Women Warriors: Issues Confronting Servicewomen and Women Veterans

About a week ago I had the opportunity to attend a panel at the national NOW conference titled “Women Warriors: Issues Confronting Servicewomen and Women Veterans.”

Led by Anu Bhahwati, Executive Director of SWAN, and Greg Jacob of SWAN, the Service Women’s Action Network, the workshop was meant to educate conference participants about an issue that still fails to garner mainstream attention, the treatment of women service workers and veterans. I was so disturbed by the gravity of the situation that I have decided to dedicate my next three Feminists for Choice posts to the issue.

It may not come as a surprise to Feminists for Choice readers that sexual assault is an appalling problem facing female troops. Among the more startling statistics:

  • From 2008 to 2009 there was an increase of 11% in reported military sexual assaults. The Department of Defense reported 3,230 assaults in 2009 (the department’s last report).
  • In 2008 there were 163 sexual assaults reported in Iraq and Afghanistan alone.
  • Under-reporting of sexual assault is an even larger problem in the military than outside. The Department of Defense reports estimates that 80% of assaults go unreported. (The Department of Justice estimates that 60% of civilian sexual assaults go unreported.) [Read more...]

Female Sergeant Victimized by Department of Veteran Affairs

women veteransI don’t think it comes as a big shocker to anyone reading this article that women are systematically disenfranchised in the military. Not only are they subject to tremendous levels of sexual violence at the hands of various enemy soldiers, they are also constantly harassed, belittled, and violated by their male colleagues. Women now make up for about 11% of military personal in both Iraq & Afghanistan, yet they are continuously degraded, humiliated, and alienated from a system that prides itself on false notions of heroic behavior.

Sergeant Cara Hammer returned from her deployment in Iraq in 2005 thinking that her days of fighting had come to a halt. Little did she know that there were plenty of battles ahead. Cara returned from combat suffering from what is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Like many veterans who also suffer from PTSD, Cara sought out for emotional and physical support. Unfortunately for Cara, the Department of Veteran Affairs did everything but provide her with the support she desperately needed. Cara shares her first experience at a VA hospital. [Read more...]