News / USA

Women Soldiers Pay Price on Front Lines

Women Soldiers Pay Price on Front Linesi
X
March 20, 2013 3:13 PM
The Pentagon's recent decision to eliminate rules that exclude women from direct combat roles was merely symbolic for many women soldiers - who have already been in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Luis Ramirez visited the U.S. Army’s Seventh Sustainment Brigade at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and filed this report.

Women Soldiers Pay Price on Front Lines

Luis Ramirez
The Pentagon's recent decision to eliminate rules that exclude women from direct combat roles was merely symbolic for many women  soldiers - who have already been in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

When it comes to fighting on the front lines, Army Staff Sergeant Cassandra Partee has been there and done that.  Her first deployment was to Iraq as part of an artillery unit eight years ago.

"We would go out on patrols and just conduct raids and things of that nature," she said. 

On her second deployment to Iraq, she was wounded in action.

"I [in] one incident was hit by improvised explosive device that was attached to a guard rail," she explained.  

Partee suffered shrapnel wounds to her face and back. 

Since her last deployment, she has survived cancer and given birth to two babies.

In her current job with the Army’s Seventh Sustainment Brigade, she helps train other soldiers. She reflects on her experience in Iraq. 

"There wasn’t anything discriminatory as far as what females could do over there," she said. "When it came time to be a gunner and be on the gun, females took the guns." 

So it was no surprise to her when, in one of his final decisions as Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta announced the lifting of rules excluding women from some combat roles.

"They serve. They’re wounded and they die right next to each other. The time has come to recognize that reality," he said.

"These are the roles that we’ve played in the war.  We’ve been there all along," said Staff Sergeant Partee. "They didn’t look at me and say, you’re a female you can’t do this.  It was 'hey, we need a soldier. You need to get up there and do this.'" 

Some women soldiers say they hear comments from male counterparts who don't believe women should be in certain combat units - though few express those sentiments openly.

One of Partee’s male counterparts, Sergeant Shawn Yearby - also an Iraq veteran - says he was surprised by Panetta's announcement.

"What first went through my mind, was uh-oh, you know, females are going into combat arms.  But then I thought about it and I said, it all depends. It all depends on if they can handle it, they can handle it," he said. 

Sergeant Partee has been able to balance life in the military with the other job in her life that she says is her highest calling.

"I will always be a mother first, but [by] the same token, I have the soldier in me.  The scale is even," she said. 

Even with the opening of more combat roles, few expect a big rise in the number of women in those roles.  The military is planning no change in its physical requirements or training standards. 

But for soldiers like Partee, the recognition that she can do the job goes a long way.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid