[Marxism] Women at War: Fractured Families
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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