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  1. #1
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    Female Veterans

    Back from combat, women struggle for acceptance

    Quote Originally Posted by Associated Press
    More than 230,000 American women have fought in those recent wars and at least 120 have died doing so, yet the public still doesn't completely understand their contributions on the modern battlefield.

    For some, it's a lonely transition as they struggle to find their place.

    Aimee Sherrod, an Air Force veteran who did three war tours, said years went by when she didn't tell people she was a veteran. After facing sexual harassment during two tours and mortar attacks in Iraq, the 29-year-old mother of two from Bells, Tenn., was medically discharged in 2005 with post-traumatic stress disorder.

    She's haunted by nightmares and wakes up some nights thinking she's under attack. She's moody as a result of PTSD and can't function enough to work or attend college. Like some other veterans, she felt she improperly received a low disability rating by the Department of Veterans Affairs that left her with a token monthly payment. She was frustrated that her paperwork mentioned she was pregnant, a factor she thought was irrelevant.

    "I just gave up on it and I didn't tell anyone about ever being in the military because I was so ashamed over everything," Sherrod said.

    Then Jo Eason, a Nashville, Tenn., lawyer working pro bono through the Lawyers Serving Warriors program, stepped in a few years later and Sherrod began taking home a heftier monthly disability payment.

    "I've never regretted my military service, I'm glad I did it," Sherrod said. "I'm not ashamed of my service. I'm ashamed to try and tell people about it because it's like, well, why'd you get out? All the questions that come with it."

    The Defense Department bars women from serving in assignments where the primary mission is to engage in direct ground combat. But the nature of the recent conflicts, with no clear front lines, puts women in the middle of the action, in roles such as military police officers, pilots, drivers and gunners on convoys. In addition to the 120-plus deaths, more than 650 women have been wounded.

    Back home, women face many of the same issues as the men, but the personal stakes may be greater.

    Female service members have much higher rates of divorce and are more likely to be a single parent. When they do seek help at VA medical centers, they are screening positive at a higher rate for military sexual trauma, meaning they indicated experiencing sexual harassment, assault or rape. Some studies have shown that female veterans are at greater risk for homelessness.

    Former Army Sgt. Kayla Williams, an Iraq veteran who has written about her experience, said she was surprised by the response she and other women from the 101st Airborne Division received from people in Clarksville, Tenn., near Fort Campbell, Ky.

    She said residents just assumed they were girlfriends or wives of military men.

    "People didn't come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way. They didn't give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back," said Williams, 34, of Ashburn, Va. "Even if you're vaguely aware of it, it still colors how you see yourself in some ways."

    Genevieve Chase, 32, of Alexandria, Va., a staff sergeant in the Army Reserves, said the same guys who were her buddies in Afghanistan didn't invite her for drinks later on because their wives or girlfriends wouldn't approve.

    "One of the hardest things that I had to deal with was, being a woman, was losing my best friends or my comrades to their families," Chase said.

    It was that sense of loss, she said, that led her to get together with some other female veterans for brunch in New York last year. The group has evolved into the American Women Veterans, which now has about 2,000 online supporters, some of whom go on camping trips and advocate for veterans' issues. About a dozen marched in this year's Veteran's Day parade in New York.

    "We just want to know that when we come home, America has our back," Chase said. "That's the biggest thing. Women are over there. You want to feel like you're coming home to open arms, rather than to a public that doesn't acknowledge you for what you've just done and what you just sacrificed."

    Rachel McNeill, a gunner during hostile convoys in Iraq, said she was so affected by the way people treated her when they learned she fought overseas that she even started to question whether she was a veteran.

    She described the attitudes as "Oh, you didn't do anything or you were just on base," said McNeill, who suffers from postconcussive headaches, ringing in her ears, and other health problems related to roadside bomb blasts. The 25-year-old from Hollandale, Wis., was a sergeant in the Army Reserves.

    She said she seemingly even got that response when she told the VA staff in Madison, Wis., of her work. She said she was frustrated to see in her VA paperwork how what she told them had been interpreted.

    "It would say like, 'the patient rode along on convoys,' like I was just a passenger in the back seat," McNeill said.

    Other women have had similar complaints. The VA leadership has said it recognizes it needs to do more to improve care for these veterans, and as part of changes in the works, female coordinators are in place at each medical center to give women an advocate. The agency is also reviewing comments on a proposal to make it easier for those who served in noninfantry roles — including women — to qualify for disability benefits for PTSD.

    Sen. Patty Murray, a member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs committee, recently asked VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to ensure that service members' combat experience is included on their military discharge papers, so later they can get benefits they are entitled to.

    Research has shown that a lack of validation of a soldier's service can make their homecoming more difficult.

    "What worries me is that women themselves still don't see themselves as veterans, so they don't get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women, so we still have a long ways to go," said Murray, D-Wash.

