A small factoid on StrategyPage:

the last decade has produced, for the first time, a large number of female combat veterans. There are nearly a quarter million of them, including over 5,000 receiving disability benefits (for injuries received in combat, or non-combat, operations).

Until recently, the “official” story was that woman were not allowed to serve in combat units.This usually translated as no women in combat, but the dirty little secret is that, when nurses arrived in VietNam, they were told that the enemy did not recognize non combat units or red crosses, and they were instructed on how to use weapons in case their hospitals or clinics were over run or attacked.

Similarly, there were nurses at Bataan who were evacuated before the surrender to the Japanese in 1942.So women’s veterans are not new.What is new is that war has changed.In the “olden days”, there was a difference between military and civilians, and a difference between non combat units and combat units.

For all the talk of the “Geneva conventions”, and warnings that if the US did not follow the Geneva conventions, then the enemy would not follow them either, ignores the dirty little secret: that in the wars of the last 70 years, including World War II, America’s enemies did not follow the rules.I really shouldn’t say “America’s enemies” since those who didn’t follow the rules included various liberation armies supported by the left who caused havoc and murder in South America, the Philippines, SouthEast Asia, and Africa, and of course, the governments fighting these “liberators” usually didn’t follow the rules either…. Been there, done that (or rather, I got out before murders of civilians and nurses started).

Civilians also suffer from PTSS.But now, US women are integrated into units in actual war zones, and are receiving little recognition for their service.

One waits for the anti war folks to discover the fact, and start printing “ain’t it awful” articles to promote their one sided agenda, which would remove the last restraint from some very nasty enemies of civilization.Been there, seen that too.

On the other hand, injuries and post traumatic stress syndrome is a major concern in the military and VA medical systems; and as StrategyPage notes, this may take some reorienting for those who work in these systems:

Many VA medical personnel have been treating an exclusively male clientele for so long, that they are at a loss when confronted with female patients. Civilian medical personnel quickly learn to switch gears, but many VA personnel haven’t a clue. This is harder on the female patients than it is on the VA staff.Politicians have discovered the problem, but all they can do is pass more laws.The real solution will have to come from the VA, a huge institution which is slow to change and adapt.

Having worked with a Federal system, I am very aware of the sluggishness of the Federal medical systems to adapt. I hear my old IHS clinic finally got their extra examining rooms and nurse practitioner, plans that I was told were being implemented when I arrived there in 2001.

The VA is even worse, and the delay between application and being hired is so long most of us ended up being hired elsewhere.

However, if they started recruiting from those who worked in the IHS or community health clinics among the poor, you would find those with extensive experience with psychosocial problems, who are more used to integrate psychological and physical treatment in their patients.

And since many of these personnel are under the commissioned corps of the PHS, they could be “ordered” to fill in the gaps.But without some political pressure to insure funding and (more important) implementation of such programs, I am not optimistic that they will be implemented soon.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She writes on medical matters at Hey Doc Xanga Blog.

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