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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 01:24 PM   #21
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by Maximillion
...My Wife is an Air Force Bat, she totally agrees with you, she said the worst part was making friends then getting transferred.
I have to. Life as a bat really is tough these days. Especially a Canadian bat.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 01:52 PM   #22
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 02:17 PM   #23
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by Sam
My daughter has been accepted to the US Naval Academy.* She has also been accepted to 2 other reputable universities with sufficient scholarships so that money is not a major issue.
Well the first step should be: *congratulations! *It's wonderful to have that many choices. *It's also quite a testament to being the parent of a teenager who must have despaired many times that she'd never get you guys straightened out...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
My daughter loves the Academy, and so do I, for many reasons. *Leadership, academic challenge, moral and physical quality. *But I find myself awake at night wondering what would life be for her as an officer.
Spouse and I talk about this all the time. *Life for women in the armed forces is about the same as it is for WASPs, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, Catholics, Jews, Moonies, gays, lesbians, most Democrats, and even Marines aboard naval vessels. *

Sometimes it's fun, a lot of times it sucks. *Months of boredom punctuated by minutes of sheer panic. *Times when you're so proud of your organization and your people that you think you'll levitate, other times when you wonder whether you should just beat yourself unconscious from the shame of an abysmal performance or whether you should beat up your alleged "leaders" first. *You're usually paid enough to take care of your family but there are times when it's never enough money.

Above all it will be the most challenging thing she can ever claim to have done. *Other goals in life will be achieved (or not) but they'll all be based on the skills, integrity, leadership, time-management skills, and perseverance that she'll develop. *For the rest of her life she'll be able to say about her day: *"Phew, that sure sucked, but I remember this time at USNA that sucked even worse..."

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
As a woman, how will she balance her career and family responsibilities? *What do other female officers do if they were assigned to a far away post, or to a long duty tour? *Husband? *Kids?
I'm predicting that she'll manage them better than most men, but that's just my personal bias and possibly not objective. *My wife was smart enough to marry me (or smart enough to overcome even that) plus raise a kid. *We know plenty of other women naval officers, many of them married to men naval officers, who have done the same. *In the worst case it sure helps to have grandparents or other family who can take over for a month or two every few years. *(Isolated incidents.) *Regardless, the same prioritization & time-management skills learned on the job can help a lot with the family. *If it stops being fun, leave the service ASAP. *

Female officers on hardship tours do pretty much what the men do. *Work out a lot. *Some drink a lot. *Everyone spends a lot of time swapping e-mail & letters with their families, and gazing at their pictures. *Spending money foolishly. *Reminiscing with shipmates about what they're going to do when they get home, and telling each other about their families. *Many families feel a little jealous when the deployment's over because their long-lost and newly-found spouse/parent is still calling their deployment roomate to catch up instead of devoting all their attention to their family. *Sometimes the shipmate bonds seem tighter than family ties.

If you're asking if sex rears its ugly head, of course it does! *Whether she's single or married she'll have about as many opportunities to get laid as the men. *Doing it within the chain of command is about as smart as drunk driving, though, and equally as deadly to one's career (& perhaps marriage). *I suspect that women have better judgment in these areas than men. *Many of the sex-scandal stories at the service academies are steeped in underage drinking and blackout memory losses. *It's probably like that at any college, but it occurs far less at service academies (although it's far more newsworthy). *I can't tell your daughter how to hide alcohol in Bancroft Hall but she's probably smart enough to not drink herself into a coma with the football team.

Oddly enough, having both genders in the workplace dramatically raises the behavior standards and completely avoids a lot of locker-room stuff that can turn hostile and even harassing. *I greatly preferred working in mixed-gender commands because guys behave more professionally and spent less time behaving like guys. *Spouse says the same about working in all-women commands-- when there are guys around the women are actually nicer to everyone and less vindictive. *(I really didn't want to know about the rest of being in an all-woman command.) *I think one of the smartest moves the submarine force could make would be to add women to submarine crews, but that's a separate rant topic.

