Monday, June 23, 2008

Too Little, Too Late

Monday was a historic day for the US military with the nomination of Lieutenant General Ann Dunwoody to the rank of four-star general in the US Army. The appointment, which still needs approval from the Senate, makes Dunwoody the first woman to be selected for the military's highest rank.

Sadly, the timing couldn't be more ironic as the nomination comes on the heels of a New York Times article, which yet again calls into question the military's views on and treatment of women as the paper of record revealed a disproportionate number of women have been forced out of the military due to "don't ask, don't tell."

"While women make up 14 percent of Army personnel, 46 percent of those discharged under the policy last year were women. And while 20 percent of Air Force personnel are women, 49 percent of its discharges under the policy last year were women," writes Thom Shanker.

No reasoning was given for the disproportionate percentages. But, just as distressing as the military's removal of able personnel due to sexual orientation is the fact that, as Megan Carpentier of Jezebel states, "In the meantime, the military has doubled the number of waivers it granted to recruits convicted of violent felonies (including rape)."

So, while Dunwoody's nomination is momentous and will only serve to heighten awareness women's contributions to the military as she makes her way through the approval process, the lack of coverage - by comparison - of the New York Times report shows this is no silver bullet. That respect for the issues military women face still has a great distance to go.

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