Melissa Miller
Squadron Leader Nursing Officer
Joint Health Unit (JHU-WA). RAAF Base Pearce Health Centre Manager (HCM)
Royal Australian Air Force

Operational Service Medal – Middle East Area Operations with 2nd Clasp
Defence Long Service Medal with 1st clasp
Australian Defence Medal
Commanding Officers Award
Frenchie McDougall Memorial Award

I am a Jardwadjali (Jadawadjali) woman from Horsham in Victoria. I believe I may be the first member of my family that I am aware of, to have served within the Australian Defence Force. Although I am still trying to source my family history to ascertain if any members have served, it has proven somewhat difficult to date but I will continue my investigations.
I previously served in the Royal Australian Navy, joining in April 1994 as an Underwater Controller, trained in the Mulloka sonar system, which is now known as a Combat Systems Operator with postings to HMAS Cerberus, HMAS Watson, HMAS Tobruk and HMAS Newcastle.
A different world and climate marked my decision to make the switch, seeing me join the Royal Australian Air Force as a Non-Commissioned Officer, Air Surveillance Operator. On completion of training at RAAF Edinburgh and RAAF Williamtown, I posted back to Edinburgh to No 1 Radar Surveillance Unit, now called No 1 Remote Sensor Unit. While at the unit, I started studying a nursing degree, before deciding a career change was in order, and then, in 2007, I became a Military Skills Instructor (MSI) with postings to No 1 Recruit Training Unit, RAAF Base Edinburgh before the school moved to RAAF Base Wagga.
My time as an MSI was extremely rewarding; watching the changes in the young men and women who have enlisted in the Australian Defence Force and having input into their success and career was very satisfying. Whilst undertaking the role of an MSI at RAAF Wagga, I went to Officer Selection Board and was successful. I commissioned and gained entry into the Civil School Scheme, where I attended Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga, to undertake a Bachelor of Nursing, which I completed in 2011. On graduation, I then completed two years of post-graduate studies with the Royal District Nursing Services in Melbourne. I posted back as a Nursing Officer to RAAF Williamtown.
At the end of 2014, I posted to RAAF Base Richmond at No 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron (1EHS) Detachment Richmond, with an attachment to No 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron (3AMES). I then moved to No.2 Expeditionary Health Squadron (2EHS) Williamtown for a few years. 2021 saw a posting back to 3AMES Richmond as the Operations Officer (OPSO)/Nursing Officer, which entails conducting all of the Australian Defence Force’s Aeromedical Evacuations both in Australia and overseas, including all operations and exercises. It is a unique unit and we are able to work with fixed or rotary-wing aircraft and utilise either civilian or military aircraft in order to return a member to their home location. This role was very unique as 3AMES does not have a specialised OPSO as the OPSO has always been a clinician, either a Nursing Officer or Medical Officer, because clinical decisions need to be made in order to make sure the right person and/or team is tasked with the job. It is a big challenge with a small staff of highly skilled personnel, especially if you have multiple, concurrent aeromedical evacuation missions while also being available 24/7 to answer the calls to get a team ready to go.
In 2024, I moved across the country with a posting to RAAF Base Pearce, as the current Health Centre Manager for Joint Health Unit Western Australia. It is a vastly different role to my previous opportunities, however the skillset I have has ensured that all demands and services provided to ADF members are supported by the whole team.
I have been fortunate to undertake the female Indigenous Liaison Officer’s role for Exercise Kummundoo. This is the RAAF’s contribution to remote communities for the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation’s dental program. I was involved in attending schools and health facilities to educate the next generation on health and the ADF’s career opportunities. During this time, I also utilised my nursing background to assist and work in remote health facilities. It’s tasks like these that make life in the Royal Australian Air Force so rewarding. Deploying on multiple operations and exercises in various roles, both in Australia and overseas, with each one very different, gives a new perspective on life, opportunities and challenges.
One of my biggest personal achievements, to date, was receiving the Major Gregory John ‘Frenchie’ McDougall Memorial Award from the ADF Basketball Association. Awarded by previous recipients, it encompasses the mateship and friendships that are developed through sport, and was voted on by my peers. It is for those who have contributed in all aspects, both socially on and off the court, and contributed to improving and encouraging new members to be actively involved within ADF Basketball.