Lieutenant Kathryn Staughton is proof that when it comes to following your dreams and serving your country, it’s never too late.
“I commissioned as an Officer in the Australian Army in January 2017 because I thought I had a skill-set that I could offer and I was looking for a challenge to demonstrate that us ‘old girls’ still have it,” she said.
LT Staughton is currently on her first deployment as a Scientific Officer with Task Group Taji 6 at Taji Military Complex in Iraq, where she has been based since December 2017.
“I work at the Role 1E medical facility here at Camp Taji, providing general health support to the Task Group, and in the Pathology lab in my role as a Scientific Officer,” Kathryn said.
While being on her first deployment in her first year of service has been a highlight of her military career to date, it’s the challenges of Army life that LT Staughton finds rewarding.
“My career has already presented me with opportunities that so few people get, not just professionally but personally,” she said.
“Forging friendships under difficult circumstances with amazing people from different nations has been a big part of my experience, as well as being able to extend myself personally and ‘think outside the box’.
“Being here has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible.”
There have been other highlights to Kathryn’s deployment that she didn’t anticipate at all.
“Flying over Baghdad in a helicopter is a ‘money can’t buy’ experience and the local baklava is just amazing.”
Despite the experiences of deployment life, Kathryn is looking forward to returning to life at home with her daughter Stella and spending time with her parents, Elwyn and Daph Hargens.
“Spending downtime with my family and friends is first on my ‘to do’ list when I get home. I look forward to having a laugh about my adventures with them when I get back.”In the meantime though, LT Staughton keeps busy between work, the gym and spending time with her deployment family.
“I love going to the gym and working really hard then hanging out with awesome friends here and enjoying a laugh,” she said.
“I find the time to keep connections with family and friends back home as there is a certain luxury of time when all the daily life jobs are done for you.
“The best thing has been to remember how good it is to have a laugh.”
Task Group Taji is deployed as part of Operation OKRA, the Australian Defence Force's contribution to the US-led Global Coalition to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq and Syria.
This Anzac Day, approximately 1800 Australian Defence Force personnel will be deployed on operations in the Middle East region.