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