Brotherhood fills mateship void

Liam Croy

They certainly look mean, rolling through Rockingham on their Harley-Davidsons, leather vests covered in patches.

Their name sounds pretty menacing, too.

But perceptions aside, the Military Brotherhood MMC is a compassionate organisation that exists to support returning veterans - a self-proclaimed "RSL on Wheels".

Former Royal Australian Navy chief petty officer Simon "Wizard" Brown, 49, is the president of the club's Rockingham sub-branch, founded in October.

Mr Brown spent 20 years in the navy, including a sleep- deprived tour of the Gulf in 2002 aboard HMAS Canberra. He left the navy two years later, somewhat disillusioned after the Canberra's involvement in the US-led war on terror.

The Rockingham father of two has forged a new career in the private sector, but finding the Military Brotherhood gave the motorcycle enthusiast a new lease on life.

"When you leave the military you leave your mates behind," he said. "I got into my mid-40s and realised I didn't really have any mates.

"When I discovered the Military Brotherhood and saw that they existed for greater things than just riding motorycles, I thought, 'This is killing all the birds with one stone'."

Already, he has more than 50 members on his books.

Last week the sub-branch held its first charity ride for a post-traumatic stress disorder support group.

Mr Brown said he urges all new members to get involved with the RSL.

"We have great support from the RSL," he said. "I think there are a couple of older people who still see us as bikies and we go out of our way to wash their dishes."