    Chase said one challenge is getting female veterans to ask for changes.

    "Most of us, because we were women service members, are so used to not complaining and not voicing our issues, because in the military that's considered weak. Nobody wants to hear the girl whine," Chase said.
    Only posted this because I wanted to hear people's responses to this.

    The little I do know about women in the military is they they're not intentionally put into combat situations although it's not unlikely, depending on their assignment, that they may see combat. I understand that women are treated a bit unfairly across the board and I know I'll get some responses alongst those lines but I can also understand how having your achievements downplayed can really leave one demoralized to the point of not seeking proper treatment when dealing with some of the after effects of combat situations.

    Anyway just looking to get different points of view and to be educated.

  2. #2
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    i like females

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    They treat everyone like shit, once you're out they don't care about you anymore whether you're a man or woman.

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    I read about this a few hours ago. I'd give a female vet a pat on the back and buy her a drink.

    Spoiler: show
    and then try to nail her

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    230,000? really??? what's the military population across all branches? 230k seems a little high to me but maybe im just a chauvinist(read i like my women in my bed or making me a sandwich).

    edit: army 495,000; navy 388,760; air force 390,000; marines 174,000

    is that accurate? i guess that's active and this article is talking about vets? how the fuck can there even be 230k women vets, numbers seem skewed or even made up but who the fuck am i anyway, i dont have any clue.

  6. #6

    Sounds like the article is making things appear a lot worse of than they are, imo.

  7. #7

    Quote Originally Posted by AoE View Post
    Back from combat, women struggle for acceptance



    Only posted this because I wanted to hear people's responses to this.

    The little I do know about women in the military is they they're not intentionally put into combat situations although it's not unlikely, depending on their assignment, that they may see combat. I understand that women are treated a bit unfairly across the board and I know I'll get some responses alongst those lines but I can also understand how having your achievements downplayed can really leave one demoralized to the point of not seeking proper treatment when dealing with some of the after effects of combat situations.

    Anyway just looking to get different points of view and to be educated.
    I find this article to be indicative of the views of women in the military in general.

    Ignoring the medical issues as they pertain to treatment of PTSD and combat related injuries, this doesn't sound much different than how women are treated socially.

    A guy won't invite a girl coworker out for drinks with his other buddies because of a disapproving wife or girlfriend unless everyone is out of town?

    Women have higher reported rates of sexual abuse?

    Women professionals in a male-dominated field are not considered peers or perceived as equals by the outside community?

    Women in [insert profession here] don't want to look like complainers?

    Not to come off as somehow justifying the injustice, but no shit. This article really points out that there is a pretty good parallel between American woman veterans and... every other American woman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foof View Post
    Sounds like the article is making things appear a lot worse of than they are, imo.
    Well since just saying things doesn't make them true, care to explain why you think that?

    Chauvinism is so damn cool, isn't it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Acturus View Post
    I find this article to be indicative of the views of women in the military in general.

    Ignoring the medical issues as they pertain to treatment of PTSD and combat related injuries, this doesn't sound much different than how women are treated socially.

    A guy won't invite a girl coworker out for drinks with his other buddies because of a disapproving wife or girlfriend unless everyone is out of town?

    Women have higher reported rates of sexual abuse?

    Women professionals in a male-dominated field are not considered peers or perceived as equals by the outside community?

    Women in [insert profession here] don't want to look like complainers?

    Not to come off as somehow justifying the injustice, but no shit. This article really points out that there is a pretty good parallel between American woman veterans and... every other American woman.
    Yeah I agree completely. All this article is good for is showing how societal behavior towards women pans out in a military context. Nothing of a surprise at all.

  10. #10
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    Yes, this is not surprising at all, this happens all the time, bitches making sandwiches, i don't know what else i can say to downplay this and conspiciously pretend that my behavior is not part of that the problem.

  11. #11

    230K women in all 5 branches of the active armed forces of the US is not inaccurate. Depending on what numbers you're citing for totals, women in the armed forces is somewhere between the high 100 and low 200 thousands.


    To say that they are all veterans (ie serving/have served in a combat environment [classified as being a war zone] -- and assuming the definition being cited by the article is not meaning just women who've served in the military), however, would definitely be inaccurate. I do not know how many women are currently over there, but one can safely say that it is not the entire component of all women in the military. Now, is this number of 'veterans' a cumulative total of all women who've served over a set number of years in all armed forces in war zones? Not enough data for me to make a valid assumption. Also remember in addition to not allowing women to serve in units who have direct assignments/duties of combat zones, some of the military branches also suspended recruitment of females over a period of years within recent times (USN being a prime example) so one would have to take that into account too.


    Most statistics reported by media are just made up on the spot anyway though, so I don't see why it matters.

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  13. #13

    Quote Originally Posted by Stumblingdrunk View Post
    Well since just saying things doesn't make them true, care to explain why you think that?

