November 7, 2009
Iraq since 2003, and 428 have been
wounded. While still officially relegated
to support positions and barred from infantry
or armored divisions, such distinctions
mean little when even the enemy isn't clear
and any position can be a target. Despite
all of these facts, for U.S. citizens, the image
of a veteran is still firmly masculine
"Many women worry about critics declaring
too many differences between them
and their male counterparts and are most
proud of the ways in which they've shown
themselves to be equal," said Navy Chief
Leah Gentry, Equal Opportunity non-commissioned
officer in charge for the Expeditionary
Logistics Support Group, Kuwait.
"Each year women gain more equality in
the military and at the same time we take
on more leadership roles and play a bigger
part in the overall picture."
Take for example the story of Army
Capt. Amabilia Hogg, a married mother
of two boys who is currently attached to
Third Army as a Public Affairs Officer
with the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense
Command. Hogg, on her third deployment,
has seen plenty of action starting
back in 2003.
"My first deployment was during the
first Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was a
[Military Police] officer and Platoon Leader
as a lieutenant," said Hogg. "When I
got to Iraq, I had to learn on the fly. Soon
after I arrived we were conducting patrols
and combat missions. Women Soldiers
were busting down doors and clearing
rooms right alongside the men."
Hogg says she has always sensed a stigma
in the Army with women who are in
"Can she do it as well as he can, and
does she have the toughness to do the job
and get respect from the Soldiers," asked
Hogg. "These are the things you have to
fight through as a woman to prove you
have what it takes to lead."
Some 28,000 of the 274,000 servicemembers
currently deployed are women.
Women make up fifteen percent of the
U.S. military. More than 16,000 single
mothers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan
as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom
and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Women seem to get a fair shake more
than ever before thanks in large part to the
command climate that has improved in the
military," said Gentry. "However, with
this comes sacrifice. Many women have
to spend time away from their families on
multiple deployments in order to meet the
needs of the military."
Just as battle techniques have changed,
so has the composition of the military and
women's roles in it. More than 102,000
women veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan
have separated from the military, and so
far, more than 48,000 have received health
care from Veterans Affairs.
With these statsistics today's military
women have evolved from just the clerical
and nursing positions of the Word War
"History will teach future generations
about all the dangerous things women
have done in regards to OIF and OEF,"
said Hogg. "I am proud to serve my country
during this very important time."