Female Combat Veterans Share Experiences Through Exhibit
September 10, 2008
Fort Lee, Va. (Sept. 10, 2008) -- A new exhibit at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond will feature portraits and experiences of Fort Lee female combat veterans.
The exhibition, entitled "When Janey Comes Marching Home: Portraits of Women Combat Veterans," is a series of large-scale photographic portraits accompanied by oral histories of American female military members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The public reception will be held Friday evening at 1812 West Main Street. The exhibit runs through Nov. 16.
The exhibit is a joint effort of photographer Sascha Pflaeging and author Laura Browder.
"The powerful images and accompanying stories making up this exhibition should heighten awareness, generate discussion and broaden public understanding of women Soldiers and their wartime experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Ashley Kistler, exhibition curator. "We hope 'When Janey Comes Marching Home' will also undermine stereotypes and preconceptions about women in war."
Capt. Beth Rohler, 49th Quartermaster Group adjutant and public affairs officer, is among the Soldiers represented in the exhibition.
"I feel it is important for the public to hear good news stories related to deployments," said Rohler. "Americans need to hear the other side of the 'tragic' story the media sometimes portrays."
Rohler said her story was about the daily life in Iraq.
"I shared stories from my deployment, most of which are pretty boring compared to others," she said. "I was a platoon leader in a field services company that provided laundry and shower services to Soldiers in combat. My unit did not see any hostile action aside from mortar fire.
"It wasn't too different from being here in the states, but we did service Soldiers who were kicking in doors and losing fellow Soldiers in combat, so we got a little taste of it," Rohler said.
Another Fort Lee Soldier, Staff Sgt. Connica P. McFadden, Company R, 262nd QM Battalion, Petroleum and Water Department instruction writer, participated in the exhibit to let people see the role of women in combat.
"Some people think that we are in the back while all the work is being done," McFadden said. "I let them know that we weren't just doing clerical work. Female Soldiers also had to kick in doors, do convoys and pull guard and security shifts."
Female military members contribute a lot to combat operations, said Rohler.
"Women play such an important role in our military today, and those roles have evolved very quickly since the woman's first opportunity in the Women's Army Corps," she said. "I consider myself an equal among my male peers and do not see my gender as either an advantage or disadvantage."
McFadden wants the exhibit to enlighten her fellow female Soldiers.
"I wanted to reach out to other young female Soldiers and military spouses," she said. "It (the exhibition) shows people that we are out there getting the job done while also dealing with the stresses of missing our children and Families. We see the same things everyone else sees. I want females to know that we can get the job done."
(Information for this article provided by the Visual Arts Center of Richmond.)