Introduction: Blogging About Women and War
According to a recent article in The New York Times, more than 220,000 female soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. From February to April 2010, our Regarding War writers will be blogging about Women and War. Army First Lieutenant Jessica Scott, Marine Corps veteran and Service Women's Action Network executive director Anu Bhagwati, journalist Helen Benedict and author Erin Solaro will be sharing their own experiences, raising questions and engaging in debates, writing posts that illuminate the reality of women in the military, and responding to each other and to your comments about the topic.
Some of the issues that will be addressed in the coming weeks include:
- Women in combat: women soldiers are technically excluded from combat in the U.S. military, yet women soldiers are in combat zones as support staff and frequently play roles that are indistinguishable from combat infantrymen. What are the real experiences of women in the military? Should the ban on women in combat be lifted?
- Sexual assault in the military: Between 30 percent and 70 percent of women soldiers report that they were raped or sexual assaulted while in the Army. Is the Army doing enough to prevent sexual assaults?
- Family, motherhood and the military: The divorce rate for female soldiers is much higher than it is for male soldiers. Motherhood and custody of children can also be challenging issues for female soldiers. How are women in the military navigating their role within their families?
- Women, Veterans Affairs (VA) and benefits: Historically, the VA has been built around the needs of men. Are female soldiers getting what they need in terms of mental health support, disability benefits and more? How can the VA system better support female veterans?
- We want to hear from you: What do you think about women and war? Are there any topics that you would like to see our writers cover? Share your thoughts in the comment field below!
We've also been reading many articles about women and war. Here are some articles that have informed, surprised and provoked us:
The New York Times: Women at Arms
This series of articles examines changing roles of women in the military and explore the lives of women soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Pieces about women at combat, motherhood for female soldiers, sexual abuse by fellow GIs and women with PTSD all further our understanding of what female soldiers go through while they are deployed and when they return home.
The Washington Post: Woman Gains a Silver Star, and Removal from Combat
Monica Brown, an 18-year-old medic in Iraq who risked her life to shield and treat her wounded comrades, became the second woman since World War II to receive a silver star. Yet she was soon removed from her position because the ban on women in combat barred her from direct combat missions.
The American Prospect: The Combat Within: Female Veterans and PTSD Benefits
PTSD in female veterans is often the result of a combination of sexual assault and combat trauma. However, the VA healthcare system doesn't always diagnose PTSD in female veterans, which leads to denials of claims for mental health care.
The Los Angeles Times: Rapist in the Ranks
Women serving in the U.S. military are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq. Yet very few suspects investigated for sexual assault in the military are prosecuted. Congresswoman Jane Harmon highlights the issue of sexual assault in this article and urges the military and Congress to address the crisis.
The New York Times: The Women's War
Portraits of female soldiers reveal what drew them to enlist, the challenges they face and how they are adjusting to civilian life once they return home.
Have you come across an insightful article or video about women and war that you want to share? Take part in our conversation by leaving a comment.