Monday, February 20, 2012

My Reaction to DoD opens 14,000 Army jobs to women

My feelings on this can pretty much be summed up in the quote from Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center,

"It's good, but it's not very much more of a step forward."

I totally concur.  I've written very passionately about this.  I guess I would have mixed feelings if the barriers were removed right now because I've already started my military career and I'm generally happy being a Transporter, but it should still be changed.  I'm really thrilled General Odierno is pushing for more changes, even though I know a lot of his quotes come from a similar article about a month or so ago.  He expressed disappointment the deadline for reviewing the gender policy was not met and he spoke highly of the real contributions women make in our Army.

Unfortunately, I believe a larger percentage than are speaking openly and plainly in interviews and from podiums are reluctant to see the change.  Someone said to me today referencing the article with a shrug about women being in combat:

[Just saying...] "Could you pull me out of a burning vehicle?"

I wish I'd had a better retort on hand, but I was off guard and tired.  I wished I had mentioned Sgt. Monica Brown, the medic who may not have pulled anyone who weighed a ridiculous amount more than her from a burning HMMWV, but who shielded Soldiers with her own body in Afghanistan one day, risking her life to treat the wounded.  And beyond that, on countless missions she provided much needed aid to the unit she was attached to.  Though just doing her job she was awarded a Silver Star for valor.  A few days after the flurry of media attention though, she was pulled from the area because she was too close to combat according to current policies.  According to the unit taking her out on missions though, there was no other medic to take at the time.

Now, reading a story like that, why turn to me and ask bluntly if I could carry you out of a burning vehicle?  I think of the guys who already push 200 lb when they are in plain clothes.  Could he pull that guy with a full combat load and body armor on out of a burning vehicle if the seat belt is in place?  I mean let's quit with the what if statements, these hypothetical scenarios don't address the real issue.

The real issue is that women deserve as much fair treatment in this government job as they receive in any other.  The real problems are not about the chivalry of men, the emotional reaction to combat, or the physical demand of their jobs.  Real problems may be privacy, and preventing affirmative action from debilitating the fighting force.  Additionally, the article mentioned the so few women in high ranks because the best career jobs in the army are in fields closed to women.  For me it is not really about the 'Brass Ceiling'... though that part does have some legitimate backing and research.  If the Army is viewed from purely a career standpoint, than it is a problem, but from a more traditional standpoint, call it nostalgic maybe, but from the the standpoint that the Armed Forces are the real life heroes of a nation - the defenders and upholders of the Constitution - it's just plain heartbreaking.  Ask me can I pull you from a burning vehicle... but then let me try.  Don't look at me, my gender, and simply shake your head.  Defense officials say there is no Brass Ceiling, and that women have "no disadvantage in... promotion rate."  Wonderful, so women have not been detrimental or performed any worse than men in all the jobs they are allowed?  So, give us a chance in the Infantry.  Give America's daughters a shot at Eleven Bravo (11B)!  I think she may surprise you if you'd give her half the chance.

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