Speaking as a career-oriented naval submariner, I'm extremely glad that I didn't have to compete for fitness-report rankings against women, especially my spouse. *Most of them would have wiped the conn with my comparitively substandard performance. *I joke with naval couples that I married my spouse so that I'd never have to compete with her for promotion. *(It's a joke-- luckily we're in different year groups.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam
I guess what I'm really asking is if it is possible to have a happy family and be a female officer at the same time.
Yes. *My spouse is living testament to that, and I know a lot more married naval couples than divorced ones. *However, like anything else worth having, it's a heckuva lot of work. *Again USNA equips one with far more skills than most colleges to handle those tough situations.

As a parent of a veteran, Sam, you're gonna spend the rest of your life worrying. *I can't help you with that because I don't know what that's like. *I worry when my spouse is at sea or on travel but I also know that she's mean & nasty smart enough to stay out of trouble and better at handling it than I am. *

But I would worry less about life at USNA than life at a big, disorganized, free-for-all college where people don't always look out for each other, let alone have high goals & standards. *Keep in mind that your daughter's attendance at USNA is no longer your choice, and if you interfere then she will hold it against you for the rest of your life.

I know quite a few USNA grads from the Class of '80, the first class with women, and I went to sea with the subsequent classes. *Generally the '80s was a few years of "Lookee there, a GURL!!" and several subversions of the anti-drug motto "Not on my ship". *However today's admirals and & senior enlisted have served with women for decades, and most of them have adult daughters of their own. *The leaders are mature enough to stop seeing women as objects and to see them as professionals. *They're also responsible enough to be held accountable and appropriately punished if they don't see it that way. *Women are running the academy-- CAPT Kathy Shanebrook '80 is in charge of the Math & Science departments and just missed being Commandant-- and USNA knows how to handle gender issues much better after a generation's experience. *I think gender is settling down to the same level as racism, intolerance, drugs, alcohol, and failure to study for mid-term exams.

By the way, your daughter doesn't really have a choice to attend USNA anymore either. *If she passes up this appointment and doesn't put herself through Plebe Year, then she'll spend the rest of her life wondering if she's tough enough to handle the experience. *Experiencing it and deciding to quit is completely different from never making the attempt in the first place. *She can't back off from this challenge any more easily than she can decide to change her sexual preference or her skin color. *I've talked with dozens of people who started & dropped out of USNA before finishing the first year, and their stories are all filled with the same refrain of "I wish..."

If she passes up USNA, that's it. *Her one chance is gone forever. *She may finagle a nomination in future years but she'll never be offered an appointment again. *

If she accepts USNA and later decides to quit, the other colleges will be very happy to have a USNA student. *They know the service academies, they know what they're getting, and they're delighted to claim USNA's former students as their own. *She'll also have the opportunity to return to the civilian schools for other degrees or graduate programs, something that doesn't exist at USNA. *Heck, the Navy may even be willing to pay her to do it someday.

Your daughter is probably already doing it, but she needs to be able to meet the Academy's physical standard for pushups, situps, runs, and pullups. *Especially the pullups, and I'd recommend striving to exceed those standards by 50%. *Passing with the minimums is not perceived to be good enough to avoid the attention of the PT experts.

She should also read "Annapolis Autumn" by Bruce Fleming. *It's a very balanced perspective on the Academy from a guy who can't be stripped of his tenure but who is definitely not a fan of USNA. *She also needs to do that in case she encounters Professor Fleming for her Plebe English class.

PM me if you want your daughter to have the e-mail addresses of Kathy or a midshipman in '07. *They'll be happy to talk to her.

As for you guys thinking that women don't belong in combat, and most of you are definitely guys in every pejorative sense of the behavior: *If you've never served with a woman in combat, then keep trying. *Someday you'll meet the right woman and you'll understand. *Until then you don't have a clue to what you're proclaiming.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 02:30 PM   #24
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Nords, that's a great summary from an informed perspective, but I guess it all boils down to a very simple proposition for me that I don't see expressed thus far in this thread:

Do I really want to encourage my daughter to go to a school that will result in her having to work several years in a job where she stands a good chance of being put in harm's way?

