Female Soldiers Deployed With 82nd Airborne In Kuwait Few, But Mighty
Posted March 19, 2003 6:08 a.m. EST
KUWAITI DESERT — In the last decade, the number of women serving in the military has grown. Right now, there are close to 200,000 women in the armed forces. Where do women stand in the military and how do they fit into this deployment?
There are close to 4,000 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne in Kuwait. Only 100 are women.
Sgt. Jillana Malichi is a take-charge kind of soldier. The 15-year Army veteran commands attention. She said getting to this point has not been easy.
"It's more of a man's Army. You definitely have to establish yourself as a woman to get to the same level," Malichi said.
Female soldiers can be found doing just about anything -- from rigging heavy equipment to performing truck maintenance. One place they will not be is on the front line.
"I think for society, is it ready to see the moms out there getting shot? I don't think we're ready for that," she said.
Women are are inching closer to the front line, and the Army has had some adjusting to do during this deployment.
"At the PX, there's no feminine hygiene products. That's frustrating," said one soldier.
There will always be some basic differences between male and female soldiers.
"I think they expect if you're in the military, you've put aside and accepted 'yes, I need to work through stomach cramps,' because they don't have time for me to say 'I can't do this mission because I'm hurting right now,'" said --.
Many women still feel the pressure to perform. In a recent training jump, Sgt. Lovella Bell landed on a rock.
"I laid down for about five minutes thinking 'I'm just going to stay here.' Then, I thought, 'No. There are all these guys here, I'm the only female and they're going to talk,'" she said.
These women hope one day the only talk will be of how far they have come, not how far they have to go.