Mothers Day love from Iraq
11 May 2017
For one group of mums, Mother’s Day has special significance this year as they enter the final stage of their deployment with Task Group Taji 4 in Iraq.
The combined force of 300 Australian and 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel includes 13 mums who have been deployed with the Task Group since November last year.
Colonel Su Winter, Director of Clinical Services at the Taji Military Complex, 20km north of Baghdad, said Mother’s Day was an opportunity to recognise the contribution of mums to operations past and present.
“As a mother myself who has deployed several times, I felt it was important to recognise the contribution that mothers make to the Australian Defence Force,” Colonel Winter said.
“My teenage daughter is managing brilliantly, but it’s still hard being away from her and my husband for such a long period of time
“The mothers here at Taji are very supportive of each other – we bring our own set of skills and life experiences to the Task Group.”
For 39-year-old Corporal Jaye Griffin, from Queensland, that set of skills now includes experience in training Iraqi Security Forces as Iraq continues its fight against the Daesh terrorist group in Mosul.
Corporal Griffin joined the army at the age of 33 after completing a PhD in plant biotechnology.
Already a mother to twin girls, she expected to work away from home as part of her new career.
“It’s challenging being away from my kids and missing out on their milestones, but I’m really lucky to have a very supportive husband at home,” Corporal Griffin said.
“It’s rewarding to know I’m helping people.
“By training the Iraqis we’re helping them and helping to protect Australia from terrorism.
“My husband and my family are very proud of my role here.
“My kids are also very supportive – they often ask me ‘what are you teaching them mum?’ - they take an interest in what I do.”
For 46-year old medic Private Sam Paraha, a mother of five, being deployed with Task Group Taji 4 has been an opportunity to inspire her sons and daughters aged between 18 and 23.
“This year, Mother’s Day is a reflective time for me – I’m thinking about my kids, particularly my eldest son who turns 23 on Mother’s Day,” Private Paraha said.
“It’s a time to be grateful I’m a mum and know I’m an example to my kids.
“They get a buzz out knowing I’m deployed – they’re really proud.
“My son went to his first Anzac Day service this year and went to the RSL afterwards to talk about his mum – my kids are always talking about me being over here.”
After pursuing a career in local radio, Private Paraha also decided to the join the army later in life, but before she made the decision she consulted her family.
“I asked my children’s permission when I joined the army and I asked again before I deployed over here,” she said.
“They were really excited for me. I’ve definitely been supported by the army too.”
Private Paraha has a message for other parents who might be considering a career in the army.
“Don’t limit yourself – you are extremely capable whatever your age and whether you’re male or female,” she said.
“I went through Kapooka at the age of 42.
“If I can do it, anyone can.”