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Former SAS soldier Heston Russell reveals what it’s REALLY like to be in the elite armed forces

It’s the toughest reality show on TV, but according to former SAS soldier Heston Russell, SAS Australia doesn’t even begin to compare to real life.

In an interview with Triple M’s Moonman In the Morning on Wednesday, Russell revealed what actual SAS soldiers are forced to endure, and spoke about who he thinks has what it takes to go the distance on the show.

Russell described the training process to become an SAS soldier as ‘the hardest thing I’ve actually done in my career’, and revealed 80 per cent of the recruits ‘withdraw by request’. 

Making comparisons: It’s the toughest reality show on TV, but according to former SAS soldier Heston Russell (pictured), SAS Australia doesn’t even begin to compare to real life

He said the show is ‘definitely nothing quite like the real thing’, given that the actual course involves working with already trained soldiers as opposed to ‘people straight off the street’.

‘But it’s the same principles as far as breaking people down to accessible objectives and then exposing their true personality, 100 per cent the same mechanisms are in play,’ he added.

Russell said the biggest difference is that the instructors aren’t ‘in your face, yelling at you’ in real life.

Behind the scenes: In an interview with Triple M's Moonman In the Morning on Wednesday, Russell revealed what actual SAS soldiers are forced to endure, and spoke about who he thinks has what it takes to go the distance on the show. Pictured, a scene from SAS Australia

Behind the scenes: In an interview with Triple M’s Moonman In the Morning on Wednesday, Russell revealed what actual SAS soldiers are forced to endure, and spoke about who he thinks has what it takes to go the distance on the show. Pictured, a scene from SAS Australia

He explained ‘that doesn’t really work so well for already trained soldiers’, who are instead subjected to prolonged periods of silence or isolation.

As often mentioned by the instructors on SAS Australia, Russell insisted that the training has less to do with being physically fit and is more about mental endurance.

‘We would have some people towards the end where we would have to physically stop activities because these people would break their arm or leg before their heart or mind would let them give up,’ he added.

Toughing it out: Russell described the training process to become an SAS soldier as 'the hardest thing I've actually done in my career', and revealed 80 per cent of the recruits 'withdraw by request'

Toughing it out: Russell described the training process to become an SAS soldier as ‘the hardest thing I’ve actually done in my career’, and revealed 80 per cent of the recruits ‘withdraw by request’

Russell said that out of all the celebrity recruits on SAS Australia, he believes comedian Merrick Watts has what it takes to go the distance.

‘You can see his internal purpose. His fire is going to carry him further than his body is going to allow him. I’m worried he’s going to burn himself out and hurt himself. But he is on there for a mental and emotional purpose,’ he explained.

After leaving the armed forces in 2017, Russell admitted he suffered ‘a loss of identity, a loss of confidence and loss of purpose’.

Staying power: Russell said that out of all the celebrity recruits on SAS Australia, he believes comedian Merrick Watts (pictured) has what it takes to go the distance

Staying power: Russell said that out of all the celebrity recruits on SAS Australia, he believes comedian Merrick Watts (pictured) has what it takes to go the distance

‘I was actually a closeted gay man during my entire service, for no other reason than I didn’t want to bring it as a factor,’ he added.

He said he moved to the USA with his boyfriend for a while, where he helped set up Barry’s Bootcamp, but confessed that over the past two years, he ‘really lost my way’.

‘It led me basically to one of the lowest places I’ve ever been two months ago, where I considered taking my own life,’ he said.

Struggles: After leaving the armed forces in 2017, Russell admitted he suffered 'a loss of identity, a loss of confidence and loss of purpose'

Struggles: After leaving the armed forces in 2017, Russell admitted he suffered ‘a loss of identity, a loss of confidence and loss of purpose’

Russell said he only began to heal after discovering other soldiers he’d previously been responsible for were experiencing similar things.

Since leaving the military, Russell has established Voice of a Veteran, a platform which allows other ex-servicemen and women ‘to speak and be heard’.

Their mission is ‘to take action to stop other veterans from suffering in silence and being misunderstood’. 

Differences: Russell said the biggest difference is that the instructors aren't 'in your face, yelling at you' in real life. Pictured, a scene from SAS Australia

Differences: Russell said the biggest difference is that the instructors aren’t ‘in your face, yelling at you’ in real life. Pictured, a scene from SAS Australia


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