Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Annual Training.

I've been at my unit for the past two weeks (I'm sitting here now blogging...I'm really surprised I can get on my blog via a military computer. I wasn't able to get access a few months ago), and working on getting things together for the documentary. Right now I'm searching for studies/articles regarding women in combat, women in military, women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, sexual harassment and trauma, etc. I've come across a few studies and tons of articles. Figured I'd post a few of them...

* An article titled "Body Mass Index and Disordered Eating Behaviors Are Associated with Weight Dissatisfaction in Adolescent and Young Adult Female Military Recruits", appeared in Military Medicine; Feb2008, Vol. 173 Issue 2, p138-145, 8p.

Highlights: So the objective is..."To examine factors associated with weight dissatisfaction, a risk factor for eating disorders, among female Marine recruits. Methods: A diverse adolescent/young adult sample of 2,157 female recruits completed a questionnaire upon entering Marine Corps training. Weight dissatisfaction was the main variable of interest. Results: Body mass index (BMI), disordered eating history, and worry about meeting military "weight" were related highly to weight dissatisfaction. Women with BMIs near the upper limit of the Marine Corps weight standard (23.5 kg/m²) reported the highest rates of weight dissatisfaction. Those who reported vomiting, binging or pill use, or being worried about "making weight" were four and five times, respectively, more likely to report weight dissatisfaction. Conclusions: New female Marine recruits with higher BMIs, disordered eating histories, and worries about "making weight" are significantly more likely to be weight dissatisfied. Such findings may identify those at risk for developing eating disorders when exposed to strict military weight standards.

"Military weight standards have come under increasing scrutiny
as the general population in the United States becomes more overweight. A recent study showed that 43% of 17- to 20-year-old adolescent and young women in the general
population were over the maximum allowable weight to join the military."

I have the opposite problem. When I joined I was a healthy 17 year old...I'm 5'2" and at the time of joining weighed about 117lb. However, once I got into basic training my weight jumped. I got to probably around 130lb. Did I eat a lot? Not more then the other Soldiers...maybe I did like breakfast a little too much but I just packed on muscle. When I got home my weight dropped back down. Fast forward a few years later...deployed to Iraq and what do you know? Got back up around 130-132lb. And I didn't even eat breakfast! I lived on cheese sandwiches (not a lot of vegetarian options) and whatever else I could come up with. My arm muscles were big...my ass got huge...total nightmare. I remember I got his letter/rap song from some male Soldier who saw me "around base". He talked about my thighs and my ass in the letter (the letter was about four pages long and hand delivered to me on a Sunday morning). I was blown away. It was embarrassing...I was like; does he realize I'm a white girl? White girls don't necessarily embrace their thickness. Asshole. My roommate thought it was hilariously and then we decided we should remove our names from our door, so no one else could stroll up and express their unwanted feelings towards us. Anyways, came back home and my weight dropped quickly...112lb. I pass the Army weight standards.


* A commentary that appeared in Off Our Backs by Krista Donaldson titled, "Is It Time For G.I. Jane?"

Alright so now we have a "warrior, the peace activist, the mother, the team-playing American, the safely middle-class white girl, the justice fighter" feminist who really likes the movie G.I. Jane. But she just can't figure out what to make of women in combat. Donaldson is excited..."the thought of women charging into special operations and combat alongside males sounds like the equality we have been fighting for. With the United States warring in Iraq and Bush at the helm, the armed services are ripe for feminist progression. The question arises-is representation in war the kind of equality we want?" I guess it is safe to say I assumed feminist would support females in the military...be the ones to embrace our accomplishments stateside as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan. I would like to remind Donaldson and other feminist...you don't necessarily get to hand pick the type of progress you desire...right now, progress is being made…glass ceilings are being shattered…but it is taking place in a war zone and it is being handed to you whether you like it or not. However, I do realize feminist have the power to decide "how far" they really want to take this. I guess one has to dissect the situation females are in. Throw war aside for a minute...pull out the female Soldiers, look at what they're accomplishing and overcoming and then decide if it worthy enough for feminist support.
Then Donaldson says this… “What’s wrong with a draft?...The Iraq war is being fought by poor people, those living in rural places, and people whom, for whatever reason, the option of joining the military sounded good.”
For the record, I fully support a draft. Say what you want. If it gets people motivated to do something, to throw up their arms and say enough is enough…I think that is what we might need. Put a little fear in people…shake things up…feel uncomfortable.
However, I do not support what Donaldson said… fought by poor people? Living in rural places? Give me a break. This myth has been debunked by studies and the statement as a whole is completely ignorant.
Donaldson ends her commentary by stating… “If the world had more women in decision-making positions, international conflicts would be different. Until then, I am left asking a lot of questions, writing a lot of letters and cheering for G.I. Jane.”
Does “G.I. Jane” really want someone like this cheering for her? (I hope she doesn’t think all women in the military look like G.I. Jane, she might be disappointed to find out some of us have long hair, love handles, didn’t grow up on a farm, have some extra cash, and joined the military because we wanted to better ourselves and do something for our country.)

Next...(last one I promise)

*I found a study that appeared in the Journal of Women’s Health titled, “The Mental Health of U.S. Military Women in Combat Support Occupations.”

Brief rundown of the study:

“The proportion of women in the U.S. military is increasing, and they are being selected into jobs that are more combat related. However, the mental health effects of working in combat support occupations among military women have not been previously evaluated.”

The study followed active-duty enlisted Navy and Marine Corps women in combat and noncombat support positions for two years between January 1994 and August 2001. RESULTS? Women in combat support occupations were found to be significantly less likely to be hospitalized for a mental disorder than women in all other military occupations. Also older women were slightly more likely to have a mental health hospitalization compared with women in the youngest age category (19 years and younger). Interesting. During the 18-month period, 1.3% of women in combat support occupations were hospitalized for a mental health disorder, compared with 2.2% of women in noncombat support occupations. Some studies have indicated that women working in nontraditional, male-dominated occupations have “more effective coping methods and experience less strain” compared with women in traditional occupations. What does this study suggest? Women working in combat support occupations, in comparison with women in other military occupations, were not at a higher risk for mental health problems. Explanation? Women know what they are getting themselves into…for the most part. If a woman volunteers or is selected to enter a combat support occupation she is generally more mentally prepared for her task and physically fit.

It is about time I came across a study like this. There needs to be more!


Blogger Jen said...

Shameless self promotion:


7/30/2008 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger olgreydog7 said...

Nice findings. The first one, I don't care what gender someone is, there are too many fatties in uniform. Coming from an all male service, I can tell you that it does affect training and effectiveness. Maybe some cushy desk job only MOS/Rate or whatever could get away with it, but most can't. Sorry if it makes someone feel sad if they are fat. The second one, I'm not really sure where she was going with that. I like your conclusions though. The last one, I think you are right as well. Don't hate me cause I'm from an all male service, but alot of the non-combat women I have seen are clueless. They think that the military is some kinda fun game where they get to play dress up or something. It's no wonder to me that the mental case rate would be higher. Before the flames get too high, I have seen some great ones and I have seen some guys that were the same way. Like you said, a woman that volunteers, and they have to, for a more combat related role most likely has a more level head and is more mentally prepared form the get go.

I think there could be room in your movie for some kind of analysis of studies on women in the military.

8/08/2008 12:03:00 PM  

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