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Study: Female vets more critical of Iraq, Afghanistan wars

By LEO SHANE III | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 22, 2011

WASHINGTON — Female veterans are more likely to be critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan than their male counterparts, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center.

The study, released Thursday, also finds that women in the military are more racially diverse than their male counterparts, are less likely to be married and are more likely to hold administrative or medical jobs. The data provided comes from a pair of veterans surveys conducted over the last two years, as well as an analysis of the current demographic makeup of the military.

Almost two-thirds of the women surveyed (63 percent) said the Iraq War was not worth fighting, and more than half (54 percent) had similar views on the war in Afghanistan. Among male veterans, 47 percent felt that way about Iraq, and only 39 percent believed that about Afghanistan.

The number of women serving in the military has almost quadrupled in the last 40 years, to 167,000 today, but rules barring them from combat units still limit the roles and jobs they hold. Only 15 percent of female veterans surveyed were exposed to combat during their service, while 35 percent of male veterans saw battlefield action.

Female troops are more heavily concentrated in administrative roles (30 percent of those who served) and medical roles (15 percent) than their male counterparts. The military has also seen a rise recently in the number of female officers, bringing them roughly in line with the percentage of male officers.

Researchers also noted that nearly a third of women currently in the active-duty force are black (black men make up only about 16 percent of the force) and almost half of the women are non-white (47 percent, compared to 29 percent for men).

And while women serving are less likely to be married than men (46 percent vs. 58 percent), those who are married are much more likely to have a military spouse. Almost half of all married women in the military have a spouse who is also active-duty. Less than 10 percent of married male troops have an active-duty spouse.

The report did find that despite the demographic differences, male and female troops share the same struggles.

About 47 percent of female servicemembers and 42 percent of men said they had emotionally traumatic or distressing experiences during their military careers. Among post-Sept. 11 veterans, 45 percent of men and 43 percent of women said their readjustment to civilian life has been difficult.

shanel@stripes.osd.mil

Twitter: @LeoShane

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