I know what the answer is for me.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 02:51 PM   #25
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by brewer12345
Do I really want to encourage my daughter to go to a school that will result in her having to work several years in a job where she stands a good chance of being put in harm's way?
Good point, Sam, and your daughter also needs to understand that her primary job, beginning with Youngster Cruise after Plebe Year, will be to kill people & break things.* She'll probably be far away from the front lines, as far as anyone knows where that line is drawn, but midshipmen have received posthumous awards for exceptionally meritorious behavior.* It ain't all a taxpayer-funded freebie.

I can't argue with Brewer, but I can vouch that by the time you're done with the training pipeline you will fear no evil because you think you're the meanest thing in the Valley of Death.* Luckily your leaders have a more balanced opinion, and after a deployment or two you'll also have the greatest respect for avoiding anything leading to that Valley in the first place.

I will point out that our kids will react very strongly to our attempts to dissuade them from such a decision, and our efforts may drive them into it even if they didn't want to do it in the first place.* Spouse has always said that she'll drop our kid in her tracks if she applies to USNA, but I take the approach of expecting that an informed consumer will make the right choice.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 03:18 PM   #26
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

If you daughter thinks she might want to make the military a career than the Academy is the way to go. If all she is looking for is a free education than I would not recommend it. I remember a young pilot that came into our training squadron, after four years of the AF Academy, and a year of flight school he arrived at his operational training base. Six weeks into training he flew his first ground attack sortie. The next day he announced he wanted to resign because he just realized he might have to kill someone if he continued flying. You would have thought he would have had a clue before that.

What I am getting at is the military service has a mission. If your daughter does not agree with that mission she does not belong at the Academy. While many officers never fire a shot in anger, the mission of the military is to fight. As a parent of a Marine, I know he may go in harms way. As one who has a combat tour behind him, I don’t worry as much as my wife does. Bottom line it is her decision. I would just try and make sure she is making it for the right reasons.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 04:25 PM   #27
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Really? Apart from the possibility of being blown to bits or coming home maimed, is a male really any better off?
No. That's exactly the point.

Your gender bias is showing, if anything.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:16 PM   #28
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by eridanus
No. That's exactly the point.

Your gender bias is showing, if anything.
Exactly.

I donít believe this nonsense of the equality of the sexes. Women are built differently, think differently and react differently.

Whilst I would not go as far as to advocate that a womanís place is barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, I can not see women in combat zones. The very idea is ludicrous.

I also donít believe in a military other than one of necessity. That is one being used in self defense and deployed in oneís own country.

Yes I have firm convictions on this matter. You may call it a bias. I call it plain old fashioned common sense.

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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:26 PM   #29
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by mike-1
The very idea is ludicrous. I call it plain old fashioned common sense.
I'd call that a non-constructive distraction in lieu of actual experience or any other credible data.

BTW the naval aviation researchers & physiologists have discovered that women have faster reflexes, better ability to focus, and better judgment under stress.* They make better combat pilots than men and are even reputed to be able to adapt to higher G forces without losing consciousness as quickly.* And I was able to write this entire paragraph without using the words "testosterone poisoning" or "Top Gun movie".

You still need big beefy people to lug heavy mortars & machine guns up hills and through the muck, but I think those jobs are dwindling.* The typical Navy SEAL is much smaller than average-- about 5'9" and 150 lbs.* In that community the smaller you are, the faster you can react & move and the less heat you lose per calorie consumed.

So I'd say that the sooner the military, especially the Navy, stops being a bastion of white Anglo-Saxon males, the better.* If we don't take women & minority races in all combat skills then we're breeding ourselves out of existence by ignoring a good half of our recruits.*
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:29 PM   #30
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Hi--retired female officer (O-5) here. *I was a direct commission into the Air Force because I wanted to get out of Kansas. *I certainly did--I lived all over the world, and other remote places like Oklahoma. I was also a military brat--I never had a home except wherever my parents were...as long as a kid can finish the last coupla years of high school in the same place, it's all right.

I do not regret a minute of the Air Force, but family friendly, it is not. *My decision to leave the military came after spending a year alone in Korea. *I learned a lot about myself, but I missed so much--births, deaths, and of course I missed my husband and family. *I don't have kids, but the female officers that did had a very supportive spouse, or the spouse was active duty also. *The Air Force (generally) won't deploy both spouses at the same time.

