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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs