Women in Combat – Part II

Since my last post about women in combat sparked such a great discussion, I thought I would share this article that I saw online recently.

It’s a counter argument to my point of view that women should be allowed in combat roles in the military.

I think it’s a very well written article with a lot of great points, even if I don’t agree with the overall opinion of the author.

One might wonder why I am posting an article whose opinion I don’t agree with, but as I said before I enjoy a good debate. For most issues I think that both side of the argument have very good points, and I can understand both sides of the issue. If the both sides didn’t have a valid case for their opinion then there probably wouldn’t be much of a debate to begin with! We would just have a clear winner.

I’m a female veteran. I deployed to Anbar Province, Iraq. When I was active duty, I was 5’6, 130 pounds, and scored nearly perfect on my PFTs. I naturally have a lot more upper body strength than the average woman: not only can I do pull-ups, I can meet the male standard. I would love to have been in the infantry. And I still think it will be an unmitigated disaster to incorporate women into combat roles. I am not interested in risking men’s lives so I can live my selfish dream.

 

We’re not just talking about watering down the standards to include the politically correct number of women into the unit. This isn’t an issue of “if a woman can meet the male standard, she should be able to go into combat.” The number of women that can meet the male standard will be miniscule–I’d have a decent shot according to my PFTs, but dragging a 190-pound man in full gear for 100 yards would DESTROY me–and that miniscule number that can physically make the grade AND has the desire to go into combat will be facing an impossible situation that will ruin the combat effectiveness of the unit. First, the close quarters of combat units make for a complete lack of privacy and EVERYTHING is exposed, to include intimate details of bodily functions. Second, until we succeed in completely reprogramming every man in the military to treat women just like men, those men are going to protect a woman at the expense of the mission. Third, women have physical limitations that no amount of training or conditioning can overcome. Fourth, until the media in this country is ready to treat a captured/raped/tortured/mutilated female soldier just like a man, women will be targeted by the enemy without fail and without mercy.

 

I saw the male combat units when I was in Iraq. They go outside the wire for days at a time. They eat, sleep, urinate and defecate in front of each other and often while on the move. There’s no potty break on the side of the road outside the wire. They urinate into bottles and defecate into MRE bags. I would like to hear a suggestion as to how a woman is going to urinate successfully into a bottle while cramped into a humvee wearing full body armor. And she gets to accomplish this feat with the male members of her combat unit twenty inches away. Volunteers to do that job? Do the men really want to see it? Should they be forced to?

 

Everyone wants to point to the IDF as a model for gender integration in the military. No, the IDF does not put women on the front lines. They ran into the same wall the US is about to smack into: very few women can meet the standards required to serve there. The few integrated units in the IDF suffered three times the casualties of the all-male units because the Israeli men, just like almost every other group of men on the planet, try to protect the women even at the expense of the mission. Political correctness doesn’t trump thousands of years of evolution and societal norms. Do we really WANT to deprogram that instinct from men?

 

Regarding physical limitations, not only will a tiny fraction of women be able to meet the male standard, the simple fact is that women tend to be shorter than men. I ran into situations when I was deployed where I simply could not reach something. I wasn’t tall enough. I had to ask a man to get it for me. I can’t train myself to be taller. Yes, there are small men…but not so nearly so many as small women. More, a military PFT doesn’t measure the ability to jump. Men, with more muscular legs and bones that carry more muscle mass than any woman can condition herself to carry, can jump higher and farther than women. That’s why we have a men’s standing jump and long jump event in the Olympics separate from women. When you’re going over a wall in Baghdad that’s ten feet high, you have to be able to be able to reach the top of it in full gear and haul yourself over. That’s not strength per se, that’s just height and the muscular explosive power to jump and reach the top. Having to get a boost from one of the men so you can get up and over could get that man killed.

 

Without pharmaceutical help, women just do not carry the muscle mass men do. That muscle mass is also a shock absorber. Whether it’s the concussion of a grenade going off, an IED, or just a punch in the face, a woman is more likely to go down because she can’t absorb the concussion as well as a man can. And I don’t care how the PC forces try to slice it, in hand-to-hand combat the average man is going to destroy the average woman because the average woman is smaller, period. Muscle equals force in any kind of strike you care to perform. That’s why we don’t let female boxers face male boxers.

