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Women at War.. They fight, bleed, save lives, sometimes lose their own, get raped & assaulted (incl. by their own), have PTSD, and get misdiagnosed. Sound like DV yet?

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This is so well written, NYT page A-1 and then 2-page spread with diagrams on pages 20-21, and I felt sensitively also, it almost feels wrong to pick a part to quote.  . . . . I’m posting it because, face  it, women can be tough, and they {{oops, “we”}} often do jobs outside their job description — alongside men.  [[They raise Presidents…]]

They also suffer post-traumatic stress like men (a related issue to ours here, obviously), and obviously they bleed too, and die.  And save lives.

G.I. Jane Stealthily Breaks the Combat Barrier
August 16, 2009

New York Times

by Lizette Alvarez

Regarding Iraq:

We literally could not have fought this war without women” said Dr. Nagl, who is now president of the Center for a New American Security, a military research institution in Washington.

Of the two million Americans who have fought in these wars since 23001, more than 200,000 of them, or 11 percent, have been women.

Like men, some women have come home bearing the mental and physical scars of boms and bullets, loss and killing.  Women who are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars, appear to suffer rates of post-traumatic stress disorder comparable to those of men, a recent study showed. . . . . . . .

More than anything, it is seeing women under fire that has changed attitudes.


Other things that women at war do is sometimes get pregnant, and sent home.  THAT’s changing the face of things.  They also get raped, sometimes by their fellow-soldiers.  (I personally know of two women vets who experienced this).

This quiet change has not come seamlessly — and it has altered military culture on the battlefield in ways large and small. Women need separate bunks and bathrooms.

 They face sexual discrimination and rape, and counselors and rape kits are now common in war zones. Commanders also confront a new reality: that soldiers have sex, and some will be evacuated because they are pregnant.

Nonetheless, as soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, women have done nearly as much in battle as their male counterparts: patrolled streets with machine guns, served as gunners on vehicles, disposed of explosives, and driven trucks down bomb-ridden roads. They have proved indispensable in their ability to interact with and search Iraqi and Afghan women for weapons, a job men cannot do for cultural reasons. The Marine Corps has created revolving units — “lionesses” — dedicated to just this task.

A small number of women have even conducted raids, engaging the enemy directly in total disregard of existing policies.


AND, second, THIS article,

Women’s scars of War.”

Female veterans face heightened problems upon return home.

By Jessica Yadegaran, Bay Area News Group…

Well, it won’t load today.  But search that title, January 17, 2010.

When Retired Army Staff Sgt. June Moss returned from Iraq, she had to explain to her children why she coudln’t hug them.  Anty embrace longer than two seconds made her skin feel like it was on fire.  . . . .

Moss, then 32, was misdiagnosed with anxiety and depression.  She suffered for years until a doctor finally told her she had post-traumatic stress disorder, a common reaction to military combat.  Moss says that had she been a man, the diagnosis might have been swifter. 

“They probably thought, “Oh, you’re a woman.  You must have depression.”


When imagining a struggling war veteran, it’s likely few people picture a young woman such as Moss, who was eventually diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. But women make up 15 percent of active-duty military members, and the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates that by the end of 2020, women will represent 10 percent of the nation’s veteran population.

And though military and congressional policy says women can’t participate in direct ground combat, women carry guns, and use them. They drive Humvees hit by improvised explosive devices. They interrogate, and witness bloodshed. But for women, there is a major difference. They come home to a society that for the most part doesn’t understand — or accept — that they’re serving in the line of fire.

As a result, the feelings of isolation can be even more overwhelming, especially since a woman is often one of few in her unit, says Natara Garovoy, program director of the Women’s Prevention, Outreach and Education Center for the VA Palo Alto Health Care System.

Fear of assault

Complicating matters, some female soldiers live in fear of being attacked by one of their own. In 2008, the VA reported that one in five women screened for military sexual trauma had been sexually harassed or assaulted by a fellow soldier.

