As part of her deployment to Iraq, RAAF nursing officer Flying Officer Cheryl Brophy is providing COVID-19 support to contractors and Iraqi civilians.

Flying Officer Brophy is part of a highly specialised team of seven ADF medical professionals caring for US Military and Department of State personnel, Australian and coalition forces, and host-nation soldiers in Iraq. 

She is deployed on Operation Okra and is working with her triservice colleagues at the role 3 hospital at the Baghdad Diplomatic Support Centre (BDSC).

“My role at BDSC is officially a perioperative nurse; however, we are still general nurses,” Flying Officer Brophy said.

“I have been heavily involved in the COVID-19 support on base, including regular COVID-19 swabbing and vaccinations for US forces, coalition forces, contractors and Iraqi civilians.

“I also recently had the opportunity to travel to the nearby water factory that services Iraq and the entire BDSC on a COVID-19 support mission.

“I have a postgraduate certificate in perioperative nursing and, therefore, I am a theatre nurse by trade.

“However, the dynamics of Air Force often requires me to be an aviation nurse, a primary healthcare nurse and an emergency nurse all at once.”

Flying Officer Brophy joined the permanent Air Force in 2016 after completing her undergraduate degree in nursing.

When Flying Officer Brophy is not deployed, she is posted to No. 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown.

“My deployment has been great. Working with the US Army has been very enjoyable,” Flying Officer Brophy said. 

“They have a huge focus on training, so I have been able to do an abundance of it while I have been here.

“We have also been one of the busiest rotations so far in terms of the number of surgical cases.

“It has been wonderful to work in not only a role 3 capability, but also to integrate with the US Army – we just slot into their world and work so well together.” 

Born and raised in Cairns, Queensland, Flying Officer Brophy is deployed to Iraq for five months. 

“The original reason I joined the ADF was to do something more for my country and to have an honourable career, and I also wanted to be a nurse,” she said.

“I chose the Air Force to one day be involved in aeromedical evacuations to provide a reassurance to our soldiers, seamen and airmen that, wherever they go in the world, if they get hurt, we will come and get them and bring them home.”