    Chauvinism is so damn cool, isn't it?
    Maybe I can't quite speak on it just yet - I'm a female in the Marines, but I'm still fighting for an Afghanistan deployment so I can't quite put myself in their shoes. Like another poster said, a lot of the issues they present as core problems with women veterans are just problems for women in general. A lot of issues aren't as female oriented as they make them out to be either. Article just seems to be pushing things out of proportion or perhaps fighting for the wrong cause, but just my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tankjr View Post
    I read about this a few hours ago. I'd give a female vet a pat on the back and buy her a drink.

    Spoiler: show
    and then try to nail her
    This is exactly what I was thinking. I mean what else can make a woman open up then showing appreciation for something she is proud of, but no one else will recognize her for? Then after you get her to open up go in for the kill.

  15. #15

    Can't really say I've sat down and talked with my sister about this since we don't exactly get along, but I tend to just pick up more overhearing conversations between other family members.

    She was a Marine and did a tour of in the Middle East. I think her general duty was laying communication lines. Anyway, there were a few times she'd been shot at and night driving tends to agitate her PTSD. Part of me still wonders why she even enlisted since I've always considered her a bit of a flake, but she did and damage was done. Either way, she is getting something from them, but how much or if it's enough I couldn't say.

    Since she's come back, she's pretty much been job hopping. She was initially living in Oceanside, CA, hooked up with a douche of a guy and moved back to this area with him, he beat her some, but it took her a while to finally cut ties. She's since jumped from the Marines to the Army and I think is looking to do more civvy-oriented work like working on hum-vees and such. She'll probably change her mind in a couple months, though, as before was being a masseuse, and before that a bartender.

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    Part of it is an obvious combination of how veterans are treated like shit after they are discharged, and women often have to toe the line of getting what they need and not being a "whiner" in male-dominated environments all the time.

    But, it's clear that PTSD is going to be less common and less severe for female soldiers, because they are less frequently in combat stress situations and the situations they are in are usually less severe. It's hard to separate gender-bias from VA being all-around shitty in this situation.

    I dunno. My sister is a veteran of Iraq. She wasn't in "combat operations". However, her base in Mosul was mortared frequently, sometimes multiple times a day, and her job was basically to sit by a radio, wait for a mortar/stray bullet/something to blow up on the base, hop on her ATV, provide first-responder aid, and get the wounded back to the medical area. Consequently, she saw a lot of people die or were seriously wounded, and had to fear for her own safety daily.

    As far as I know, mentally she's pretty much fine now - but honestly if she wasn't I doubt she'd tell me.

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    Are we talking about grizzled old female veterans from a major war that are now homeless on street corners holding a cardboard sign, or younger, more recent female veterans from tours in afghanistan and such?

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    I just got discharged in 08. Did three tours in Afghanistan, two in Iraq, and toured Europe for 6 months (Army Special Forces). The numbers seem pretty accurate. Male to Female ratio at some points seems about 4 to 1 if not moreso depending on your unit. Specialized units tend to be mostly male but operations divisions and recon are seeing more and more female units who have gone through the specialized training. For lack of a better word, the recruit status is abysmally low so they will throw anyone anywhere regardless of who you are. Pop in to any command operations center and you'll see almost 90% of the techs are female.

    In fact my instructor at OCS was a female Captain who served 4 tours in Iraq. She was placed on military disability status after a roadside bomb shattered 65% of her pelvis. They couldn't find another use for her so they desked her for 4 months while she underwent reconstructive surgery, now she trains officers and can chew dirt better than most other males I know. There's a few female generals in the Army (not sure in other branches) so they're there. Enlisted last I checked on active duty is 2.3 million? (Army). 230k seems low to me if it's encompassing the armed forces in general.

    Are we talking about grizzled old female veterans from a major war that are now homeless on street corners holding a cardboard sign, or younger, more recent female veterans from tours in afghanistan and such?
    230k may be a number they pulled based off of Women who were recently discharged because back in the 80's, females couldn't enlist in the Marines and there were no female officers in the Army. You don't see very many homeless female vets because it was a general consensus that if you didn't see combat then you can't get PTSD and most females were techies or they were armorers back then. Of course it sucks because the veteran pay for disabled vets could be put well towards those single/down on luck female vets who bleed the same ground as the rest of us. Regardless, they're still vets and should be treated as such. Shouldn't be any lines between a male and female.

  19. #19

    Quote Originally Posted by Nephlite View Post
    Enlisted last I checked on active duty is 2.3 million? (Army). 230k seems low to me if it's encompassing the armed forces in general.


    The numbers are nowhere near that high. If you included all branches, active and reserve including civilian DoD employees; then you can do those kind of numbers. Active duty only including all branches you're only talking around 1.5 million, officer and enlisted.

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    I dated a girl, army vet. Now I see why they're single moms, that bitch was crazy.

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