WHERE is the safe place, at this point?  We’re talking, daily life…  This indeed does start to sound like domestic violence at home, for civilians…

Moss did little alone, whether it was burning confidential papers or taking out the trash. But she still feared for her safety, especially at night. “You already feared for your life,” Moss says, “but the thought of a soldier attacking another soldier?”

The mother of two spent eight months in 2003 as a light-wheel vehicle mechanic with the Third Infantry Division. As she drove through bustling marketplaces, often under aerial or ground fire, she clutched the steering wheel, scanning for suicide bombers. To get through those drives, she prayed.

“I was calling to God really heavily,” Moss says. “I was scared for my life every day, not knowing if I was going to come home to my children and what loss they would have to bear. So I just had to have my wits about me and believe in my training.

Back at the base, Moss struggled with her identity. She was a soldier, wife to a soldier (her now ex-husband, who was also in the Army), her family’s primary caregiver and a mechanic. Still, she tried to blend in, especially since she was the only woman in her unit. She cut her hair short. She wore boxer shorts and big T-shirts to hide her figure. She tried to be overly tough and stand up for herself, she says, particularly when male soldiers made off-color remarks or unwanted gestures.

“You just have to know when to say, ‘Stop. I don’t appreciate that,’ ” Moss says.

Reconciling identity is among the biggest issues Tia Christopher sees in her work with female veterans. As the women veterans coordinator for Swords to Plowshares’ Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Project, Christopher helps homeless and low-income women obtain medical care, housing and job training upon returning from war.

“So many of my female clients who were in Iraq put up with things, even injuries, because they don’t want to be that girl (who complains),” she says. “They soldier on and silently bear that burden. But you can lose a certain amount of your femininity.”


Friends, visitors — without diminishing what these women are doing, their guts, and their issues, I have to say there are some parallels in quality (if not degree?) with leaving abuse, and then going into a court system which requires the feminine submissive pose “or else” at some level; you just can’t get along….      

OR, having PTSD from BOTH the former violence, the risk to one’s kids (specially after custody switch and bait) and THEN being stuck in front of people who don’t understand you really ARE in the line of fire, and characterized, in print, according to a standard that doesn’t take into account one’s need to keep children and self alive.

I certainly can identify with swiftly changing identity. . I reFUSE to let others identify me, as much as possible, and I try not to settle into a routine persona, either, left over from former days. 

Add to this, sometimes:  Often it’s an entire career or lifestyle change as well. . . . Talk about multi-tasking!!  Domestic violence alone can lead to homelessness and death, IN it, or LEAVING it, and is a prime cause of poverty (this has been studied).  If not, the years in the family law system will help that along some….

And yet, consider:  Almost the entirety of the family law system is just that:  characterization of the parties, and their kids, and the interrelationships– particularly psychological.  That’s what it’s about.  NOT “saving lives,” but Designing Families.  (And, lining some pocketbooks, I still assert, of those who do the labeling, and decide who’s naughty & who’s nice…   for a price…)

The tactics used on women in abuse, and in POW situations have been compared, and have similarities.  And similar effects too.  You do not come out the same.  Stronger, with time, let’s hope, but NOT the same.

And it’s not a paying job, either, leaving abuse….

See also “Legal Abuse Syndrome” (Karen Huffer) who has studied this impact of the family law system on our psyches. . . .   And self-appointedfool.org.

Also see:  http://www.womenofthemilitary.com/ (I haven’t yet, but:

Kate Hoit, a female soldier, comes home from Iraq, discovers that America has a distorted view of women in the military, and makes a documentary to tell the truth of what it’s really like to be a woman in today’s military.  


Well, I think those are two good articles (& one documentary, I’m sure), and well worth a read

The NYT, I hear, is going to start charging for access to the on-line site, so better sooner than later.


Written by Let's Get Honest|She Looks It Up

January 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm

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