Women in the military deserve props, too
by ALLISON CRYER
Servicewomen over the past three decades have seen more combat action than ever before in American history, and many have paid the ultimate price.
More servicewomen have been killed in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq than all of their predecessors who died in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined, according to the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA).
Over the past two weeks, I have attended several Veterans Day programs, but I only noticed one female veteran in attendance at any of those ceremonies.
There are nearly two million women veterans living in the U.S. today, according to VA. I thought I would take use of this space to give props to our many female veterans that have put their lives at risk for all Americans.
Despite the many challenges servicewomen face both inside and outside of their military lives, many brave women have served their country in battle throughout history.
According to VA, as of March of this year, there were 214,098 women currently serving in the U.S. military, making up 14.6 percent of all U.S. military personnel.
Women make up over 19 percent of the U.S. Air Force; 16 percent of the U.S. Navy; nearly 16 percent of the U.S. Coast Guard; over 13 percent of the U.S. Army, and almost seven percent of the U.S. Marine Corps. There are currently 118,781 women serving in reserves and over 15 percent of the U.S. National Guard is made up of women.
A veteran – whether a male or female, active duty, discharged, reserve, retired or deceased – is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check payable to the U.S., for an amount up to and including his or her life. Many have marched through minefields, maintained aircraft, guarded perimeters, accepted the surrender of soldiers and subsequently pulled guard duty. Whether male or female, all veterans deserve recognition.
There have also been many women that were taken prisoner and some lost their lives. According to VA, one woman was held captive as a prisoner of war during the Civil War; 90 women during World War II; two women during Desert Storm; and three women were held captive during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Today’s military has more women in constant combat environments than ever before in its history. Servicewomen today sustain the same types of injuries their male counterparts endure. According to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, more than 280 servicewomen have received the Purple Heart for injuries suffered in battle.
I want to say thank you to all the women who serve as our nation’s protectors, often leaving their families at home without a mother, wife or sister while they selflessly devote their lives to fighting for the freedom of all Americans. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed.
Although Veterans Day has already come and gone, take the time today to thank a female veteran in your community. Their efforts to preserve peace are just as important as their male counterparts.
Things like race, religion and gender are secondary to the many challenges and threats faced daily on the battlefield. We are one nation under God, not one male and one female nation, and we should take the time to celebrate the many brave women who answer the call of duty to serve and protect our nation.
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