 

Lastly, this country and our military are NOT prepared to see what the enemy will do to female POWs. The Taliban, AQ, insurgents, jihadis, whatever you want to call them, they don’t abide by the Geneva Conventions and treat women worse than livestock. Google Thomas Tucker and Kristian Menchaca if you want to see what they do to our men (and don’t google it unless you have a strong stomach) and then imagine a woman in their hands. How is our 24/7 news cycle going to cover a captured, raped, mutilated woman? After the first one, how are the men in the military going to treat their female comrades? ONE Thomasina Tucker is going to mean the men in the military will move heaven and earth to protect women, never mind what it does to the mission. I present you with Exhibit A: Jessica Lynch. Male lives will be lost trying to protect their female comrades. And the people of the US are NOT, based on the Jessica Lynch episode, prepared to treat a female POW the same way they do a man.

 

I say again, I would have loved to be in the infantry. I think I could have done it physically, I could’ve met almost all the male standards (jumping aside), and I think I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever came. But I would never do that to the men. I would never sacrifice the mission for my own desires. And I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if someone died because of me.

 

– Sentry

Advertisements

God Blessed the Broken Road

Last night while laying in bed with my husband I felt overwhelmed with love for him. I could physically feel a tightness in my chest, the involuntary smile and a happiness that comes from being married to such a perfect man for me.

It made me think about how lucky I am, and about how many things went good and bad in my life, that in the end lead me to an amazing love.

It reminds me of the song “God Bless the Broken Road”

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like Northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you

The first step of our “broken road” was both of us moving to San Diego from opposite sides of the country. Jeremy joining the Marine Corps and being stationed at Camp Pendleton 6 months prior to our meeting. Me, decided to go to college at San Diego State and moving down to San Diego 9 months prior to our meeting.

Next step: right place, right time.

The night I met Jeremy, two events lead me to go to the bar that night as a single woman.

#1: I had just finished my first year of college. My last final had been the day before, so my roommate and I decided we should go out and celebrate.

#2: The guy that I had recently started dating was being a jerk. I finally decided that I deserved to be treated better, that I wasn’t going to continue to put effort into a relationship that wasn’t making me happy. So I broke up with him.

All those events added up to me at my favorite country bar as a single woman open to talking to a cute cowboy

There were two events in Jeremy’s life that lead him to the bar that night as a single man.

#1: His fiancee of nearly 4 years broke things off with him right before he got stationed in California. Newley single, he decided to enjoy single life and date around a bit.

#2: He had a really bad day at work which was how his buddies convinced him to go to his least favorite bar that night to let off steam.

So there Jeremy is, at a country bar, single and open to meeting a nice girl.

Then there we both were, single, in the same bar, on the same night.

Finally, in the midst of thousands of people, my friend picks his friend to hit on, and I pick him to flirt with to help her out as her “wing woman”.

One meeting, that was all it took for our love story to begin. We exchanged numbers that night and became boyfriend and girlfriend the following weekend after our first official date. Six months later we got engaged, eloped three months after and now are approaching our four year wedding anniversary and I am still blissfully, head-over-heels, in love with the country boy I met when I was 19 years-old at a bar on a random night.

So many things had to happen and go right for us to meet that night.  Both of us had to go through heart break and negative experiences that lead us to meeting each other. If one thing had been different, I would never know the love that I haven now with Jeremy. It’s almost scary to think how close I came to not meeting him, how slim our chances were to spark a romance that night that has lead to a lifetime love.

It’s all part of a grander plan that is coming true

God blessed the broken road

That led me straight to you

Women in Combat

It was recently announced that women are now to be allowed to serve in combat roles in the U.S. military.

I am a supporter of this change, but my husband is not.

Normally I would defer to my husband on most military topics, seeing as he is the one who is actually in the military and has the experience. But since he doesn’t serve on the front lines in a combat role (he is a helicopter mechanic), I am hesitant to put much stock in his reasoning.

The reasons again women in combat that he brings up are common ones that I’ve seen so far in public debates and news articles.

