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One Woman’s War and Peace: A nurse’s journey in the Royal Australian Air Force

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In 1999, idealistic 23-year-old Registered Nurse Sharon Bown left her comfortable family life in Tasmania and joined the Royal Australian Air Force with the aim of providing humanitarian aid to the world.

Through her 16-year military career she deployed on three operations, barely survived a helicopter crash, struggled to return to military service, mixed in political circles in Canberra and around the world as Aide de Camp to the Minister for Defence, and commanded a combat surgical team during some of the most intense fighting in Afghanistan.

From teaching East Timorese orphans to learn English to tending to wounded Coalition soldiers choppered into her surgical team from deadly battles on the Afghan dust, Sharon’s story is that of a sheltered civilian RN becoming a military Nursing Officer and a commander.

Her military service was unique, varied and far-reaching but came at the cost of her physical and mental health. A broken back, shattered jaw and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are the price she has paid for a remarkable and inspirational career in the Royal Australian Air Force.

SPECIFICATIONS: Paperback | 229 x 152 mm / 9 x 6 Inches | Approx. 30 Colour Photographs | 248 Pages | 

Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret’d) completed her Bachelor of Nursing at the University of Tasmania in 1995. With post-graduate qualifications in Peri-operative nursing and Advanced Nursing in Family, Child and Youth Health, she worked as a Registered Nurse at Calvary Hospital, Hobart from 1996–1999, including two years in the operating theatre, before joining the Royal Australian Air Force as a Nursing Officer in 1999.

During her Air Force service, she served overseas in East Timor and Afghanistan and was appointed commander of the RAAF Base Townsville health centre from 2008– 2011 and as the commander of surgical/critical care team deployed to Afghanistan in 2008. Aside from her military nursing service, she also served as the Aide-de-Camp to the Minister for Defence in 2006 — a unique privilege for a Nursing Officer.

During her service she suffered a number of life-altering events such as surviving a helicopter crash with a shattered jaw and broken back and having her policeman father shot in the line of duty, soon after losing her mother to breast cancer. Her service life has exposed her to the best and the worst of humanity and her life’s experiences have resulted in a diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sharon retired from the Air Force in 2015 and is pursuing further study towards a Bachelor of Psychology. Sharon is a passionate advocate for Australia’s military nurses and for military and veterans’ health where she hopes her experiences and Psychology qualifications will assist others. She is highly sought after as a public speaker and is often invited to speak about the unique experiences of her service career. She lives in Townsville with her husband and their two sons.

In 1999, idealistic 23-year-old Registered Nurse Sharon Bown left her comfortable family life in Tasmania and joined the Royal Australian Air Force. Through her 16-year military career she deployed on three operations, barely survived a helicopter crash, struggled to return to military service, mixed in political circles in Canberra and around the world as Aide de Camp to the Minister for Defence, and commanded a combat surgical team during some of the most intense fighting in Afghanistan. During this time, she lost her mother to breast cancer and almost lost her policeman father.

From teaching East Timorese orphans to learn English to tending to wounded Coalition soldiers choppered into her surgical team from deadly battles on the Afghan dust, Sharon’s story is that of a sheltered civilian RN becoming a military Nursing Officer and a commander. Her military service was unique, varied and far-reaching but came at the cost of her physical and mental health. A broken back, shattered jaw and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are the price she has paid for a remarkable and inspirational career in the Royal Australian Air Force.

Australian Defence Family Matters Magazine, September 2017
“Sharon Bown didn’t feel her sixteen year career in the Air Force was more interesting than anyone else’s. But a speech she gave at an Anzac Day pre-dawn service changed that” – Click here to read.


2GB, December 2016
Tune in and listen to Sharon Bown, author of One Woman’s War and Peace interviewed on 2GB radio.


Channel 7’s Sunrise, October 2016


Radio Live NZ, October 2016
Wing Commander Sharon Bown (Ret’d) interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on Radio Live NZ.
Listen in here.

Additional information

Book Type

eBook ePub, eBook Mobi, Paperback + eBook ePub, Paperback

Roaming Panther Magazine, May 2017
“Sharon Bown always knew she wanted to make a difference by helping others” – Feature article, click here to read


Townsville Eye, March 2017
“(a) rare insight into Australian military service from a woman’s perspective”


Royal United Services Institution, March 2017
“This personal account displays nothing but optimism and determination to take on whatever the future held…It is a refreshing work that makes the reader aware of the determination an individual can possess to achieve an ambition to serve others. A very readable account.”


Honest Histories, February 2017
“Bown is a remarkable woman…(she) is open and honest about her feelings and how she has now found some peace. Telling her story of adversity and survival clearly helps her in the advocacy in which she is now engaged. Her story will also provide comfort and help for those who have suffered injury, mental and physical, in shocking accidents while serving their country or otherwise.”


The Hive (Australian College of Nursing), January 2017
“Sharon’s story is one which encourages and inspires readers to lead within their own lives.” – Click here to read the full review.


Australian Defence Magazine, January 2017
“Sharon’s often traumatic story is one of great courage and compassion and highlights how service to the ADF can come at a great personal, physical, emotional and physiological cost.” – Click here to read the full review.


Australian Nursing Journal, December 2016
“inspirational”


Portland Observer, November 2016
“This important and timely book reminds us of the value and support that our veterans require, yet don’t always receive.” – Click here to read the review in full.


The Weekly Times, November 2016
“You can feel her pain following the horrific helicopter crash that left her with a broken back and shattered jaw as well as the graphic nightmares that followed … a moving account of the sacrifices so many make.” – Read the full review here.


Just So Stories, November 2016
“It has been a privilege to share Sharon’s journey and her easy style of writing made that journey an engaging one to follow. I urge you strongly to add this to your secondary collection or to put it on your ‘to read’ list for your personal edification.” – Read the full review here.


PS News, October 2016
“It’s an amazing story of a sheltered civilian RN becoming a military nursing officer and a commander.”


Camden Advertiser, October 2016
“I was moved near to tears, for she hits right where it counts and made me proud to be an Australian”


Collins Bookseller Camden, September 2016
“One Woman’s War And Peace is truly beautiful, even in the dark and lonely times … I dare you not to be touched or even moved after reading it through. Or even be filled with pride.”


Collins Booksellers Camden, September 2016
“One Woman’s War And Peace is truly beautiful, even in the dark and lonely times … I dare you not to be touched or even moved after reading it through. Or even be filled with pride.”

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