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Jaye Griffin - Samford Valley

This International Women's Day (8 March), Jaye Griffin (née Chalmers) will be serving her country in Iraq, far away from Samford Valley where she grew up.

Now a Corporal in the Australian Army, Jaye is on a six-month deployment to provide training for Iraqi Security Forces.

"I lived in Samford most of my childhood and went to Samford Primary and Ferny Grove High School before moving to Melbourne to attend university," she said.

"I spent my twenties in a lab as a scientist and at the age of 33 I was looking for a new challenge and a more diverse work environment, so I joined the Army."

Based in Townsville, Jaye is a medic currently deployed to Iraq with Task Group Taji 4 – a combined force of around 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel.

"While I am a medic by trade, we have all been trained in basic soldiering skills and we’re teaching those skills to the Iraqis," she said.

"This includes anything from weapon handling and marksmanship through to setting up vehicle check points and clearing buildings in an urban environment."

Task Group Taji 4 is also providing Iraqi Security Forces with training in tactical movement, obstacle breaching, combined arms operations, medical first aid treatment and explosive hazard awareness training.

"Growing up in Samford, we always felt safe and didn't have to worry about suicide bombers or terrorist groups," Jaye said.

"Meeting the locals here, you realise they have not been so fortunate.

"They're genuinely appreciative of our efforts to train them so they can defeat Daesh, reclaim their country and maintain security for themselves."

On International Women's Day, Jaye will spend her day out on the rifle range sharing her knowledge with local Iraqis.

"I have been away from home since September and still have a while to go, but it's not me who is doing it hardest," she said.

"I am immensely proud of my husband who has been doing an amazing job with our seven year-old twins in my absence.

"I am also eternally grateful to my parents and my in-laws who have provided unwavering support."

When Jaye is not out delivering training, she is on the treadmill or pounding the pavement training for the Townsville Running Festival in August.

"I am enjoying my time here but I am looking forward to getting home," she said.

"I'm looking forward to spending time with my husband and kids and sipping a cold beer by the pool."

Jaye is deployed on Operation OKRA, as part of Task Group Taji 4 - a combined force of Australian and New Zealand Military personnel training Iraqi Security Forces to defeat Daesh and maintain security in Iraq. Jaye will return home in June.

Australia's Defence contribution to Iraq is named Operation OKRA, and includes a Special Operations Task Group, an Air Task Group and Task Group Taji.