  1. Women aren’t physically as strong: This is true. Most women are not physically as strong as most men. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some women out there who can’t pass the same physical tests that are required for a combat role.  They should at least be given the chance to apply for the position and be evaluated on the same scales as the men. A 100 lb. man (there are many very skinny Marines!) is still given the opportunity to apply for the position, but a female athlete in amazing physical shape is not. It’s about equal opportunity, not equal representation of men and women in combat roles.
  2. If a man and a woman are on the front lines and a woman gets hurt then the men will be distracted by trying to help her; aka, men’s chivalrous instincts will kick in and they will disregard their training to ‘rescue’ a woman or protect her: I found a quote from a news article I read about this to be appropriate and funny. They were interviewing an officer about this issue and he said something along the lines of “most men don’t even open doors for women anymore, I don’t think it’s an issue”. While I do see the point of this argument, I feel that with the amount of training these units go through, they can work through this ‘rescue instinct’ and incorporate it into their training to follow orders and treat all their team members are equal.
  3. Women don’t have the mental strength for combat: (This argument comes from another military spouse I know, not my husband. I don’t think he would ever say this to my face lol). This I just find patronizing, especially coming from another woman. I am by no means a feminist; I like having doors opened for me and having men clean up their foul language around me. But knowing that there are people out there who think that women are still the “weaker sex” mentally is frustrating to me. But aside from my personal opinion, this is where the screening process and training again comes in to play to determine if a woman can handle the mental strain that comes with being on the front lines. And just as a side note, I’ve met quite a few infantry Marines, they don’t exactly scream “mental stability” to me….
  4. Along the lines of the “rescue instinct”, men will be distracted by having a woman in their unit (sexual attraction and all that): My goodness, with all this irresistible sexual attraction of women it’s amazing any businesses get work done. How are the doctors preforming life saving surgeries working side by side with a female nurses? How are firefighters rescuing people with female firefighters by their side? I think my sarcasm gets the point across, we can all keep it in our pants when were on the job being professionals.

I’m always open for a good (polite) debate if anybody disagrees with me. I don’t think it’s a cut and dry issue, and it will probably take a while before all the potential issues get sorted out.

But as I said before, for me equality is about equal opportunity. Should every woman be allowed to have a combat role? Not at all, but women should still have the equal opportunity to apply for the position and be evaluated based on the requirements for the job just as any man would be.

Love the noun & Love the verb

“Marriage is not a noun; it’s a verb. It isn’t something you get it’s something you do. It’s the way you love your partner every day”

I learned something interesting at work last week.

Love the noun vs. Love the verb

Love the noun is that feeling you get when you look at the person you love. The butterflies, the tightening in your chest, the involuntary smile. Love the noun is the physical feelings of love.

Love the verb is how you show that love; the actions you choose to make. It’s coming home with a present for your partner because you saw something they would like while you were out shopping. It’s respecting their opinion and taking it into consideration when making decisions. It’s giving them the benefit of the doubt and trusting them. It’s sitting through football season when you could care less who wins.

Love the verb are the things you choose to do on a daily basis to show your partner that you love them.

Love the verb is what makes a relationship last in the long run, making the choice to love your partner everyday and to show them that love.

“But maybe that’s what it all comes down to. Love, not as a surge of passion, but as a choice to commit to something, someone, no matter what obstacles or temptations stand in the way. And maybe making that choice, again and again, day in and day out, year after year, says more about love than never having a choice to make at all”

my challenge to fellow military spouses

I decided to write a continuation of my pervious post “at least he isn’t deployed” because I think that I missed an important issue.

Military S/O’s are experts at being away from their partners.

In the 4 years and 8 months that Jeremy and I have been together we have spent 20 months apart.  That’s nearly 2 years of trainings, schools and deployments. 

I have a plethora of first hand experience of what it’s like to miss my partner, and I’m sure most military spouses do as well.

So here is my challenge to my fellow military ladies, how do you chose to use your knowledge and expertise?

By putting down anyone who hasn’t been through as long of a separation as you and degrading their experience? Or by sharing your knowledge and giving advice? By comforting your civilian or military friends who are missing their partner and having a hard time with the distance.  

Just something to think about.

Expectations

One month ago today I turned 24 years old.

photo

Jeremy and I on my 24th birthday

This is the first time in a long while that I’ve had a birthday where I don’t feel my age.

