Royal Australian Air Force Squadron Leader Walter Goedde feels privileged to help provide COVID-19 vaccinations at pop-up clinics in regional and remote NSW.
CAPTION: Squadron Leader Walter Goedde administers a COVID-19 vaccination to a member of the Orange community as a part of NSW Operation COVID-19 Assist. Story by Lieutenant Brendan Trembath. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.
Five Australian Defence Force vaccine outreach teams have received various tokens of appreciation and affection from the public, including coffees, scones and children’s drawings.
“Needless to say, we are all extremely touched by the gestures,” said Squadron Leader Goedde, a Senior Nursing Officer from 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron (2EHS) at RAAF Base Williamtown.
“The communities have been extremely engaging. It is common to meet whole families that are being vaccinated together,” Squadron Leader Goedde said.
“In the short time you have to speak with them, you gain a good understanding of their love of their communities and the country as a whole.”
Squadron Leader Goedde has seen strong demand for vaccinations in the cities and towns his team has visited, with some community members waiting up to four hours to receive a vaccination.
“They are happy and pleased to see us and thankful to have the opportunity to be vaccinated,” he said.
The communities have gone out of their way to assist the teams and make them feel at home.
In a new location they are often met by local first responders, council personnel and elected officials.
Squadron Leader Goedde said when he joined the ADF in 1996 as a registered nurse with five years’ experience, he wanted to expand his horizons and serve the nation.
“Joining gave me the opportunity to literally and metaphorically wear my patriotism on my sleeve,” he said.
His achievements since include service in the Middle East and East Timor, facilitating the introduction of C-17 aeromedical equipment into the RAAF from the US Air Force, being a RAAF representative to the Air and Space Interoperability Council for aeromedical evacuation, and training ADF members in fixed and rotary wing aeromedical evacuation.
“25 years on, I am still enjoying my career in the ADF,” Squadron Leader Goedde said.
“The ADF develops and shapes you as a person and a professional. Professional development and continued education is constant.”