A former Special Forces Commando has labelled the Defence Force’s request to revoke medals from soldiers for outstanding service “absolutely abhorrent”.

Wes ‘H’ Hennessey has started a petition after ADF chief General Angus Campbell announced the Special Operations Task Group Afghanistan citation would be taken off up to 3000 current or former soldiers.

The stripping of the Meritorious Unit Citation (2007-2013) came after the ADF Inspector General’s Brereton Inquiry referred 36 briefs to the Australian Federal Police for alleged war crimes by Special Forces including 23 unlawful deaths and two acts of cruelty.

Former Special Forces Commando Wes 'H' Hennessey CSM has taken a stand against requests by the Defence Force to revoke medals from soldiers for outstanding service labelling it “absolutely abhorrent.”. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Former Special Forces Commando Wes 'H' Hennessey CSM has taken a stand against requests by the Defence Force to revoke medals from soldiers for outstanding service labelling it “absolutely abhorrent.”. Picture: Patrick Woods.

General Campbell has told the Governor-general the citation should be revoked as a “collective responsibility” on the basis that the allegations by a few meant the whole unit did not show a “sustained outstanding service” as the citation requires.

Victoria Cross recipient Ben Roberts-Smith who has lived on the Coast has confirmed he was investigated but consistently denied any wrongdoing.

Mr Hennessey has spent 24 years in the military.

The decorated war veteran was deployed to 10 combat tours, including six deployments to Afghanistan.

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Former SAS soldier Wes 'H' Hennessey is concerned about the impact of mental health issues within the Australian Defence Force. Picture: Patrick Woods.
Former SAS soldier Wes 'H' Hennessey is concerned about the impact of mental health issues within the Australian Defence Force. Picture: Patrick Woods.

He said if the recommendation passed thousands of soldiers, some who died for their country, would have their medals revoked.

“Meritorious Unit Citation is for all persons who served in the task group, and they should not be tarnished or unjustly punished by the alleged actions of a few people,” he said.

“Honourable men who are no longer with us, our heroes, to revoke medals and rewards off these people we think is just absolutely abhorrent.”

Mr Hennessey said the General’s request failed to consider families of the fallen and other members who had been heavily impacted by the allegations.

“You would think at some stage within that four years that someone would have made some due consideration about who might be directly affected when these allegations were released and what information is released,” he said.

Former Special Forces Commando Wes ‘H’ Hennessey during Afghanistan deployment.
Former Special Forces Commando Wes ‘H’ Hennessey during Afghanistan deployment.

Mr Hennessey said the petition would be filed to the Governor-general to deny General Campbell’s recommendation to revoke the Meritorious Unit Citation.

The petition had more than 15,000 signatures on Saturday morning.

Mr Hennessey, a former Sunshine Coast resident, returns regularly to the Coast to “clear his head by the ocean”.

He said mental health within the Force was at “an all time low” with more than 50 soldiers having taken their lives in Australia in the past year – an increase of 33.5 per cent on the previous year.

“Morale in the Force as a whole is in a dire state,” he said.

Support services:

The Defence all-hours Support Line is a confidential telephone and online service for ADF members and their families 1800 628 036.

Open Arms provides 24-hour free and confidential counselling and support for current and former ADF members and their families 1800 011 046, or through SafeZone on 1800 142 072.