After working 60-70 hour weeks for several years, I left so I could watch a tree grow in my own front yard. *Because I have some $$ coming in, I am in acupuncture school and love it. *I would not have been able to do this if I hadn't stayed 20 years in the military. * *

I would be proud of your daughter, and proud she wants to give back to her country. * * * * *

Leslie
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 06:37 PM   #31
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

I also meant to add, she can punch out whenever she wants, but will have a great experience whatever she decides.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:05 PM   #32
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

I think she ought to do it.* It will not be easy, of course.* If she hacks the first year, then make a decision whether or not to continue.* But, she'll KNOW that she's just as able as all those macho men and that will be worth a lifetime of confidence.* Who knows, she might even like it and be a future O-5.* Maybe she can be NORDS' kid's CO.*
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 07:26 PM   #33
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

My son had two female friends that went to the Navel Academy.* One quit when she found out that the promise of medical school that she thought she had wasn't guaranted.* The other quit when she broke her wrist during the initial orientation.* Someone came up behind her during an inspection and said they would kill her if she didn't quit.* She was too shocked to turn around during a "formation."* Two days later during a PT drill was shoved and fell.* That was when she broke her wrist.* Two days later she resigned.

It's a different life.* It's a "warrior's life."* It's no longer a place to get a good, government paid education.* If you don't think you want to be a career military officer, it's not the place to go.* Most state schools are a bargain.* You aren't obligated for 6 years.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 08:57 PM   #34
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Thank you all for your inputs.* You have given me a lot to think about.

Special thanks to FlowGirl, unclemick2, Maddy, Nords, and Leslie for sharing your experiences.

Nords, I might take up on your offer about the contacts.* Thanks.

Leslie, should I have additional questions/concerns, may I contact you off line?


Anyway, I'm very proud of my daughter.* I know this is an opportunity of a lifetime.* I would never discouraged her from pursuing her dream, I just want her to be aware of the future to the best of my ability.

Sam
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 09:39 PM   #35
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Whilst I would not go as far as to advocate that a womanís place is barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, I can not see women in combat zones. The very idea is ludicrous.
This sentiment, whether you (plural) support it or not is no longer relevant considering there are very few remaining specialties within the military that are not open to women. *That's the "law of the land" and any effort to change it now would be going up a big steep hill (like K2 perhaps). * There are many many high-quality female officer and enlisted soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that would challenge your right to take away their ability to serve their country in the manner of their choosing. *Would you take from them, or simply marginalize what they are doing? *This young lady can make her own choice, on her own terms, with her own generations perspective on what is right and what is wrong for a woman to do in the world. *

