People who survived horrendous abuse at navy and army training centres have told a national inquiry how the ADF let them down.
A Vietnam vet became emotional as he told how he just wanted to serve his country but instead had his life ruined by vicious abuse at a naval training base.
Glen Greaves was one of five men who told a royal commission hearing in Sydney on Tuesday of sexual and physical abuse when they were 16 at HMAS Leeuwin in Perth in the late 60s and early 70s.
Mr Greaves, who went to Vietnam when he was 17, broke down as he recalled how he was held down by senior recruits at the training centre and assaulted with a broom handle when he refused to have oral sex.
His story of bastardisation, victimisation, brutal physical beatings and sexual assault was echoed in the evidence of other witnesses who all said abuse at the training centre was systemic.
Mr Greaves and the other men are telling their stories publicly for the first time despite several investigations of abuse at Leeuwin.
The first of these investigations was in 1971 by Judge T Rapke.
Mr Greaves said boys who were battered and had broken limbs were kept hidden when the judge visited the base.
He said the latest intake of recruits were called new grubs.
When he went to complain to a petty officer about one incident he was told to "piss off" and "harden up".
Mr Greaves, who wore a number of service medals on his jacket lapel, said, "I wore my medals for a reason; I love my country and I wanted to serve my country and I regret that some of my teenage years weren't the way I planned."
When he sought compensation for sexual abuse at the naval base he was told he would have to repay the disability pension he had received after Vietnam.
The commission is looking at ADF child protection policies and procedures as they related to Leeuwin, an army apprentice school, Balcombe, Victoria and more recently ADF Cadets.
Another HMAS Leeuwin former recruit Graeme Frazer recounted similar abuse.
He was once knocked unconscious when he was forced to run a gauntlet while being beaten with pillows filled with irons and boots.
Mr Frazer said there were some people in Defence who still think "it is OK to break people down by whatever means necessary" and he hoped that would change in the future.
He told the commission it was not until 2013 that the Navy through the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce finally acknowledged the abuse and apologised.
Like Mr Greaves, Mr Frazer had gone through the Department of Veteran Affairs for compensation when health problems which could be traced to the abuse surfaced - his claim was twice rejected.
Earlier on Tuesday another survivor CJA told how he was repeatedly forced to have oral sex and ordered to rape other recruits by Leeuwin base staff.
He, too, was told he should "suck it up".
"I learnt valuable lessons of what happened to those who complained," he said.
"I watched a cook masturbate and ejaculate into an officer's mashed potatoes, before returning it to the officer," CJA said.
The commission continues on Wednesday when it will hear from former officers at HMAS Leeuwin including former chaplain Peter Ball.