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Quotes for Actors

Selected Quotes About Recent Female Military Service and PTSD

In Iraq, the front line is everywhere and everywhere in Iraq, women in the U.S. military fight. More than 155,000 of them have served in Iraq since 2003. This is 4 times the number of women sent to Desert Storm in 1991 – and more than 430 have been wounded and over 70 killed. This is almost twice the number of U.S. military women killed in action in Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm combined.

            National Women's History Project

NOTE: … And last year there were 3,191 reports of sexual assault throughout the U.S.military; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said the actual figure is closer to 19,000.

Never before has this country seen so many women paralyzed by the psychological scars of combat. As of June 2008, 19,084 female veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan had received diagnoses of mental disorders from the Department of Veterans Affairs, including 8,454 women with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress — and this number does not include troops still enlisted, or those who have never used the V.A. system.

            Damien Cave, The New York Times, October 31, 2009

Yet while women are undeniably at war, the full extent of their roles and capabilities still isn't formally recognized by the military brass. Today's servicewomen perform many of the roles that official policy says they cannot. Often, their service and suffering remain ignored by or invisible to the Pentagon and the public.

            Molly O’Toole, Huffington Post, May 14, 2012

Once back in the U.S., women experience a more difficult transition than men to family life, psychologists say … They leave combat areas and return directly to their families, without benefit of a cooling-off period at a stateside base.

Once home, in families with children, more is expected of a returning female veteran than a man, experts say.

            Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati Enquirer, May 23, 2009

The transition to civilian life is challenging for mothers. They are susceptible to what psychologist Chard refers to as the 100-50-100-125 rule.

“Women go over (to war) at 100 percent,” she said. “They come home 50 percent, not 100 percent. And their husbands and children want 125 percent of them. The expectation for women is that they should come home to their families and pick up where they left off; (12 or) 15 months developmentally is a lot when you are away from a child.”

Anger is common.

                    Mark Curnutte, Cincinnati Enquirer, May 23, 2009

We’re also focused on the urgent needs of our veterans with PTSD.  We’ve poured tremendous resources into this fight -- thousands of more counselors and more clinicians, more care and more treatment.  And we've made it easier for veterans with PTSD to qualify for VA benefits.  But after a decade of war, it’s now an epidemic.  We’re losing more troops to suicide -- one every single day -- than we are in combat.  According to some estimates, about 18 veterans are taking their lives each day -- more every year than all the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.  That's a tragedy.  It's heartbreaking.  It should not be happening in the United States of America. 

So when I hear about servicemembers and veterans who had the courage to seek help but didn’t get it, who died waiting, that's an outrage.  And I’ve told Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey and Secretary Shinseki we’ve got to do better.  This has to be all hands on deck. 

                        President Barack Obama, Remarks by the President to the 113th National Convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, July 23, 2012

The V.A. certainly doesn’t care,” says Jim Strickland, who runs the V.A. Watchdog Web site. “The very institution that should be at the forefront of caring for vets is dead last.” The Web site declares: “This country is capable of drafting you, putting you in boot camp, teaching you to kill someone, and then putting you in a war zone within six months. So why can’t they process a claim that fast?”

The same military that lavishes attention on its drones and aircraft carriers seems to take its people for granted. Stryker vehicles are refurbished, but not the men who operate them. The military health insurance won’t cover some of the treatments that doctors recommended for [Richards.]

All this is unforgivable, but it’s also shortsighted. The military’s most valuable assets aren’t its Strykers or tanks, but the highly trained troops inside them. When a soldier is harmed by repeat concussions, hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in training are squandered. And shoddy treatment of returning soldiers will undermine recruitment and retention in the future.

                                    Nicholas D. Kristoff, The New York Times, August 10, 2012

Despite the fact that women are generally limited to combat-support roles in the war, they are arguably witnessing a historic amount of violence. With its baffling sand swirl of roadside bombs and blind ambushes, its civilians who look like insurgents and insurgents who look like civilians, the Iraq war has virtually eliminated the distinction between combat units and support units in the military. ''Frankly one of the most dangerous things you can do in Iraq is drive a truck, and that's considered a combat-support role,'' says Matthew Friedman, executive director of the National Center for PTSD, a research-and-education program financed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. ''You've got women that are in harm's way right up there with the men.''

There have been few large-scale studies done on the particular psychiatric effects of combat on female soldiers in the United States, mostly because the sample size has heretofore been small. More than one-quarter of female veterans of Vietnam developed PTSD at some point in their lives, according to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Survey conducted in the mid-'80s, which included 432 women, most of whom were nurses. (The PTSD rate for women was 4 percent below that of the men.) Two years after deployment to the gulf war, where combat exposure was relatively low, Army data showed that 16 percent of a sample of female soldiers studied met diagnostic criteria for PTSD, as opposed to 8 percent of their male counterparts. The data reflect a larger finding, supported by other research, that women are more likely to be given diagnoses of PTSD, in some cases at twice the rate of men.

                                                            Sara Corbett, The New York Times, March 18, 2007