After some of the comments from yesterday’s post, I thought I would express my thoughts on women in the military.
The way that women are treated in the military is a bit unfair. Not the way that women would have you believe that they are being mistreated- in fact, they have a HUGE advantage. The last thing that women REALLY want is equality. Let me explain:
I did six years in the Navy. I was an Electrician’s mate which, according to the Navy, is a sea intensive rating. What this means is that there are not that many shore based billets in comparison to sea based billets, so an EM spends the majority of his service assigned to a seagoing command. In keeping with this reality, the Navy has a sea/shore rotation for EMs that is- shall we say, a bit taxing.
Sailors who are electricians typically are assigned to a sea command immediately following their initial training, which takes up the first 7 months or so of their enlistment. That first sea posting lasts 51 months. This means that the first enlistment and the first year and a half of the second is spent assigned to a seagoing command. Most sea going commands spend about 65-75% of their time at sea. After this posting, that electrician is sent to a shore post for 36 months, and then back to sea duty for 60 months. After that, the rotation is 48 at sea followed by 35 months on shore.
In fact, in a 20 year career, a sailor who is an EM will spend 14 of those years assigned to a seagoing command, on average. No surprise, it’s the Navy, and the Navy is in charge of the sea.
Unless you are a woman. Women who are assigned to shore duty outside the continental US (including Hawaii) are counted as being on sea duty, even though they are home every night. A man in the exact same billet is counted as shore duty. So a woman could be assigned to Hawaii for 5 years, and be eligible for 3 years of shore duty in San Diego, while a man in the exact same job would do 5 years floating on a Destroyer, followed by 3 years at San Diego.
If you are a woman and you get pregnant, you get 18 weeks off WITH PAY after the baby is born. In addition, women are assigned to light duty on shore for the majority of their pregnancy before the baby is born.
Men get only ten days off after their child is born. When I was in, every time a command with women assigned to it was scheduled to deploy, a large percentage of the female crew members would get pregnant. Free time off, and time not being spent away from home. This is the reason why one in seven female service members are single mothers.
Women have claimed for years that they want the same chances as men to advance in the military, but frequently use their gender as an excuse to escape the real work. It is about time they were held to task.
Some shore commands in the Norfolk, Va., area report that up to 34 percent of their billets are filled by pregnant sailors, and commanders are complaining about a “lack of proper manning to conduct their mission,” according to a Naval Inspector General report.
When sailors on sea duty become pregnant, they are transferred to shore-based commands that fit certain criteria, such as being close to a Navy medical center. The length of that “postpartum tour” is 12 months after a child’s birth. Combined with a nine-month pregnancy, that puts expectant mothers on limited duty for up to 21 months.
21 months? Picture this: you join the Navy, and finish two months of Boot Camp, and 4 months of A school. You get your orders, and get travel time and up to 30 days of leave, then report aboard your first ship: You have been in the Navy for 7 months, and have not contributed to the mission one bit. You get pregnant, and sit on shore duty for 21 months. You now have been in the Navy for 28 months- more than half of your enlistment is over, you have done NOTHING to earn the money you have been paid, and the taxpayer has paid for your medical care and training.
There are 54,000 women serving in the US Navy– and last year, 3,125 (5.8%) of them got pregnant. If that is an average year, then there are 9,375 women (17.4%) on shore duty due to pregnancy at any given time.
To top it off, once the postpartum tour is over, the woman then gets another set of orders to go somewhere else, which entitles her to another 30 days of leave (because of her change in duty station). Since she is a single mother, she is now entitled to a hardship discharge. It is a waste of money, and turns the military into another government welfare/social program.
There is an article here about women in some units in the military being subject to courts martial if they get pregnant. Some complain that it infringes on a woman’s reproductive rights. My view is that women use the pregnancy thing to get out of unpleasant military assignments, and then men must be reassigned to those now vacant positions.
Our military cannot perform its mission if nearly ten percent of its force can’t deploy because they can’t find a babysitter.
You want equal? Make it equal. Same haircuts, same uniforms, same duty. If that means that you can’t be a mother while in the service, so be it. Perhaps the time spent on convalescent leave could be added to your enlistment: 18 weeks of maternity leave means 18 more weeks of active duty without reenlistment bonus, or alternatively, enlistment means taking a Depo-Provera shot for the duration of your enlistment.
You are either equal, or you are not.