New Zealand war hero and Victoria Cross recipient Corporal Willie Apiata's decision to leave the army may have been sparked by a request for leave.
ONE News understands Apiata had asked for more time off to spend with his family, and had threatened to leave the Defence Force before.
In a statement this evening the SAS Corporal said it was hard to bring an end to his 23 years of military service.
"This has been a decision that I have not taken lightly and it is one that has taken me many months to make. I am leaving to pursue my goals and to grow with my family," he said.
"I am very proud of my service with the NZDF and I am very grateful for all of the support I have received from the NZSAS and the NZDF."
Apiata was given the highest award for bravery in 2007 after rescuing a wounded comrade under fire when their patrol was attacked in Afghanistan in 2004.
Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman confirmed his departure this afternoon and paid credit to his great service.
"Willie Apiata VC has been an outstanding member of the NZDF, his decoration speaks for itself and we wish him all the best in his future career," he said.
Apiata, 39, had been a member of the Defence Force for 23 years, spending 10 years in the elite SAS.
Former SAS member Joe Glenn told ONE News Apiata's life and role in the army had changed after he was awarded the VC, but he remained at his rank of Corporal.
"So why hasn't he been promoted to at least a Sergeant? Maybe these are the sort of things that he's said: 'well Victoria Cross or not, I'm not going to be promoted so I may as well be a civilian and enjoy what I'm doing."
The Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, said Apiata had to adjust to being a celebrity once his actions became known.
"Since the award was announced on 2 July 2007, Corporal Apiata has worked extremely hard to discharge his new responsibilities as a public figure, while also maintaining his role as a member of the New Zealand Special Air Service Regiment," Jones said.
"The NZ Defence Force thanks Corporal Apiata for his significant contribution and wishes him well with his future career."
Apiata will take up a job with an Auckland charity, the Highwire Trust, which supports at risk youth.
Jones said Apiata told the army several months ago of his intention to stand down from regular service, but the VC hero will remain in the Defence Force's reserves.
ONE News understands almost two dozen members of New Zealand's special forces have left this year, and the Defence Minister has confirmed around five badged SAS members like Corporal Apiata, have recently quit
Faced with full time training in Papakura rather than action overseas, some have opted for lucrative security contracts.
"There's a number of things that we will be doing to make sure the regiment is engaged in the long term, having pulled out of Afghanistan," Coleman said.
"Things go through cycles, obviously after coming through a tough rotation of deployment in Afghanistan people will be for a variety of reasons looking at various options and assessing their life, but the regiment has a great future."
Coleman said he understood morale in the SAS was high at the
moment, but the troops were keen to know what the future held for