The Cycle | February 05, 2013
>>> the obama presidency is expanding personal liberty for the men and women who fight for our ours repealing don't ask don't tell and ending the ban on women in combat leaving with us a more inclusive military focused on the mission over the man or woman in the uniform. right now, women make up 14% of the active duty forces. our next guest spent five years chronicling the lives of a few and despite advances the women defending our nation are still forced to prove themselves in ways the male counterparts are never asked to. joining us now is tonya bionc author of "undaunted." welcome.
>> thank you so much.
>> so how's life in the military fundamentally different for our service women ?
>> well, i think to succeed as a woman in the military that's how it's different. professional success in the military often comes at a personal price for both men and women . but women face their own set of unique challenges, things that they often deal with privately out of public view and that's something i wanted to examine in the book.
>> tanya , the big news is the pentagon changing the rules and saying it would allow women in combat going forward. i've heard and i have read some who have sort of said the facts on the ground already were sort of there, women were on the front line in a lot of ways. i wonder how much do you think this policy change will affect -- how will it affect women serving right now or just sort of a confirmation of how things already were?
>> lifting the ban was certainly a confirmation of where the military was already headed. but this is quite significant. it's a historic moment because now women will be able to have many more job opportunities. if you look at the general officers rank in the military, 80% of generals come from the combat arms branches which up until now women have been banned from serving in. only 7% of women are general officers at the flag rank even though they make up almost 15% of the force.
>> tanya , one of the unique challenges that you have talked about is the way that women are treated in the military and you said service women tend to be labeled with one of three derogatory categories, dike, slut or a word many of us have been called.
>> true story.
>> there's "the invisible war " that raises the questions of rape and the way that rape and sexual assault handled in the military. is there a cultural problem here that we need to deal with, as well?
>> i don't know that there's a cultural problem. but certainly, derogatory labels need to be dealt with and i think it's really comes down to a leadership issue, leadership has to set the standard and the example and the problem with those derogatory labels that you mentioned is that it affects a women 's ability to be a team member and it affects her ability to lead within a unit.
>> tanya , the death of chris kyle is weighing heavily on all of us and it made me think about a few years ago i was hunting in alaska with some wounded women vets and we talked a lot about ptsd and wondering if you found women go through a different kind of ptsd than men or have unique challenges there.
>> ptsd is one of the main reasons women seek help at the v.a. and half of the women that seek help are under the age of 30 so it's a very young demographic. and a lot of times ptsd in women has to do with military sexual trauma. mst. there's actually an acronym for it at the va and this includes both sexual harassment and sexual assault .
>> all right. tanya , thank you very much.
>> thank you.
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