Women are without doubt an integral part of the military services. It took the determination of women throughout history to pave the way for the 400,000, women that serve today. From the early years of the military to the present conflict in Afghanistan, women have made continuous progress towards equality. It is through their contributions that the military has evolved, consistently opening more jobs to women in combat. Time has proven that war does not discriminate; a successful military uses the strengths of all members despite their gender. The Evolution of Women in the Military
Women in Military History
Although not officially enlisted into the services, women have been a part of the military dating back to the American Revolutionary War. Throughout history, they have challenged the norms of society and pursued their dedication to the Nation, fighting for our freedom. Women in the military have fought through challenges and obstacles in both fighting for equality and establishing their roles in combat. It is clear that the military services would not be what they are today without their contributions and sacrifices. The Early Years
From the American Revolutionary War through the Civil War women contributed to the war in both conventional and unconventional ways. In serving as what we would call today Combat Service Support, they took care of the wounded, brought water to troops, provided laundry services, and served as cooks. Many women directly supported the cause by disguising themselves as men in order to fight in the war. Two such documented cases were Deborah Sampson during the American Revolutionary War and Elizabeth Newcom during the Mexican War. Sampson served in the Continental Forces for over a year, she only earned half of the pension the men received during that time. Newcom enlisted in the Missouri volunteer Infantry and marched for over 600 miles. Once discovered, the military discharged her with no benefits. There were also several women who fought alongside their husbands with no pay or benefits. If their husbands received wounds during the conflict, they did not hesitate for a second to step in and continue the fight. One of the most well-known women of the Civil War was Dr. Mary Walker. She was unable to find a paying job in the military simply because she was a woman, She volunteered on the front lines, saving thousands of lives. Although the military did not call these women “Soldiers,” at that time, I would argue that their actions and contributions whether directly in the fight or support were that of Soldiers. From the Spanish American War in 1898 to 1908 women continued to progress. With the number of casualties from the war overwhelming the medical system, the military services were in dire need of help. They had no choice but to allow women into the services, but continued to restrict them as contract workers only. By the war’s end, the Army hired over 1,500 nurse contractors that served at hospitals throughout the world. The performance of the contract nurses was not without notice; this prompted Dr McGee to write legislation creating a permanent corps of nurses. This was a major turning point for women in the military, which resulted in the first woman appointed as the Acting Assistant Surgeon General, Dr. Anita Newcomb McGee. It was evident that the Army could not meet the demands of the war without the use of women resulting in the establishment of the Army Nurses Corp in 1901 and the Navy Nurse Corp in 1908 ("Highlights in History," n.d.). The period of World War I and World War II brought significant advancements for women in the military although it would prove that women were expendable. After the passing of the Selective Service Act and the draft initiated, there were over 4.8 million men served fighting in the war. This had a significant impact on the women of the nation not only were they needed to fill the...