Women in the Military
Many great woman today and of the past years have fought and died for their country; all any of them want is the right and freedom to defend this great nation. There are many women we remember who threw their hats to the wind and fought the great wars that needed to be fought, whether or not the powers that be (men) wanted them.
It’s tough to be a woman in this man’s army. For the past century, American women have been fighting for equal rights in the home, the work place, in sports, and the same right to defend out nation; now in the new Millennium, we are still told that we are not able to sacrifice our lives for our country. Why is it that with all the advancements and how far we’ve come, this country is still willing to turn a deaf ear to the cries of the women of America who are screaming out: “Let me fight for the ones I love?”
History contains a few examples of women who fought for their country. Joan of Arc disguised herself as a man to help the French defeat the English, but when it came to her end, the men in power turned a deaf ear on her cries rising out of the fire that took her life. During the Civil War, Florena Budwin, a wife looking to help make a difference for the people of America had to disguise herself as a man to help fight beside the boys in blue in the hopes to overcome the power of the South, but to no avail: she was captured alongside her husband. When she was found out to be a woman, she was shipped off to the infamous Anderson Prison Virginia, where she had to watch her beloved husband die… then shipped off to Florence prison in South Carolina where she was told to help take care of wounded soldiers. After her death in 1865, she was allowed to be buried beside her husband, a Union soldier, in the first National Cemetery, Florence National Cemetery. It was almost a half a century later when Arlington National Cemetery was placed in the heart of our nation’s capitol, but still to this day many of the women who have lost their lives overseas and on the home front are not allowed to be buried there simply because they were not recognized to be true soldiers only women fallen in another nation. ( Wilson B., (1996-2005) Women in Combat)
According to The Center For Defense Information, a television broadcast went out on the 28th of February in 1993 called women warriors. In this broadcast the world was informed how long it has taken our leaders to realize the potential that a woman can hold in battle. In the broadcast, it was stated, “By World War II, rapidly evolving weapons and communications technology had changed the nature of warfare. For the first time, support troop requirements outnumbered the need for combat soldiers. Beginning in 1942, separate military services for women were established, including the Army WAC’s (Women Army Auxiliary Corps), the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), the Air force WASP’S (Women Air force Service Pilots), and the Coast Guard SPARS (Semper Paratus-always ready to serve)”. Wilson B., 1996-2005 Women in Combat
Women did not gain professional status until 1948, when President Truman signed the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act into law. The law allowed women to serve in the regular and reserve forces, but limited their number to 2% of the military’s total force. (Air date Feb. 28th, 1993). But our jobs were still limited to non-combat positions, and even today there are over 300 total jobs that are offered to a man, but only 249 to a woman. CDI Policy [nd] January 28,1998 Women in the U.S. Military October 21, 2005, http://coelacanth.aug.com
Since the birth of our nation women have put their lives on the line to defend our land from the Revolutionary War, to the Civil War, all the way up to modern day Desert Storm but nowhere will we find the mothers and daughters names recorded in the books. It wasn’t until Dr. Mary Walker the only woman in history to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor that a woman was recognizes. After being held prisoner in a Confederate camp for four months Dr. Walker was tortured then executed for being a spy for the Union. President Lincoln awarded her with this honor only because of the high-profile press that it brought with it. But what of the other women who lost their lives on the front lines during the Civil War? Why weren’t they awarded any honors for saving the lives of the great men who were fighting for the freedom of all?
In the 1990’s, the Army attempted to initiate integrated basic training, but too many of the men in power felt that it was, holding the men back, and not allowing them to live up their full potential, because they have to “carry” the women through their training. When it came to physical training the women had a set standard to perform along with the men; unfortuntly the standards were too different for the separate genders. The women were pushed to exshagtion and injuries while the men had little to push for since the Drill Sergeants were more concerned with the women making the grade. The integrated training was then reprieved and segregated training was put back into effect. According to an article released by the Center for Defense Information on January 28th, (1998), the powers that be stated, “The Military must reevaluate all Military Occupational Specialties, (MOS) and set a single gender neutral standard, not substandard, for each job based upon actual battlefield requirements. A double standard for any military occupation decreases combat effectiveness and is a source of friction between male and female members of the armed services.”
In a 1993 interview, Colonel David Hackworth was asked if he thought that women should be allowed into combat he replied, “I think it’s what role you play. My daughter was in the Coast Guard as an aviator for four years. I’m quite sure she could fly a gunship. My daughter is five foot two; she would not make a very good grunt. I think that women should have the opportunity to do what they’re capable of doing.” (Air date Feb 28, 1993). Even excluding women from combat because we are scared that the men will try to protect them more than need be, would be put them in more danger and would break down the capability on the front line. In fact, in the Red Army the use of female guerrillas and in the European resistance, the successful use of network females-shows that they can handle and perform their duties very successfully. Also the Red Army Air Force pilots are made up of 12% females and many of the female pilots are aces, which shows you that the women’s’ records and their abilities speak for themselves. If a Colonel can see through all the red tape even with his own daughter serving her country with pride, why can’t the rest of America do the same?
If we look at the role of women in the military and how they can and will be equal we need to look at the Israeli Army. This is what David Ben Gurion had to say about it: “The Army is the supreme symbol of duty, and as long as women are not equal to men in performing this duty, they have not yet obtained true equality. If the daughters of Israel are absent from the army, then the character of the Yishuv (Jewish community in Israel) will be distorted.” These women are important to the army; they are in combat positions even flight school. Is there a difference in the quality of the women in out two countries…or is there another reason America does not feel that women can do the job?
Army researchers came up with a new study that concludes that, when a woman is correctly trained, she can be as tough as any man, the 1995 report by the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine at Natick, led by senior analyst Everett Harman. Harman concluded, “Throughout a regimen of regular jogging, weight training, and other rigorous exercise, more than 75% of the 41 women studied were able to prepare themselves to successfully perform duties traditionally performed by males in the military.” This 24 week rigorous training program was in May of 1995 with everyday women, housewives, lawyers, bartenders, and students. They ran two miles a day carrying a 75 lb. rucksack, and were told to perform squats while holding a 100 lbs. barbell in their shoulders. Finally, as Captain Barbara Wilson retired U.S. Air Force points out, “This training proved to help break down one of the last walls that was keeping women out of the battlefield.” General Colin Powell, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated this very well when he said, “We can no longer go to war without women.”
So now, today with all the chaos and destruction in the world it is more important than ever to allow everyone to “Be All They Can Be”. A woman’s life is no more dispensable-or valuable-than a man’s, and we should allow our mothers, daughters, and sisters the same rights that we give to our brothers. A woman can hold her own in combat. So, America: let’s make it “and justice for ALL.”
Eckman, F., Military Service Benefits Women [Electronic version] Opposing viewpoints resource center, Retrieved June 22, 2006, from http://www.galenet.galegroup.com
Wilson, B., (1996-2005). Women in Combat [CD-ROM]. Florida: Aug Link.
Wilson B., (unknown). Women in World War II-They also served. October 21,2005, http://coelacanth.aug.com/captbarb/femvetsalso.html
CDI’s Policy [no author]. (January 28, 1998). Women in the U.S. Military October 19, 2005, http://www.cdi.org/issues/women/cdipol.html
Pfluke L., (1998). Women Should Serve in Combat. “No: Women have proven they can do the job,”. May 8, 1995 New world Communications.
Mary E. Ed. (1995). Working Women. City: Greenhaven Press.
Women Warriors [no author or organization]. (February 28,1993). October 19, 2005, http://www.cdi.org/adm/Transcripts/624/