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RSL sacks veteran program coordinator - by email

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The state’s embattled Returned and Services League insists its “RSL Active” program will continue, despite having fired its coordinator by email amid mounting financial problems.

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Mark Reidy was appointed just last year to head up the program, with a June post on the Government’s Anzac Centenary website calling RSL Active a “new initiative to support the working age veteran”.

Incorporating weekly spin classes, cycling tours, walking groups and kayaking trips, the program – according to the release at the time – would be “led by Justin Brown and Mark Reidy at the RSL, and with mentoring and motivational support from ambassadors” such as cycling legend Stuart O’Grady.

But Reidy confirmed to InDaily he had been made redundant last week, the news imparted by an email from state RSL president Tim Hanna while he was at home on sick leave.

“I can confirm that,” he said.

“I don’t want to comment [but] it wasn’t really the nicest way to part ways.”

A veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, Reidy’s LinkedIn profile says his “passion in life now is to help others that are going through the battles of reintegrating into civilian life and the struggles that go with battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”, with which he was diagnosed in 2009.

Hanna said he wouldn’t “make any comment on staff matters”.

However he insisted the program remained “very much active”. Despite the website listing Reidy as the program’s coordinator, Hanna told InDaily that “Mark doesn’t look after RSL Active”.

“It comprises a range of programs, and Mark had some responsibility for coordinating one of those,” he said.

He conceded that with the not-for-profit desperate to cut costs as it deals with a cash-flow crisis, “we’re tailoring things to what we’ve got”, but noted that “most of the [RSL Active] activities rely on people getting together on a voluntary basis”.

“Those types of things will continue on,” he said.

But Reidy said he would be “moving the programs elsewhere” after his tenure ends later this week.

“Veterans are my passion… being a veteran myself, I just want to protect them – that’s what I love doing,” he said.

“I’m continuing doing that elsewhere… I don’t give up easily.

“It’s a great program, and very popular within the [veterans] community… it’s just a shame that the veterans have to suffer.”

Reidy’s sacking has left program participants outraged, with one telling InDaily: “I am ashamed that this is what it has come to.”

It’s understood Hanna told a recent special general meeting of the Morphett Vale sub-branch that a decision to hire two staff for RSL Active was a significant reason for the organisation’s financial disrepair. InDaily has been told he publicly suggested the decision was made by former CEO Julia Langrehr, who quit earlier this year. InDaily has attempted to contact Langrehr for comment.

Hanna did not confirm this account, saying: “I wouldn’t make any comment to do with matters to do with the CEO and the board.”

InDaily has also been told that a recent annual tradition of flying restored Tiger Moth aircraft over the Anzac Day march is in jeopardy, with the RSL unable to fund it this year.

Hanna said he was “not across that”, adding that the “Anzac Day committee puts together the program for Anzac Day, and there’s still some work to go in that regard”.

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