Influential Women In The MilitaryAuthor: Heather Posted: Mar 4th, 2009 at ArticlesBase.com
The Military Women
Throughout the history of the military, women have played a large role. Not only by supporting the soldiers but standing next to the male soldiers, ready to fight. Over nine thousand women served over in Vietnam and more served at hospitals caring for wounded soldiers (Wilson, 1996). In September of 2005 there were an estimated 203,000 women on active duty serving in the United States military (U.S. Department of Commerce, 2007, ¶ 24). While some do not believe women should be on the front lines, having women in the military has helped create a strong, more integrated fighting force
Vietnam and Other Wars
When Pearl Harbor was attacked the military did not have enough male soldiers to fill certain jobs which did not have to do with direct combat. These jobs are supported military occupational specialties (MOS). Many of these jobs were clerical duties, nursing, civil service and laundry workers. The government finally decided to let women fill these jobs and let them men go fight in the war. Many served in the civilian sector but some were sent overseas; and some women did die in World War II and Vietnam.
Vietnam was a remarkable breakthrough for women in all armed forces. Women served in the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Army. By the time the military was leaving Vietnam, 7,500 women had accomplished oversea tours (Holm, 1982, chap. 16). During Operation Just Cause in Panama 1989, a few hundred women served executing refueling missions and resupply missions while being shot at by the enemy (Wilson, 1996, ¶ 6). These missions still were not considered combat missions.
Women served in large numbers during the Persian Gulf War in 1990-1991. Over 40,000 (Ghajar, n.d., ¶ 8) women reportedly served in the battle between Kuwait and Iraq. These women had set a milestone in women’s history and set record numbers. Today the women serving overseas against the War on Terrorism has helped contribute to the success of the military women.
The War on Terrorism has brought men and women together. Not fighting against each other about gender but fighting together as a strong force. Even though the military does not consider what women do in Iraq and Afghanistan as combat, many women find themselves in danger at any given moment. The women of these wars have made exceptional achievements and accomplished many successful missions.
The military has given credit to the well deserved men and women. Women, who helped in the Revolutionary War, were the first to receive pensions. These women, not yet considered military, were recognized for "drawing well water" (Wilson, 1996, Military Women "Firsts" and their History) for soldiers on the battlefield. These women were accredited no matter how small the pension was and today female soldiers receive the same veteran benefits and pensions of male soldiers. But few have received as many awards as their male counterparts.
The only woman to receive the nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, is a Civil War surgeon Dr. Mary Walker. She was awarded the medal, and Congress eventually took it away from her for reasons still not exactly known. After her death, President Carter "reinstated her medal" (Wilson, 1996). There have been many women to receive the Purple Heart, which is the oldest and first military award.
The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who have been injured or killed during combat, directly engaged with enemy. The Purple Heart is an award of honor and is held in high regard. With the awards come honor but to receive honor one must receive rank that deserves respect.
Recently the first female was given the rank of four-star General. This is the highest commissioned rank in the military. Army Gen. Ann Dunwoody was promoted in November of 2008, which shifted the outlook on women officers (CNN, 2008). Women have served all branches and parts of the military.
The Army’s non-commissioned officers (NCO) are thought to be the "backbone of the Army". These NCOs train and fight next to their soldiers guiding them through their battles. There are only a few exceptional women NCOs documented, but there are many who have served. These NCOs stand for, what the military is; they fight beside their soldiers and lead from the front. Women have participated in the long tradition of the NCO ranks. Women NCOs have showed that they too can do what is right and lead the force.
Even though there are more men given awards of merit and so forth; the women have stood by these soldiers doing the same job. The physical fitness and training standards may be different, but these soldiers work together to get the mission accomplished.
Feminizing the Military
Many people will argue that women do not belong in the military or front lines because the obvious physical difference. Can a woman carry the same weight as a man on her back? Can a woman run as far as the man running beside her?
The military adopted the different physical standards to help provide fair evaluations of female recruits. Some female soldiers are able to run further then male soldiers, some may even be able to carry a heavy load longer distances than men. These standards are set in place to help women overcome the physical differences. The training of soldiers though does not have the same standards.
