step forward” in their partnership with our friends across the Tasman.

“As close neighbours and allies, we have a mutual commitment to support each other’s security, closely coordinate our efforts in the South Pacific and maintain a shared focus on the security and stability of our wider region,” Boswell said.

“This plan ensures our armies can continue to effectively contribute to that.”

Co-operation between the two nations’ special forces was specifically mentioned in the announcement as being continued with the plan.

The plan is said to create a “formalised framework” for already established work streams, including sustained cooperation across strategic engagement, capability, training, readiness and common personnel issues.

New Zealand and Australia have shared a long military history, dating back to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps fighting in the Gallipoli campaign during World War I which forged the Anzac legend in both countries.

Boswell added the agreement will ensure the relationship between the two armies is kept open, based on mutual respect and is enduring.

“This agreement will make sure both armies can work as efficiently as possible, complementing each other’s capabilities and capacity,” Boswell said. The strategy will strike a compromise between maintaining sovereign capability and the ability to operate in support of independent joint force operations, as well as the enduring traits of the Anzac alliance, such as close integration in capabilities, training and readiness.

The cooperation of the two countries in support of shared goals for increased inter-operability and standards as participants in the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies’ Programme is another significant result of the strategy.

In order to improve long-term operational inter-operability between a New Zealand Special Operations Task Group and an Australian Special Operations Task Force on combined or multinational special operations missions, cooperation between the nations’ special forces will also continue as a part of the plan.

“Our armies have a deep history of operational service, organisational co-operation, regional partnerships and mateship. For more than a century, we have served our nations, supported global peace and upheld regional stability – together. We will continue to do just that,” Boswell said.

Last month, Australia also confirmed it will purchase US-manufactured, nuclear-powered attack submarines to modernise its fleet amid growing concerns about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.


“It provides a focus and framework to take ongoing conversations and engagements between allies and mates and formalise these to improve existing cooperation.

“We will be able to better share lessons across capability development, doctrine for training and many other areas related to the generation, and in the New Zealand Army’s current case, the regeneration of land combat capability.”

Photo: Australian Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart receiving a formal welcome at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park in Wellington. Photo / Supplied

The strategy will strike a compromise between maintaining sovereign capability and the ability to operate in support of independent joint force operations, as well as the enduring traits of the Anzac alliance, such as close integration in capabilities, training and readiness.

The cooperation of the two countries in support of shared goals for increased inter-operability and standards as participants in the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand armies’ Programme is another significant result of the strategy.

In order to improve long-term operational inter-operability between a New Zealand Special Operations Task Group and an Australian Special Operations Task Force on combined or multinational special operations missions, cooperation between the nations’ special forces will also continue as a part of the plan.

“Our armies have a deep history of operational service, organisational co-operation, regional partnerships and mateship. For more than a century, we have served our nations, supported global peace and upheld regional stability – together. We will continue to do just that,” Boswell said.

Last month, Australia also confirmed it will purchase US-manufactured, nuclear-powered attack submarines to modernise its fleet amid growing concerns about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.

The purchase agreement for Virginia-class submarines was announced when US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak met in San Diego for talks on the nuclear partnership known by the acronym Aukus.

China accused the Aukus alliance of stirring up an “arms race”.

Photo: A US Virginia Class submarine that visited Western Australia recently. Photo / Supplied