DAV Magazine March/April 2018 : Page 19

for motherhood,” said Arrighi. “Men were to be ‘good’ providers and women were to devote themselves to hearth and home. Thus, the divergent societal expectations for women and men became institutionalized. Vestiges of it are still evident, even though rigid gender roles are less feasible in today’s economic environment.” Today, there are more than 2 million women veterans and just over 214,000 active-duty females, and their roles have been skewing closer to combat for decades. Of the 58,318 names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, eight belong to women—including Annie Ruth Graham, whose wartime service spanned World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In contrast, 167 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and more than a thousand have been wounded in action. And their needs are evolving along with their new functions. Arrighi echoed the sentiment that DAV has argued for years: Female veterans face different hurdles because both the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs largely remain male-centric models. “The military is a family, but women in the military too often continue to be the ‘stepchildren,’” she said. “A report from the DAV noted that one-third of [VA] medical centers do not have a gynecologist on staff.” DAV’s 2014 report Women Veterans: The Long Journey Home found women experience deployment Naomi Mathis was part of a security team for a convoy of more than 50 vehicles May 13, 2003, in Iraq. The adult man in the photo ran to the convoy and yelled, “Bush good! Saddam bad!” After realizing he wasn’t a threat, Mathis and others gave the man and child some water and posed for this photo. Shortly after this photo was taken, the convoy was attacked and one of her fellow airmen was killed. and reintegration differently from their male counterparts because of their preconceived role in the military and American society. According to the study, women tend to focus more than men on how deployments disrupt interpersonal relationships and feel less social support when returning home. “In many cases, women are saddled with a different set of expectations than men—a heavier mix of breadwinner, homemaker and child-raiser,” said National Commander Delphine Meltcalf-Foster, daughter of a Buffalo Soldier and DAV’s first female national commander. “And they’re often expected to transition seamlessly between these roles without missing a step, which can be especially difficult for someone who is also trying to manage the stress of a deployment or leaving the military.” Naomi Mathis, of DAV Chapter 5 in Gulfport, Miss., knows this challenge all too well. After her overseas deployment, she struggled to reconnect with her children. “All of a sudden, you look up and there are these kids that have been asked to sacrifice birthdays and all other things that civilian moms would normally be present for, and now you have them full time,” Mathis said. “Only their sacrifice doesn’t really end. They don’t have a whole mom—they have a mom that’s still dealing with a part of her identity missing. You have to learn to be a mom without the military.” After connecting with DAV, Mathis learned about her earned benefits and began to get treatment for things that occurred as a result of military service. She wanted to give back to veterans experiencing their own transition challenges, so she became a DAV transition service officer. Now, she says her bonds with her children are stronger than ever. “Coming home, I had both physical and mental disabilities, and trying to get my children to understand why I don’t do what ‘normal’ moms do, even though I am no longer in the military, was difficult,” Mathis said. “Now that my little kids are older, and if you ask them about it, they admit it was not easy but that they appreciate everything veterans go through.” Rachel Fredericks, commander of DAV Chapter 38 in Troy, N.Y., said women veterans are so much more after their service than “just a housewife, or just an aunt or just a volunteer.” “All veterans have difficulty transitioning; however, I feel with the expectations a woman has in a civilian home, it can feel more consuming than fighting for @DAVHQ | @DAVHQ 19 DAV.ORG | FACEBOOK.COM/DAV |

Previous Page  Next Page

Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here