Military Women: All Guts, No Glory

It’s time for the U.S. military to recognize women in combat

| March/April 2012

  • Female Soldier Graveyard
    Military women today constitute almost one-sixth of the armed forces, yet their efforts are seldom recognized.
  • Ms. Magazine
    "Ms." has been on the leading edge of feminist politics, art, and culture since 1972.

  • Female Soldier Graveyard
  • Ms. Magazine

Captain Dawn Halfaker saw a flash of light and heard an explosion—then suffered shrapnel wounds, a 12-day coma, and the amputation of her right arm.

Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla collected the remains of a suicide bomber and his victims from a room where blood ran down the walls—then endured years of nightmares.

Private First Class Lori Piestewa was ambushed by insurgents, who killed three of the passengers in her Humvee—then was taken captive and died of her head wounds.

If you ask the U.S. military, none of these women officially served in battle. That’s because females in the armed forces don’t technically fight in ground combat. But the Department of Defense (DOD) policy belies the reality of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its willful avoidance of the truth denies military women safety training, health care, and career advancement.

“It’s time to give servicewomen the recognition they deserve,” says Brigadier General Evelyn Foote, president emerita of the Alliance for National Defense in Alexandria, Virginia. “Let’s join the 21st century and shed this exclusionary policy.”


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