Training in a co-ed environment may be a little stricter on language and harder on sexual harassment. The women are trained in the same areas of men and are given the exact evaluations. These training units instill a tough sexual harassment and equal opportunity policy. Still with these policies in place there is a list of units and batteries that women are not allowed to train for ("Women in the Army", n.d., ¶ 7). These units are thought to be ones that would send a woman into direct combat.
A unit that does go into direct battle needs support soldiers, these support elements are: criminal intelligence, clerical, medical, military police, civil affairs, engineers and signal. Women are allowed to serve in all support units and go to war with the combat units. The support elements will engage in missions that will put women on the front lines. And even though the military will not recognize women serving in combat, in a support MOS, a soldier will be in the line of danger and fight along with the combat soldiers.
Views on Women in the Military
The combat readiness of female soldiers is a long debate. There are many that believe that because of a woman’s emotional needs that do not belong on the battlefields. Some say women are a distraction to men on the battlefields and women cannot carry the same load as men.
Today there are numerous women serving in support units which complete dangerous missions daily. The military prohibits women serving in line units (infantry) (Norris, 2007, ¶ 4) but females are part of a specialized unit themselves. The War on Terrorism brought a new threat, women suicide bombers.
The Muslim beliefs made it hard for male soldiers to search Muslim women properly who could be hiding critical information or weapons. The military designed a group of women, usually belonging to a military police unit, to conduct missions with combat units to help search the women. The "Lioness" proved to play a very important role in the ground war (Solaro, 2006, chap. 3).
These women help show respect to the Muslim beliefs and are very important in the War on Terrorism. This job puts these women on the front lines and many women in these units find themselves in battles with the enemy. These women know all to well the effects of war and have firsthand experience. Again, the military will not acknowledge that they put women on the front lines, they are there.
Our history has shown us that no matter one’s race, religion or gender; oneself can be successful in this country. A woman can run a business just as well as a male. An African American woman can run the same business. And a Muslim, African American woman can run the business just the same.
Women and men of many races and religions fight the war together, proving the country is united. This lets our enemies know the United States of America does have equality and will rise from our shortcomings. The military may not recognize women are on the front lines because of the policies, but the women overseas know better. They are fighting alongside the male soldiers in direct combat and, they are just as important to the success of the war. Virginia Woolf a British author once said "As a woman I have no country. As a woman my country is my whole world."
References Chamber of Commerce. (2007). U.S. Census Bureau News Release Available from Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/cb07ff-03.pdf CNN (2008). Army general is nation’s first four-star woman. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from http://edition.cnn.com/2008/US/11/14/woman.4.star.general/index.html Ghajar, L. (n.d.). Persian Gulf War. Retrieved January 10, 2009, from Hagen, M. (2004). Women in the Military. Retrieved December 15, 2008, from http://www.mscd.edu/~history/camphale/wim_001.html Holm, J. (1982). Women in the Military an Unfinished Revolution. Novato, CA: Presidio Press. Lewis, J. (n.d.). About Women and World War II. Retrieved January 3, 2009, from http://womenshistory.about.com/od/warwwii/a/military.htm Norris, M. (2007, October 1, 2007). Roles for Women in U.S. Army Expand. NPR. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14869648 Solaro, E. (2006). Women in the Line of Fire: What You Should Know About Women in the Military. Emeryville, CA: Seal Press. Wilson, B. (1996). Military Women "Firsts" and their History. Retrieved January 5, 2009, from http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/firsts.html Wilson, B. (1996). Vietnam-Southeast Asia. Retrieved December 29,2008, from http://userpages.aug.com/captbarb/femvetsnam.html Women in the Army-Historical Highlights. (n.d.) Retrieved January 11, 2009 , from http://www.asamra.army.mil/eo/eo_docs/Women in the Army - Historical Highlights.doc Woolf, V. (n.d.). World of Quotes. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from http://www.worldofquotes.com/author/Virginia-Woolf/1/index.html
About the Author: My name is Heather. I am 25 years old and currently live in Vicenza, Italy, with my husband of 2 years. I have no children but I have two cats. I currently am studying to become a social worker. I have always loved to write but never had a chance to show what I can do. I hope to eventually become better at writing and maybe write a book one day!
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This is such an extraordinary article written by Heather that I just had to share this here and at FLOW (FOR THE LOVE OF WOMAN)!
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