Levin Man Helping Provide Healthcare to Coalition Forces in Iraq

27 February 2019

Growing up in Levin, Jesse Lust never dreamed that his career as a nursing officer with the New Zealand Army would involve working in a team delivering healthcare to coalition soldiers in Iraq.

Captain Lust is part of Task Group Taji, a combined New Zealand-Australian group training Iraqi Security Forces personnel at Taji Military Complex, 20 kilometres north of Baghdad.

The task group also leads the Taji Military Treatment Facility, which provides primary and emergency healthcare to about 3,500 coalition soldiers.
“It is fantastic,” Captain Lust said. “There is a lot of opportunity to learn more about yourself in terms of leadership skills, especially dealing with other nations, learning about different processes and ways we can work better together.”

Captain Lust is a recent recruit to the New Zealand Army, after enrolling to do an international business degree at the University of Otago after leaving high school.

“I went to Otago University and enjoyed it but decided that working would be a better option for me,” he said.

He worked initially for a large commercial bank, as a banking consultant and a team leader.

“I had a bit of a moment where I thought, ‘What am I doing with my life?’ and decided to quit and started nursing training.”

In 2009, Captain Lust enrolled to do a bachelor of nursing degree at Massey University. Upon completion, he started working at Hutt Hospital’s Emergency Department.

But a career in the Army was always in the back of his mind.

“The reason I applied was I am really interested in wilderness healthcare and nursing in austere environments,” he said. “I was also interested in all the leadership opportunities that the Army provided.” 

He applied for a nursing officer position in 2015 and joined the Army in early 2016. In the past three years his career has been a whirlwind.

“Soon after I joined I went to Brunei as part of Exercise Kepimpinan, with our Officer Cadet School. I was providing healthcare to the cadets in a remote jungle environment, which was really difficult but also amazing,” he said.

In 2017, he achieved another career milestone when he undertook training with NATO at the Centre of Excellence for Military Medicine in Hungary.

In late 2018 he went deployed to Iraq, working with personnel from the international coalition.

“It is really interesting and really valuable to see the way they do things in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and so on. We’re all very similar in the way we treat patients but we’ve all got small differences.”

The former banking consultant has never regretted his decision to opt for a career as an Army nursing officer.

“The Army offers huge opportunities for nursing,” he said. “If you are interested in a particular area, like remote healthcare and wilderness nursing, you are able to explore it.”

This page was last reviewed on 27 February 2019.