Disclaimer: My DW and I are both USAFA graduates so this hits pretty close to home. *Some thoughts based on several of the comments being made:
1. *The military academies provide an education that is matched by very few universities. *Sure, some are better, but I doubt I'd be very far into counting toes before I reach them. *The academies have access to programs, equipment and facilities that typically are on the forefront of science. *For example, I thought the Astronautical Engineering department was amazing for the abundance of leading-edge facilities and a top-notch faculty it provided to the undergraduate student. *I think the most people I ever had in one class was around 20 and 1-on-1 help by the professor/instructor was there anytime you needed it.
2. *Sexual Misconduct - when these reports started coming out my DW and I talked to several friends around the world. *None of us (to include several ladies) ever heard of these things happening to anyone of our peers while we were there. *I'm not saying there wasn't anything going on USAFA, obviously there was. *But, I don't think it was as prevalent as depicted in the media. * The true issue was how the incidents were being covered up by the cadets and then poorly handled by the senior officers when finally reported. *USAFA leadership was fired/replaced, and a significant sexual misconduct and reporting/professional conduct training program was implimented. *I personally think you'd be less likely to have a problem in this area at the academies than at a civilian university. *Military academies are just under too much of a microscope and recent events (1999-2004 especially) make it even less likely to occur.
3. *I've served with and alongside many female officers and they run the same spectrum of quality as the men, and they may even lean toward the better officers around (as Nords alluded). *It's just a matter of time before I work for a lady, and I'd say I'm unusual in that it hasn't happened yet. *It's really not something I waste any brainpower on - someday I'll work for another person that happens to be a woman. *No difference...and I'm in a pretty combat oriented field too. *Is this really any diffent than the civilian world?
4. *It's not a life long decision when you are 18. *You can exit stage left any time in the first two years at a military academy without owing anything (at least if things haven't changed recently). *There is a commitment following graduation but as a taxpayer I'm sure you can see the importance of that. *You can get a pretty good set of experiences at a relatively young age to take with you to your next civilian job if you find the military isn't for you at the ripe old age of *cough* 26. *My wife decided to leave the AF after 6 years. *Based on the high level awards she was winning it probably should have been the other way around, but that was the choice that was made (by her I'd emphasize). *She doesn't regret her time on active duty at all, but I also know she is happy she left when she did. *
5. *The comment about the military not being for everyone is absolutely correct. *She really needs to consider what it means to be in the Navy before making the decision, especially in our current world. *Ditto if she decides to pursue ROTC at university.
6. *Someone already said this very well, but I'll just repeat that she's going to make this decision on her own. *You can steer and guide, but if she's determined it won't really matter. *I often wonder what my FIL thought (a Korea Navy man himself) when his daughter decided to to to USAFA. *Frankly, I don't think he was too fond of the idea, but he's a very supportive father.

And that's probably the most important thing. *Whatever her choice, wherever she decides to go to school, you've obviously got to back her decision 100%. *Your support for her decision will be critical to her success no matter where she winds up.

AV8
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 10:48 PM   #36
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2B
It's a different life.* It's a "warrior's life."* It's no longer a place to get a good, government paid education.* If you don't think you want to be a career military officer, it's not the place to go.* Most state schools are a bargain.* You aren't obligated for 6 years.
I'd like to know when it was a good time to attend a service academy!

I've read that very few academy grads make it to retirement. I'd like to see the numbers but I wouldn't be surprised if it's less than 10%. I do know that a service academy gives a brand, shiny new O-1 about a six months' head start over the average (and I mean middle-of-the-pack) OCS or ROTC graduate. After that they have to haul their own weight or get run over.

Just to put the latest number out there, I believe that the current service academy obligation is back to five years' active duty and three years in the Reserves (eight years total). Graduates are no longer given a Reserve commission-- they're active duty. After eight years no Reserve obligation is required.

And, as always, the first two years are free... so perhaps it's a good place to get half of a govt paid education.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-30-2006, 11:06 PM   #37
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

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Originally Posted by AV8
Disclaimer: My DW and I are both USAFA graduates so this hits pretty close to home. *Some thoughts based on several of the comments being made:
AV8, thanks for your input.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-31-2006, 06:33 AM   #39
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AV8
This sentiment, whether you (plural) support it or not is no longer relevant considering there are very few remaining specialties within the military that are not open to women. That's the "law of the land" and any effort to change it now would be going up a big steep hill (like K2 perhaps). There are many many high-quality female officer and enlisted soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen that would challenge your right to take away their ability to serve their country in the manner of their choosing. Would you take from them, or simply marginalize what they are doing? This young lady can make her own choice, on her own terms, with her own generations perspective on what is right and what is wrong for a woman to do in the world.


AV8
For clarification:I am not saying that women shouldn't have the right to serve in the armed forces although I consider the whole proposition ludicrous. A woman has no business in a combat zone.

I do agree though that if ones daughter were to opt for this line of work (i hesitate to use the word 'career') then it is only right to support her. It is her life and she will do what she wants with it, even if it means literally throwing it away.

As to 'serving their country' well that might even be of some use, as long as it is done on home soil.
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?
Old 03-31-2006, 06:52 AM   #40
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Re: Family Life and Female Officer?

Quote:
I've read that very few academy grads make it to retirement. I'd like to see the numbers but I wouldn't be surprised if it's less than 10%.
Nords, you really need to stop talking about something you know nothing about. Well over half of the entering freshman class graduate. I trust AV8 to confirm that.
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