Army’s cap­tain coura­geous

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Classifieds -

GROW­ING up in the South Aus­tralian coun­try with roam­ing horses and wideopen spa­ces, the thought of con­fin­ing her­self to a class­room never ap­pealed to Lacey West­ern.

So once she fin­ished her teach­ing de­gree, she fol­lowed in her father’s path. She was in the army by her 22nd birth­day.

“As a kid, I was very much into read­ing,” Cap­tain West­ern said. “I think it sur­prised ev­ery­one when I joined the army.”

The now 31-year-old is an Aus­tralian army cap­tain, a war veteran, and a Clare­mont busi­ness owner.

Capt West­ern en­tered the De­fence Force in 2007 as an ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer and later trans­ferred to pub­lic af­fairs.

The Scar­bor­ough res­i­dent was in the army for four years be­fore she was de­ployed to Afghanistan.

She was de­ployed there twice, first as a mil­i­tary me­dia es­cort of­fi­cer for seven months and then as a pub­lic af­fairs of­fi­cer for the spe­cial op­er­a­tions task group for six months.

Capt West­ern said the ex­pe­ri­ence was chal­leng­ing but also re­ward­ing.

“The chal­lenges are be­ing away from your fam­ily for such a long time and want­ing to stay con­nected but be­ing re­ally con­sumed by the en­vi­ron­ment and the job,” she said.

“The high­lights are the amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of fi­nally tak­ing all that train­ing and do­ing your job for real in an area where you can see the amaz­ing con­tri­bu­tions that we’re mak­ing.

“For me, I got to travel so much around Afghanistan and see how much was be­ing achieved.”

About 12 per cent of peo­ple in the army are fe­male but Capt West­ern said no one cared about her gen­der, they just ex­pected her to do her job well.

“I want women to know that you can be young and smart and beau­ti­ful and you can be in the mil­i­tary; the glass ceil­ing is only there if you per­ceive it to be,” she said.

“I’ve never felt held back or re­stricted from achiev­ing what I wanted.

“You’ve just got to work hard, as a man does, there’s no dif­fer­ence.”

De­spite wear­ing khaki and boots, Capt West­ern ap­pre­ci­ates the finer things. That is why she has pur­chased Morph Quar­ters Hair and Beauty in Clare­mont and Can­ning­ton.

She plans to jug­gle life in the army with life in the salon.

AN all-Aus­tralian De­fence Force team will take part in a surf boat race in the lead-up to An­zac Day.

In part­ner­ship with Sol­dier On, the surf boat team will par­tic­i­pate in the Gal­lipoli 100 Surf Boat Race along­side teams from New Zealand and Turkey.

Cap­tain Lacey West­ern will act as sup­port crew.

The Ris­ing Suns Surf Boat team is hop­ing to raise $150,000 for Sol­dier On, Legacy and the Urunga Surf Life Sav­ing Club. To do­nate, visit https://sol­dieron.giveeasy.org/cam­paigns/gal­lipoli-100-surf-boat-race/.

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Carol Lake and Free­dom Cen­tre co-or­di­na­tor Dani Wright Tous­saint ad­vo­cate for gen­der equal­ity. Inset: Is­abelle Lake and Dani.

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Cap­tain Lacey West­ern.

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