Range of new issues facing military women

February 3, 2010 3:02:15 PM PST
The number of women who spent time in the middle of the war zones has ceratinly increased in the last 50 years. There were only 1,000 servicewomen in Korea, and 7,500 in Vietnam. But by the first Gulf War, that number jumped to 41,000. And with the increase in ranks has come an increase in responsiblity. In the 1940, women in the military were known as WACS, or the Women Army Corp. They provided critical support services for the men fighting on the front lines, but were almost always far in the background.

Staff Sergeant Krista Jados is living proof that the role of women in the military has changed, drastically. During a 15-month tour of duty in Iraq with the 411th Engineer Brigade of the Army National Guard, she served as a gunner on a convoy team, constantly on alert through dangerous territory.

Krista, however, has found many people back home who don't believe it.

"I've actually gotten into arguments with people telling me that I couldn't have done what I did over there because I am a female," she said.

The nature of the recent conflicts, with no clear front lines, puts women in the middle of the action. Among their roles are military police officers, pilots, drivers and gunners on convoys.

About 230,000 American women have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. At least 120 have been killed and another 650 wounded. Krista says these days, everyone's a soldier.

"To come back and have to prove that to somebody, that is a little frustrating," she said.

Krista was the only female on her team in Iraq, which she says she never much noticed until it was time to take a restroom break.

"People would get out and it's easy for males to just get out do their thing," she said. "Well, I wasn't really, I couldn't."

And while sexual harassment or worse is one of the leading complaints among female veterans returning home, Jados insists she's developed a thick skin, though she admits it is an issue for some.

"I didn't encounter that so much, but did know people over there that felt that way," she said.