Martin C. Evans

Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Deployments boost emotional disorder likelihood among military wives.

In Women on January 21, 2010 at 4:09 pm

Deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan boost the likelihood of emotional disorders among wives who are left behind, according to a study in the Jan. 14 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The wives of deployed soldiers report higher rates of depression, sleeplessness, stress and adjustment disorders, according to researchers with the epidemiology department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Longer deployments resulted in a greater likelihood of mental disorders.

The findings bolster observations made by therapists at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s Rosen Family Wellness Center, who say worry over the safety of their spouse, loneliness and the added pressure of caring for children and maintaining a household on their own exacts a big emotional toll from military spouses.

The findings could be particularly significant to families associated with Long Island-based National Guard and Reserve units that have served combat tours, such as the 2/25th Marine the 800th Military Police Brigade, and companies of the 69th Infantry Regiment.

That is because Guard and Reserve units generally lack access to the kind of large military bases where there is an abundance of support services and social networks available to help military spouses cope – supports that are more available to families living on big military bases such as Ft. Drum, N.Y. or Ft. Hood, Texas.

In reaching their conclusions, researchers studied the outpatient medical records of 250,626 wives of Army soldiers who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The women had received care between 2003 and 2006.

Wives whose husbands were deployment for more than 11 months were nearly 40 percent more likely to report excess depression, about a quarter more likely to report sleeplessness and almost 20 percent more likely to show extreme anxiety.

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“Pregnant? Drop and gimmie twenty!”

In Women on December 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III says soldiers who become pregnant or get another soldier pregnant harm unit cohesion

“Soldier, you will not become pregnant! IS THAT CLEAR!”

In so many words, that was a direct order issued last month to his troops by Major Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III, who commands soldiers in northern Iraq.

Cucolo, reviving questions over what role women should play in the U.S. military, ordered that female soldiers who became pregnant, and male soldiers who helped get them there, could be subject court martial and jail time.

But Cucolo’s directive was overturned this week by Gen. Raymond Odierno, the top commander in Iraq, after Cucolo’s directive drew sharp criticism from female advocates. Odierno  drafted new policy that will go into effect Jan. 1, which made no mention of pregnancy.

Cucolo, who commands the Multinational Division North, in Iraq, had said the prohibition against pregnancy was essential to protect combat units from losing soldiers during deployments. Because Defense Department rules prevent pregnant soldiers from serving in a combat theater, women known to be pregnant while in Iraq or Afghanistan are required to leave their combat unit and redeploy to their home duty station.

Under Cucolo’s directive, which was first reported by Stars and Stripes, even married couples could have faced discipline for conceiving a child.

“I believe there should be professional consequences for making a choice like that,” Cucolo said before his order was overturned, according to the Armed Forces Press Service.

His directive exposes a longstanding tension over what role if any women should have in the military. While some say women play an invaluable role in today’s modern military, others say maintaining discipline and operational readiness in a poly-gender military is problematic.

But Cucolo’s order last month incurred the wrath of several women’s groups, including the National Organization of Women. Four women in the U.S. Senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, wrote to the general asking him to rescind the order.

“We can think of no greater deterrent to women contemplating a military career than the image of a pregnant woman being severely punished simply for conceiving a child,” the senators wrote.

Women vets don’t get same welcome home

In Uncategorized, Women on December 15, 2009 at 12:16 am

Female GIs at Baghram Airbase, near the deadly Pakistan border. All of them are carrying rifles.

Women soldiers who return from combat aren’t treated with the same honor and respect as men are, even though women  serve as turret gunners, convoy drivers and other shot-at positions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That has left many women returning from war zones feeling rejected and depressed once their battlefield service is up, according to an Associated Press article.

“People didn’t come up to us and thank us for our service in the same way,” Sgt. Kayla Williams, 34,  told the Associated Press.  “They didn’t give us free beers in bars in the same way when we first got back.”

Joanne Lombardi, of Miller Place, a volunteer who helps wounded veterans, said women soldiers are often overlooked because combat traditionally has been associated with men.

“I’ve made the same mistake myself,” Lombardi said. “You see a woman in a restaurant with a group of soldiers and assume she is a wife or a girlfriend — not a soldier herself.”

Some female veterans say even male colleagues with whom they built strong soldier-to-soldier relationships while deployed shun them once they come home, often because spouses or girlfriends are suspicious of their professional closeness.

Isolation from colleagues  leaves war veterans more vulnerable to post traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxieties, say psychological social workers at the Rosen Family Wellness Center, a treatment center for returning soldiers.  Lack of recognition also denies female veterans the social networks men enjoy, making it harder for them to find jobs and transition back to civilian life.

Many female vets have said they have come to doubt the value of their own service, and have not sought veterans services as frequently as men.

“What worries me is that women themselves still don’t see themselves as veterans, so they don’t get the care they need for post-traumatic stress syndrome or traumatic brain injury or even sexual assault, which obviously is more unique to women,” said Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs committee. “So we still have a long way to go.”

More than 185,000 women have been deployed since the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, according to a Dec. 5 resolution in Congress honoring women in the military. In all, 350,000 women currently are serving in the military.