Vietnam vet resigns after hug row
IT used to be a quick and simple display of friendliness.
But a hug of a female employee at the Caloundra RSL has turned pensioner and Vietnam veteran Darryl Turner's life upside down.
Mr Turner spent three months and $7500 challenging the RSL Club's decision to suspend him for at least two years after his hug was construed as something more.
He allegedly "inappropriately accosted" the staffer.
The man, who has hosted the RSL's trivia nights for six years, was a sub-branch committee member, helped with schools and events, and had never had a complaint against him, suddenly was thrown out of the place he considered his second home.
"The club and the sub-branch was my whole life," Mr Turner said.
"When this happened, they pulled the rug out from under me. I felt like I was being stabbed in the back by my fellow ex-servicemen and women."
Mr Turner and his wife Wendy hired a solicitor and challenged the decision.
The employee told Mr Turner's solicitor that she "didn't think anything of" the hug.
On June 15, the Services Tribunal in Brisbane found the complaint had not been proven after seeing CCTV evidence and hearing testimonies.
The club sent Mr Turner a letter on August 6 saying a decision was made to "reduce your suspension to time served".
He has received no apology for the embarrassment or an offer to pay his legal fees.
The couple are also receiving counselling for the stress the case has caused them.
"Hugging's been going on in the sub-branch for ages. It's a form of greeting," Mr Turner said.
"But the way they put it made it sordid. It was said I tried to stop her and said 'You need to give me a hug'.
"What I actually said was: 'What? Don't you give me a hug?' It was completely innocent."
Mr Turner felt he had no choice but to quit the sub-branch committee.
"I found out later they had been pushing to suspend me for life," Mr Turner said.
"I've received no apology and before they allowed me back in, they made me sit outside the boardroom.
"They're supposed to be ex-servicemen, people of my ilk.
"They could have dragged me aside and said 'This is inappropriate behaviour', instead I was just suspended."
RSL sub-branch president Barry Johnson said the sub-branch committee decided yesterday Mr Turner was a "disgruntled former member".
"He has resigned from sub-branch committee and there is no further comment," he said.