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

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid