Sunday, May 2, 2010

Women At Arms--a Combat Role, and Anguish Too

Click on the title to read one of a series of articles from The New York Times written about women veterans. As a recently retired Air Force nurse (Colonel), I am ever grateful to all who serve our country and I appreciate the author's efforts to highlight the triumphs and struggles of women veterans. I encourage you to take the time to read all the comments as they really add to the richness of the article and the discussion. While there are a few who think women shouldn't be in the military or in combat, most commenters are grateful for the service and sacrifice of all women vets, and that's a good thing, a step in the right direction. No doubt about it we need to work with our current government on all levels, especially the VA, to ensure the very best treatment of our vets when they return from war.

Some of the commenters seemed to think that focusing on the struggles of these women does more harm than good, that it perpetuates their "victim" status. I disagree. The first step to solving a problem is to identify the problem and acknowledge it exists. A lot of the anguish experienced here is related to lack of recognition and validation--of the problem itself, of women's status as vets, of combat related status, and just plain recognition of service. Even with more women joining the service and taking on more combat roles, there is still a tendency to overlook them as "real" vets. Recognition, then validation are the first steps to healing.

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