By: Rep. Linda Dean Campbell – Nov. 2015
Over this past summer, we saw two women graduate from the Army’s Ranger School, our military’s premier course for both leadership and light infantry combat. While there has been a long ongoing debate upon whether American women should fill military occupations associated with close combat, we are now at a point where remaining restrictions will only be based upon an individual’s ability to perform a specific job.
My husband always very much objected to the above argument being framed as about “women in combat” because we have actually had women in combat for a very long time.
During the Gulf War in which he served, a female officer my husband knew quite well was abruptly killed in a road accident. The Army also lost two conventional Blackhawk helicopters, which attempted to conduct ad hoc rescues of downed pilots behind enemy lines; one was blasted directly out of the sky with the entire crew, including a teenaged female medic. The other Blackhawk shot down, crashed with two survivors, which included a female flight surgeon who was injured, shot, and then molested after her capture by the Iraqis. There was one other female soldier, a truck driver, who was wounded, captured and also molested by the Iraqis. A further six female soldiers were killed-in-action and many others wounded by the Scud which landed upon a unit’s billets on the last day of the Gulf War. And, several other female soldiers were killed or maimed in the many other accidents of the Gulf War.
Finally in our long war on terror, we have had over 150 women service members killed in the conflict, at least seven times that many have been either severely injured or wounded while at war, with many of those impacted suffering life-altering injuries which include traumatic amputation.
So this Veterans Day, let us remember all who have served, especially those of us who have been at war. Let us also remember our women have been in combat as far back as World War II.