Second-Class Soldiers?

The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq“Nobody believes me when I say I’m a veteran,” she said.

“I was in Iraq getting bombed and shot at, but people won’t even listen when I say I was at war.

You know why? Because I’m a female.”

In Iraq, one in ten troops is a woman.

They join the military for the same reasons men do–to escape dead-end towns or dysfunctional families, to pay for college or seek adventure, to follow their ideals or find a career–only to find themselves denigrated and sexually hounded by many of the “brothers” on whom they are supposed to rely. And when they go to war, this harassment does not necessarily stop. The double traumas of combat and sexual persecution may be why a 2008 RAND study found that female veterans are suffering double the rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for their male counterparts.

Over 206,000 have served in the Middle East since March 2003, most of them in Iraq; and over 600 have been wounded and 104 have died in Iraq alone.

More than 2,000 women who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan have been awarded Bronze Stars, several for bravery and valor in combat; more than 1,300 have earned the Combat Action Badge; and two have been awarded Silver Stars, the military’s top honor for bravery in combat… but: More female troops have died in Iraq of non-hostile causes than have been killed in battle.