Sunday, December 4, 2016

History Proves Women in Military Matter

When I grew up, this was the image of female veterans I had in my mind. Women were nurses and they went to war to take care of the men doing all the fighting. Back then, I had two excuses. One, was being surrounded by male veterans, and the other, my simple youthful ignorance.

My Dad was a Korean War veteran and my Uncles were veterans of WWII. I didn't know any female veterans. We went to the VFW and DAV events where I saw women with caps and the word "Auxiliary" but I hardly ever saw any with the word "Veteran" on caps other than those on men.

It wasn't until the 90's, when I beg meeting female veterans that I understood there were many of them and not all of them were nurses. We have a true misunderstanding of female veterans today as well. 

When we discover a female veteran has PTSD, some automatically jump to the conclusion she must have been a victim of military sexual assault instead of remembering they have also been deployed into wars. As simple humans the exposures were the same for females as well as males, including sexual assaults. 
Experts: Males Also Are Victims of Sexual Assault
The number of males sexually assaulted in the military is sobering, the experts said.

“[About] 10,800 men are sexually assaulted every year in the military,” Strand said. “[Roughly] 8,000 women are assaulted.”

Few military males report being victims of sexual assault, he said. Only 1,134 men reported attacks -- roughly 13 percent of those attacked. With women, 39 percent reported attacks.
Yep, one more thing we don't think about. Male soldiers are sexually assaulted as well, and no, get the gay notion out of your head. Gay service members have been in the military all along.

With that out of the way, time to actually talk about some other overlooked facts. Military women have received every award including the Medal of Honor. Yes, that's right, the Medal of Honor was presented to Dr. Mary Edwards Walker for bravery during the Civil War.

The Department of Defense Women's History
Military Women Firsts:The First to Receive Pensions for Military Service
Contrary to slanted opinions about women there is a long historical precedent for women in some form of warfare - though not always in a uniform. For the early pioneer women "home defense" was as routine as drawing well water. And in the Revolutionary decade the first known woman to serve was awarded the first pension for her service.

Margaret Corbin fought with her husband at Fort Washington and in 1779 Congress voted her a disability pension of one half a soldiers pay and one suit of clothes or the equivalent in cash.

Years later, another Revolutionary heroine, Deborah Samson, was granted a pension by the Massachussettes legislature in 1804 and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania awarded Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley a pension in 1822 of forty dollars a year "for services rendered" during the war.

During the Mexican War, Elizabeth C. Newcume, in male attire, was mustered into military service at Fort Leavenworth in September 1847. She served ten months and spent time fighting indians at Dodge City until her sex was discovered and she was discharged. It took a private act of congress to pay Elizabeth Newcume who received a bounty land warrant for 160 acres and full payment for ten months service, plus three months extra pay, as provided in the 5th section of the act of 19 July 1848.
The First to Receive Medals
The first, and only, woman to receive The Medal of Honor was Dr. Mary E. Walker, a contract surgeon during the Civil War.

The first woman to receive The Purple Heart was Annie G. Fox while serving at Hickam Field during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec 7 1941.

The first woman to receive The Bronze Star was 1Lt Cordelia E. Cook, Army Nurse Corps, during WWII in Italy. Lt Cook was also awarded The Purple Heart, becoming the first woman to receive two awards.

Lt Edith Greenwood was awarded The Soldiers Medal in 1943 for heroism during a fire at a military hospital in Yuma Arizona - the first woman to receive this award.

The first woman to receive The Air Medal was Lt Elsie S. Ott awarded for her actions in 1943 as an air evac nurse.

Barbara Olive Barnwell was the first woman awarded the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for heroism in 1953. Barbara Barnwell , a SSGT from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and a member of the Marine Reserve, saved a soldier from drowning in 1952.

Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, the first Director of the WAC, was the first woman to receive The U.S. Army Distinguished Service Medal in 1945.

For more on women who have received military medals see: Medals Awarded
The First to Enlist
Philadelphian Loretta Walsh enlisted in March of 1917 and became the first Yeoman (F) in the Navy.

Twin sisters Genevieve and Lucille Baker joined the Coast Guard.

In August of 1918 Opha M. Johnson enlisted as the first woman in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.

The truth is, since the beginning of this nation, women have risked their lives to defend it. That is what makes them so amazing because after everything generations of military women have had to endure, above and beyond what males do, they still fight like hell to serve side by side with them.

They know what they will face when it comes to being deployed. They know what they will face when it comes to fighting the attitude they shouldn't be in the military, along with threat of sexual assaults, and they know they will have to leave their families but they want to do it anyway.

Today they are fighting almost every occupation the males do.

When you think about military women and female veterans, maybe you will see them through the eyes of knowledge and gratitude instead of ignorance and ambivalence.

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