It’s not so much the concret things. I think my current life lines up well with what I want at 24 years old; I’m married, have my own apartment and I’m finishing up graduate school.

But I don’t feel like I’m 24. I guess I just thought I would be more mature and have all the answers. I think of somebody who is 24 as an adult, fully out of the experimental/dramatic/immature early 20’s college phase.

But I don’t have all the answers. I don’t feel like I have life experience.

Maybe that’s because I am still in college. I haven’t really lived in the “real world” yet. I’ve never held down a full time job and I don’t have a career yet.

And even though I’m married, and have been for 4 years, it’s almost a protective factor that keeps me from fully experiencing life. I’ve never had to live alone, pay my own bills, buy a car by myself, etc. I’ve had a partner in my life since I was a teenager. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jeremy for being my partner, but not having to face life alone keeps me sheltered.

Maybe that’s why I still feel so young at 24, so inexperienced.

Although, in other ways, I feel advanced for my age.

Like at work. I’m 24 and I’m a therapist. People come in and pay me money to help them solve their problems in life. Even though it’s just an internship right now, for all intents and purposes, I am working as a professional in a career at a pretty young age. I’m treated with respect and considered as competent as the paid staff.

Maybe it all comes down to expectations. What I expected I would be like, what my life would be like, at 24. Were those expectations realistic? What were they founded on?

So next year, when I turn 25, I’m not going to expect anything from myself. As long as I’m happy, I’ll consider 25 a good age for wherever I am in life.

th

“at least he isn’t deployed”

I wanted to write a post about something I’ve noticed among the Military Significant Other (Milso) community which, from my observations via FB and Instagram, mostly comes from younger military s/o who think their relationship is “better” because they are with somebody in the military. (see my previous post for my opinion on that issue)

The issue of “deserving” to miss your partner.

It tends to have many forms. My favorite example is the girl who sees a FB post of her friend complaining about missing her boyfriend while he is away for the weekend and proceeds to comment “at least he isn’t deployed like mine”.

First of all, thats just openly rude. Second of all, it’s like being mad at somebody for eating a cupcake because you’re on a diet. 

There is no comparison, and the whole “who has it worse” game has no winner. The Army wife can tell all the Marine wives that they don’t deserve to complain because they have 12 month deployments compared to 7 months. Then the Marine wives can all gang up on the Navy wives and their 6 month deployments. And the poor Air Force wives always loose with their 4 month deployments. (FYI – I’m generalizing the lengths of deployments, I know it varies depending on jobs within each branch). And let’s not forget the widows who will always “win”, they will never get to see their spouses again, so how dare everyone else complain about a deployment.

So let’s all stop that argument and agree that being away from the person you love sucks and you will miss them no matter how long of a time they are gone.

So why can’t civilian women miss their men when they are gone?

Just because it’s not 6 + months doesn’t mean they don’t miss them. I think it’s pretty normal, and healthy, to miss your partner when they are gone. I would be more concerned about their relationship if they didn’t miss them.

And finally, for a civilian, a weekend is a long time. For a military s/o, a weekend may seem like nothing, because we are used to more and we expect more. But civilian couples are not used to more, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So, in conclusion: Everyone “deserves” to miss their partner, no matter how long they are gone.

Biology need to catch up to Society

Jeremy and I had lunch with some friends of ours that we haven’t seen since Jeremy left for deployment. They are currently expecting their first baby girl, so of course the conversation turned to pregnancy and when we are going to start trying. (See previous post for our 5-year plan)

I mentioned that I have thought about having a baby within the next few years before Jeremy gets out so we can use the free medical and then our baby would be 2 or so when he gets out and at a better age for daycare/preschool.

Jeremy, of course, acted freaked out about this lol. But later, when we were driving home he asked me if I really wanted to have a baby before he gets out, that we would need to do it right now if that was what I wanted.

I thought about it, but even though I want to be a mom within the next 2-3 years, the idea of trying to get pregnant right now is still scary.

There are so many things that I want to do still.

Which gets me on the topic that biology needs to catch up with society.

I will be 24 when I graduate with my masters. I went straight to a 4-year university after graduating high school and then on to a 2-year masters degree program.

