American Women at War
Sergeant Michelle Brookfield Wilmot on guard duty in Ramadi, Iraq in April 2005. Photograph by Spc. Miranda Mattingly.

Sergeant Michelle Brookfield Wilmot on guard duty in Ramadi, Iraq in April 2005. (Photo by Spc. Miranda Mattingly.)

In the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, American women in uniform are everywhere and almost anywhere. In conflicts without clear front-lines, where old distinctions of combat and non-combat troops are hard — impossible — to uphold.

In the air over Tal Afar, in a Kiowa scout helicopter, chasing insurgents down alleyways from the sky with a .50 caliber machine gun and rockets at the ready.

On the ground, gun in hand, guarding convoys, raiding homes, saving soldiers with a medic’s pack, rumbling through the roadside bombs.

And they’re bringing what they see back home, as veterans, with more bloody, in-the-thick-of-it memories than female American vets have ever known.

This hour, On Point: On Veterans Day, American women at war.

You can join the conversation. Female veterans, tell us about your experiences at war. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. Tell us about going, fighting, surviving. Tell us about coming home.


From Baghdad, we’re joined by Tina Susman, the Baghdad bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. She’s recently been embedded with U.S. troops.

Joining us from Washington is Ann Scott Tyson, Pentagon and military correspondent for The Washington Post.

From Amherst, Mass., we’re joined by Sergeant Rachel McNeill, Army Reserve. She served in Iraq from December 2004 to December 2005, starting out as a heavy construction equipment operator and shifting to security for convoys out of Ramadi. She’s 24 years old, grew up in Wisconsin, and joined the Army Reserve her senior year of high school, after 9/11, when she was 17.

Also from Amherst, we’re joined by Kirsten Holmstedt, author of “Band of Sisters: American Women at War in Iraq” (2007). She’s at work on a new book about women returning home from war.

And joining us from New York is Meg McLagan, a documentary filmmaker and cultural anthropologist. She’s co-director and co-producer of the new documentary “Lioness,” which documents female soldiers of the Iraq War who took part in the Lioness program, in which women accompanied male teams on raids and house searches. The film will air nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens this Thursday, Nov. 13.

More links:

You can watch the Independent Lens “Lioness” trailer on YouTube, here:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 26, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

Nov 26, 2015
Jewel performs in the On Point Studio on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. (Liz Gillis / WBUR)

Singer-songwriter Jewel asked “who will save your soul”? Now she’s talking about saving her own. We’ll talk to Jewel.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
1 Comment
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »