Hoping to heal old war wounds

PEACE: RJ Poole, Larisa Barnes, Margaret Loong and Sabina Baltruweitthe show off the new-look RaH logo.
PEACE: RJ Poole, Larisa Barnes, Margaret Loong and Sabina Baltruweitthe show off the new-look RaH logo.

FOR the past four years the Lismore-based peace group Remembering and Healing Old Wounds (RaHOW) has been conducting services around Anzac Day that commemorate all people, both military and civilians, who have suffered through wars, from all sides. The organisation has now shortened its name to Remembering and Healing (RaH) and has embarked on a process of setting up other groups across the country.

"We have to walk before we can run, but we are contacting other peace groups, putting the word out and encouraging local communities to establish their own version of RaH," spokesperson RJ Poole said.

Mr Poole served in the Australian Defence Force for six years, predominately with the elite SAS unit in Perth.

"You could say there's been a complete back flip (in my attitude) as a result of my experiences," he said.

He didn't serve in a war and didn't really wish to say much about his service other than that he was a part of a counter-terrorist group that he described as "Australia's frontline defence against terrorist attacks".

"There are many people that were formerly military personnel that have been traumatised for various reasons and don't want to be seen as weak or complaining, or disloyal to the institution they were a part of," he said.

"There are a lot of things that are difficult to talk about, but RaH wants to discuss these issues (the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder) and promote a peaceful future for us all."

Mr Poole was not a founding member of the group, but has been involved for several years and has just recently taken on the role of being their main spokesperson.

"Being from a military background, I'm in a strong position to talk about the subject."

He said RaH's position was that military action is necessary when there is a direct military threat, but that Australia should stop partaking in foreign wars.

"We are not a protest group or pacifist organisation, we are a peace organisation. We are not anti the Anzac tradition or the RSL, we are looking at providing a complementary or alternative to these things and mainstream Anzac Day celebrations."

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