It will take me another 2-3 years of working full-time to get licensed, making me 28 and just starting to establish my career.

Yet the ideal age to have children is 20 – 35, so if you want to have more than one child, you should probably start in your mid-20’s.  Having a baby after 30 is hard; your fertility goes down, chances of miscarriage increase and genetic risks.

But how many women these days are married, done with college and in a stable career by their mid-twenties? How many men are?

“the average childbearing age for women is now 29.3 years of age. In 1968 the average age was 23.” – source

So, I vote that our reproductive system needs to catch up to the evolution of society. Too bad that kind of stuff takes thousands of years lol.

Our 5-year baby plan

Jeremy and I took a road trip to WI over the holidays to spend time with his family and see our friends.

556341_10151207774656819_1208309758_n

We’ve gotten to the age (24), where it seems like all our family and friends have babies! Jeremy has a niece (his first one), his best friend from High School is pregnant, his sister is pregnant, our friends from the Marine Crops have a baby and my cousin has a baby! Pretty much everyone we stayed with and visited with is either pregnant or has a baby lol.

And of course, we get asked by everyone when we are planning on having kids because we have been married for 4 years and are at that age.

Our answer = 5 years

Jeremy wants to wait till he is out of the military, so that’s 3 years. He also wants to go to college when he gets out, so that’s another 2 -3 years. He would like to wait another few years so he can get established at a job, buy a house, etc. But that would be 2 more years which would make the total 7-8 years from now and would make me 31 or 32, and I don’t want to start having kids that late in life for medical reasons.

So we’ve settled on 5 years, when he is done with college and we are both 28.

Jeremy always says he is scared of having kids. He wants them someday, but he is scared of the responsibility and is afraid of messing up.

But after our trip home, when we were on our last day of driving, he said that after spending so much time around babies he is actually kinda excited to have kids. He is so great with them, and he loved playing with my cousins little boy (he really wants a boy lol). Playing with the little boy he felt like it wasn’t actually that scary or hard, that he could do it with his own baby someday.

Hearing that gave me hope, hope that maybe in 5 years when it comes time for us to try he will be ready and as excited as I am. Because I am ready. I want to be a mom within the next few years.

But I also want Jeremy to be ready. I want us to be on the same page, because having a child is a life changing responsibility, and it’s one that I want us to make together when we are both ready and excited for that next phase in our life together.

528517_10151213984126819_1934007612_n

Practicing with our friend’s 6-month old baby girl

 

photo-3

Jeremy playing with his niece. He is going to make such a great Dad someday!

Post-Deployment Reintegration

Now that my husband has been home from deployment for a month I thought I would write a “reintegration” post.

I’ve read a lot of reintegration blog posts and even been to a lecture about it at the return & reunion brief before homecoming. So I will start by saying that everyones experience is going to be different, because every couple is different, every deployment is different and every Soldier/Marine/Sailor/Airman reacts differently to deployment.

But from my extensive experience (lol, 2 deployments), I’ve found that my experience has been a little different then the typical one they prepare you for with awkward readjustments and fights.

When Jeremy comes home it feels like he never left. There is no awkward phase.

The best way I can explain it is like being on summer break then going back to school.

When you’re a kid you have a routine during the school year. You wake up at a certain time, go to the same classes everyday, do homework at night, etc. And you get used to that routine.

Then summer comes along and you change your routine. You have freedom, you start sleeping in and staying up later at night. The first few days you may still wake up at 6:30 am, but eventually you adjust and pretty soon your sleeping in. (aka, deployment lol)

But three months later and school starts again. A new routine. But not a different routine. It’s something that your already used to, and waking up for the first day of school might be a little hard, but when you get there you know exactly what your doing and it feels like a normal part of your life because (when your a kid), it is the normal routine of your life.

And that’s what deployment and reintegration feels like to me.

Jeremy being home is a routine that I know, a routine that is my normal life. It feels natural to fall back into it.

This experience may not be normal for every couples, as I said above. And it certainly doesn’t mean anything negative about your marriage if you don’t have a smooth transition, that’s normal for a lot of people as well.

But that has always been my experience and I wanted to share it in case anybody else feels this way or is worried about what reintegration will be like. It’s not always as scary as they make it seem 🙂