Thursday, 27 May 2010

Released on behalf of the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Support Mike Kelly has attended a special ceremony in which the Netherlands Government honoured 13 Royal Australian Air Force Health Services personnel for their work in Afghanistan.

Chief of the Royal Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin also attended the medal presentation.

“This was a very demanding deployment”, Dr Kelly said. “Sadly nearly one third of their patients were Afghan children. The RAAF health personnel showed great dedication and professionalism in treating severe injuries.”

The 13 Air Force members received Netherlands Peace-keeping Operations Commemorative Medals during the Canberra ceremony.

The Air Force personnel were recognised for their deployment to Tarin Kowt in southern Afghanistan in 2008 in which, alongside their Dutch counterparts, they provided combat health support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

Netherlands Major General Simon Van Groningen presented the medals in person, acknowledging the Air Force team’s life-saving work under difficult and dangerous circumstances.

The Air Force team of specialists included orthopaedic and general surgeons, nurses and intensive care medical assistants. They provided crucial health support not only to coalition forces but also to the local Afghan communities.

“Their contribution to the mission in Afghanistan was outstanding,” Dr Kelly said. “They worked around the clock alongside Dutch and other coalition military health professionals. They not only saved lives but also the won the hearts and minds of the local Afghan people.”