Women in Combat from Different Perspectives

The first article was published in USA Today and begins with the reference to Lt. Halfaker, a woman who lost her arm in the Iraq war, who was featured on the cover of a recent USA Today issue. The article examines the reasons why women have been kept from direct combat, often suggesting that the genders should be equal in their potential as a soldier. The article explains that Congress was trying to pass a bill that would give them, instead of the military, control of how women serve and whether they should see combat. The article includes a number of statistics, including the fact that women now make up 15% of the armed services and 10% of those currently serving overseas. We also learn that 2% of the casualties have been women, despite the fact that they are not allowed in combat. The author mentions that women do not want Congress to have control over their service if it means keeping them from the front lines. This view is backed up by Halfaker who suggests that women on the front lines are inevitable. The view of traditionalists is presented, showing that they believe that the public is not prepared to see women in combat. However, the overwhelming response to stories such as Halfaker’s shows quite the contrary, and the American public’s willingness to honor the sacrifice of these women shows that they are willing to see women in combat.

The second article outlines the different agencies that are working for research in women’s health issues, specializing in the health needs of women in the military. The article goes most deeply into the work of the Defense Women’s Health Research Program or DWHRP. As the author says, the DWHRP continues to recognize the important roles that women serve in the armed forces and repays their efforts with increasingly efficient research into their health issues. The article states that military women share the same health concerns as non-military women, but that their specific issues go beyond these, into issues of mental health and combat trauma, working in a male-intensive environment, the effect of military service on reproductive health and mental health, and more. The DWHRP claims that women are equal to men in their ability to serve in the military. The author believes that these agencies should continue to work for breakthroughs in women’s health to honor the work they do in the military and concludes that organizations such as the DWHRP, VA, and DoD have incredible potential in the future of women’s health.

The last article, like the first, raises the issue of women in combat. First, we are given a history of women in combat, describing the significant growth in numbers from the seventies when approximately 1% of the military was female. The author goes on to explain that a risk women take in wanting to be in combat is that they will be subject to the draft. The author presents several arguments against women serving in combat and also presents the other side of the argument. For example, an argument for women in combat is that the military needs as large a pool of applicants as possible, but those against women in combat say that allowing women in would create the need for quotas which would lead to an increase of women who are unqualified for their job. Another con is the threat of molestation and rape which increases with the number of women in the armed forces. Another con is the threat to “esprit de corps” which is the cohesiveness of the group. Some believe that the introduction of women threatens the cohesiveness of the group because men can’t trust their physical ability, as well as the threat of romance and pregnancy which can be distracting and testing to trust and can take women out of the armed forces (especially pregnancy). The author ends by saying that regardless of gender, the military must be able to access the best-suited people for the job.

Works Cited

Perlin, Jonathan B. “Women in the Military: New Perspectives, New Science” (2005). Journal of Women’s Health. Volume 14. Issue 9.

“Women already see combat” (2005). USA Today. Page 13.

Willens, Jake. “Women in the Military: Combat Roles Considered” (1996). Center for Defense Information Website. Internet. Online. 2008. Web.

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