Rambo’s Days Are Over, GI Jane May Have to Wait Years

The ban on women in combat was lifted Jan. 23, 2013. Though 99 percent of the careers offered in the Air Force are open to women, the decision will open more than 230,000 jobs across all branches of the military. 2013 marks the 20th year that the Department of Defense allowed women to serve as combat pilots. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony/Released)

The ban on women in combat was lifted Jan. 23, 2013. Though 99 percent of the careers offered in the Air Force are open to women, the decision will open more than 230,000 jobs across all branches of the military. 2013 marks the 20th year that the Department of Defense allowed women to serve as combat pilots. (U.S. Air Force illustration/Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony/Released)

The days of Rambo are over (a quote from a special ops officer), but it could be years before GI Jane appears in some combat roles.

That’s a broad summary of plans to integrate women into previously closed combat positions. The plans were reviewed and released by the Department of Defense earlier this week.

Among the services, the Marines have the fewest women, only 6 percent, and therefore are taking a “slow and deliberate” pace to assess what combat positions should be opened to women according to NPR reporter Larry Abramson.

Abramson’s story examines how quickly the various branches are moving but the overall process is expected to take years.

Some women are worried that arbitrary barriers such as social concerns will pop up because there is resistance from small, elite teams reports Abramson.

But the special operations officer said that “combat isn’t about strength any longer.” Special Operations and other military are looking for smart qualified operators who can learn and speak foreign languages and understand culture. You can listen to the NPR story HERE.

The Stars and Stripes reports that as early as the end of this year the Navy may open up jobs to women in its Riverine Force’s small craft.

In the near future, the plans call primarily for study of institutional and cultural factors of putting women into units closed to them under the 1994 combat exclusion policy, which former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted in January.

In addition, a key step will be the establishment of gender-neutral physical and mental standards for each position, including infantry, artillery, armor and special operations forces.

The Army, which has hundreds of thousands of jobs in combat units closed to women, said in its plan that it would present gender-neutral standards to qualify for those positions during 2015.

 

Advertisements

Air Force Trains Advocates for Sexual Assault Victims

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

The Air Force has taken a page out of the civilian court handbook by creating advocates for victims of military sexual trauma (MST).

The hope is by providing an advocate – Special Victims’ Counsels (SVC) – victims will be more willing to report assaults and testify in military court according to NPR’s Larry Abramson.

“We know 85 percent of our victims don’t report,” Lt. Gen. Richard Harding says. “Maybe if they understood the value of an SVC, some of them might feel a little bit more comfortable about reporting.”

That’s the long-term hope for the Special Victims’ Counsel program, which is currently limited to the Air Force but could expand to other services. The immediate goal is to train around 50 lawyers who will help victims get through the legal process.

You can listen to the full NPR story here.

The Department of Defense has a three-part Safe Helpline campaign to help any military member who has been the victim of military sexual assault. Continue reading

Student Veterans’ Graduation Rates Yet to Be Tracked

Maralynn Bernstein (bottom left), the veterans services coordinator for the University of Arizona, confers with Cody Nicholls, director of the Veterans Education and Transition Services Center, at the school's Veterans Center in Tucson. Photo credit: Larry Abramson/NPR

Maralynn Bernstein (bottom left), the veterans services coordinator for the University of Arizona, confers with Cody Nicholls, director of the Veterans Education and Transition Services Center, at the school’s Veterans Center in Tucson. Photo credit: Larry Abramson/NPR

Record numbers of veterans are returning home from war and heading to college thanks to the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which in three short years has helped 860,000 vets go to school reports Larry Abramson of National Public Radio.

But there’s little known about how these students are doing because are no national statistics on veterans’ graduation rates.Having no national data base left the door open for inaccurate information such as a recent press report that said only 3 percent of vets were getting degrees.

Veterans’ advocates quickly debunked that number, but it just pointed to a need for data.Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America, is working to develop a database to show what nearly 1 million new vets are doing with the $24 billion and counting that they’ve received.

The Department of Veterans Affairs also is beginning to collect and track student data.

You can listen to Larry Abramson’s story and read more about various student veterans college programs HERE.

%d bloggers like this: