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Jon Hodge - Former Penola lad completes Middle East trip

Jon Hodge is the first to admit it’s a long way from Penola to the Middle East Area of Operations where the Army doctor has been applying his skills since before Christmas.

Lieutenant Colonel Hodge has just completed [28 MAY 14] more than six months deployed to Camp Baird, Australia’s base in the United Arab Emirates for Operation Slipper.

He said his role as the Senior Medical Officer supporting more than 1200 personnel across the Middle East, including both Afghanistan and the maritime environment, had been a great professional experience.

“I was the Senior Medical Officer for the Australian Defence Force in the Middle East which means I was responsible for ensuring that adequate health care was provided to ADF personnel across the MEAO including 400 in Afghanistan,” he said.

“This covers an enormous area, stretching from Afghanistan in the north to Tanzania in the south and from Bahrain in the west to the Indian Ocean in the east.

“As can be expected, threats to health across the region vary considerably, with the possibility of improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan, heat illness and vehicle accidents in the Middle East and tropical diseases such as yellow fever and malaria along the east African coast.”

LTCOL Hodge originally grew up in Penola and was educated at Penola Primary School and St Peter’s College in Adelaide.

He previously deployed to Iraq in 1991 and to East Timor in 2001 and is usually based at Gallipoli Barracks in Brisbane where he is the Senior Medical Officer for the 16th Aviation Brigade.

He is married to Dianne and has one son, James, aged 22, who both reside in Gaythorne, Queensland.  

His mother, Lois Hodge, still lives in Penola and he is looking forward to seeing her on his return to Australia.

“It’s a great feeling to come home after a long trip to see family and I’m especially looking forward to coming home and seeing mum turn 80 this year,” he said.

“On the professional front, one of the key highlights has been working with the Afghan Army Medical staff to look at ways of caring for their amputees in Kandahar and understanding some of the constraints they are under.”

Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts have shifted to a nationally-orientated mission throughout 2014, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

About 400 ADF personnel will continue to work in Afghanistan in 2014 through training and advising the ANSF in both Kabul and Kandahar. Approximately 800 personnel are deployed within the broader Middle East Area of Operations, including the maritime environment.