[Marxism] Women at War: Fractured Families

Brian Shannon Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Wed Mar 9 22:41:37 MST 2005

This is the last of 4 articles published by the California Sacramento 
Bee on Women at War.

Like the first installment, the undercurrent is the military need for 
bodies. This installment highlights the problems of a single black 
mother of 6 children.

The first few paragraphs show that as long ago as 1992, then-Defense 
Secretary Dick Cheney and then-Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin 
Powell saw that the country would not stand for a return of the draft 
and that “married ... with children” would have to be a key ingredient 
of the new volunteer army.

FULL AT http://makeashorterlink.com/?N2B3214AA OR

from Brian Shannon

Following the Gulf War, which was the country’s first major post-draft 
military conflict, then-President George H.W. Bush appointed a 
commission to study the issue of deploying parents, especially mothers, 
to war zones. The panel recommended that single parents with 
preschool-age children not be allowed to deploy in times of armed 
conflict, and that in two-soldier families, only one of the parents be 
allowed to go overseas.

The administration successfully opposed those recommendations. In a 
letter to congressional leaders, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and 
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell said that barring single 
parents, or one parent in a military couple, from war zones would 
“weaken our combat capability by removing key personnel.”

“It’s important for us to remember that what we are asked to do here in 
the Department of Defense is to defend the nation,” Cheney said in 
1992. “The only reason we exist is to be prepared to fight and win 

“We’re not a social welfare agency.”

    *   *   *
California National Guard Sgt. Sharon Stallworth, 36, could be in Iraq 
for as long as 18 months.

That’s an eternity to the single mother’s six children who are living 
with their grandparents while Mom is at war.

She took a full-time job with the National Guard 10 years ago when 
there was no expectation that the National Guard would be used for 
other than stateside emergencies.

42.5 percent of all U.S. military personnel, including National Guard 
and Reserve members, have children, and a third of those children are 
age 5 or younger.

Moreover, this is America’s first war where a significant number of 
mothers in uniform have been deployed for prolonged periods. While 
female soldiers are less likely to be married than their male 
counterparts, those who are married are more likely to have children. 
And women in the military are twice as likely as men to be single 

Critics of the practice of using mothers to help wage wars, 
particularly conservative groups normally aligned with the Bush 
administration, argue that it borders on barbarism.
For many women, however, the war in Iraq doesn’t boil down to a simple, 
or simplistic, moral issue. Instead, it’s part of the paradox of 
military life. The military has provided Sharon Stallworth with a 
living wage and a promising career path--both hard to find when you 
have six kids and no college degree.

Those factors make the military particularly attractive to African 
American women like Stallworth. While African American women make up 
about 12.7 percent of the U.S. female population, they represent 34 
percent of the military’s female enlisted personnel.

“I think for many black women, the military represents one of the best 
opportunities to get security for their families,” said Brevet Gen. 
(Ret.) Rosetta Burke, who spent 35 years in the Army Reserve and 
National Guard, and is president of the National Association of Black 
Military Women. “Not only a paycheck, but educational opportunities, 
and medical care ... things that seem out of reach any other way.”

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