Ross Wadsworth and colleagues

A new challenge leads to a quarter century of service

12 March 2021

Ross Wadsworth enlisted in the RAAF after a massive life change. He served for a quarter of a century and now spends his days giving back to the RSL community as a welfare officer.

It was a significant life event in 1990 that motivated registered nurse Ross Wadsworth to enlist in the RAAF.

Originally commissioned as a Flying Officer (and achieving the rank of Wing Commander on discharge), Ross spent a quarter of a century as a serving member working through general ward duties, health logistics and nursing duties.

He was responsible for the preparation, repair and reconstitution of health equipment and spent time in Richmond, Townsville and Canberra.

“I had cared for veterans as a registered nurse at what is now known as Greenslopes Private Hospital in Brisbane,” he explains.

“My father was a navigator bombardier in the Air Force so my decision to enlist was partly because of that connection and also because of the stories I’d heard from patients about their own military experience.

“I felt that a career in the Air Force would be diverse, offering the opportunity to really challenge myself personally and professionally. On deployments you are often looking after people in pretty harsh environments.”

During his service, Ross was deployed overseas several times but said it was commanding a Joint Task Force to Pakistan that was the most personally rewarding.

“We were able to provide health care to more than 10,000 people during the two and a half months we were there which was a phenomenal effort,” he says.

“I finished my career as happy as the day I joined.”

Paying it back

Life after serving hasn’t slowed down for Ross, who is now a welfare officer at the Ipswich RSL Sub Branch and Vice President of Moreton District.

“This is my way of paying it back and supporting the community. I look after a cohort from the ages of 22 to 102.

“When you return to civilian life it can be hard to know where and how to access support. I’ve seen many of our members rediscover their sense of belonging and being a part of something by joining the RSL.”

For Ross, the simplest act can often have the biggest impact.

“Picking up the phone to say ‘G’day’ can make a big difference to someone’s day,” he says.

“During the past year when a lot of our members haven’t been able to meet in person we’ve definitely found people embracing new ways of keeping connected like Facebook and Skype.

“Everyone at some point in their life needs a hand to get through a situation and it’s my job to help the veteran community to be the best they can be.”

Hope for the future

As Ross looks back on 26 years of service to the RAAF, he said it is the future of the service that gives him a moment of hope.

“I think of how far things advanced during my time in the Air Force and how far they have advanced in 100 years of service,” he says.

“I think of the advent of new technologies and aircraft that have meant we can transport more medical equipment and enhance our tactical and strategic reach in vital operations.

“I’m hopeful of the advances we’ll keep making as the aviation industry evolves and the influence they’ll have on how we provide health care in the future.” 

Then. Now. Always

The RAAF marks 100 years of service to Australia on 31 March 2021. Read more about the RAAF journey.