Heather Thibault Part One: Women in Combat
My dear, Heather. It’s not about YOU.
Heather Thibault was a medic in Iraq with the Army National Guard and recently returned home from Camp Anaconda, north of Baghdad. A profile of her in yesterday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer Reporter was titled Limits on combat upset female medic. The subtitle: “Ready, willing and unable to fight.”
Because, of course, it’s all about Heather. Heather is, “upset.” Heather is, “feisty.” Heather is, “buff.” Heather is, “angered.”
Why is she angry? Because Heather has, according to the paper, “Right uniform, wrong chromosome.”
Well, before we get too worked up about that wrong chromosome, here’s another thing Heather is:
Heather is, “barely 5 feet” tall. Doesn’t say whether that includes her combat boots. It does say that Heather is, all of 125 pounds.
Her service to our country should be honored — the article says she has nightmares from her experiences caring for the wounded in Iraq. Her hands were bloodied in the care of wounded, as nurses did during Vietnam, and other wars.
But battlefield medics are charged with evacuating wounded. While the reporter is busy venting spleen over the big, bad “military policy” keeping Heather out of combat — as if engaging the enemy is some glorified Disneyland ride that they kept her from experiencing — the article doesn’t express any interest in Thibault’s ability, or not, to carry a 180 pound soldier (plus 80 lbs of battle rattle) out of harm’s way.
The article snears at this concern as a “weaker sex” argument. So be it. I wouldn’t bet my son’s life on her upper body strength.
NO one has a “right” to go into combat. We’re facing a relentless drumbeat from the media, with stories of individual women who “should be allowed” to go into combat. But it’s not about them. It’s not about the individual. Combat is about the mission, unit cohesion and survival.
Those men we do ask to risk their lives — and the hopes and dreams of all those who love them — by going into combat have the right to expect us to do everything humanly possible to give them the best chance of coming out alive.
That’s the only right we should be concerned about.
There’s a subtext to this story that is worth mentioning. The article mentions that since returning from Iraq, Heather has been visiting local schools to talk with young people. Here’s what she has to say about the war on terror:
We’re throwing rocks at a hornet’s nest, turning moderates into religious fanatics, and you’re going to inherit the problem. …
It kind of sucks when you piss off the whole world.
Maybe she forgot that whole World Trade Center meltdown thing. . .
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Knowledge is Power has some thoughts and appreciation for sacrifice women make.