Sunday, March 20, 2005

Women in Combat, More Prone to PTSD

If you read any ancient history, you know that centuries ago it was commonplace for women to fight side by side with men on the battlefield. This is not the stuff of mythology. It is fact.

Today, in Iraq women are on the front lines again fighting side by side with their male counterparts.

On a mission just south of Baghdad over the winter, a young soldier jumped into the gunner's turret of an armored Humvee and took control of the menacing .50-caliber machine gun. She was 19 years old, weighed barely 100 pounds and had a blond ponytail hanging out from under her Kevlar helmet.

"This is what is different about this war," Lt. Col. Richard Rael, commander of the 515th Corps Support Battalion, said of the scene at the time. "Women are fighting it. Women under my command have confirmed kills. These little wisps of things are stronger than anyone could ever imagine and taking on more than most Americans could ever know."

However, now we are starting see the effects women fighting on the front lines and studies are indicating that more women are suffering from more debilitating forms of PTSD. According to Paula Schnurr, a lead researcher for a 6 million dollar study on the effects of PTSD in women, “data indicate that female military personnel are far more likely than their male counterparts to have been exposed to some kind of trauma or multiple traumas before joining the military or being deployed in combat. That may include physical assault, sexual abuse or rape.”

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