This ANZAC day, three brave women share their stories about being part of our defence force and managing babies.
Tamara Sloper Harding was getting married in 1999, when she got a call on her chunky mobile phone to say she would be deployed to East Timor.
“I knew that something was going to happen but I was really hoping I’d still be around for the wedding.
“During the wedding reception, I got a phone call from some of the guys in my group saying they’d already deployed to Darwin and we’d be heading to East Timor with General Cosgrove,” she said.
“I don’t even know why on earth I had the mobile phone on in the middle of the wedding – at least it didn’t ring in the church part.”
The bride gets a call during her wedding reception. Image supplied.
The naval intelligence officer said she went into shock and spent the rest of the reception writing down notes about what she needed to do before leaving.
A week later she was in Dili, a war zone. "Everything was absolutely destroyed and everything was burning."
"It was one extreme to the another - suddenly going from being a bride to getting shot at a week later."
Ms Sloper Harding was the first group to deploy to East Timor, she was loaned to the Army and given a gun.
"You're much safer in the Navy. [The Army] is a whole different type of combat. I'd never been trained to fire a rifle - I'd been on a ship - and they gave me a rifle and said: 'Here you go'.
"I didn't know what to do with it," she said.
Tamara in East Timor 1999. Image supplied.
The experience had a massive impact and when Ms Sloper Harding became a mother - everything changed.
"In '99 I was very emotional about all the children that had been killed and women who've been raped and tortured, it was horrific and I was moved by it - but [after having children] I really understood what mothers must have felt having their daughters taken away - all the children starving to death - and that's where my PTSD set in.
"When I had the kids it triggered a more emotional response to what I've seen and that's why I've just got to do something about it now."
The experience led her to begin her charity - Pittwater Friends of Soibada Inc.
Mrs Sloper Harding and Adrian Harding married in 1999 but it wasn't until 2006 that the pair were finally able to live together and that's because they briefly both quit working for the defence forces.