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As we approach Memorial Day, I would like to take a moment to thank all of our women troops, both veterans and those currently serving.  I would also like to honor the fallen, most recently USAF MSG Tara R. Brown, who was among eight Americans who were killed in Afghanistan on April 27, 2011.  She was thirty-three years old.  To date one hundred and forty-four female troops have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. An additional twenty-four non-civilian deaths have occurred.  In honor of all of them, I want to share with you a series of letters written by Pfc. LaVena Lynn Johnson to her parents.  LaVena died on July 19, 2005. She was only nineteen.

Since 2002, women have served in over 170,000 tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the Pentagon and DoD do not ‘allow’ women to serve on the ‘front-lines’, the rules are not demonstrably enforced.  The nature of guerrilla insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, make it difficult to establish and define what exactly the ‘front-lines’ are. Women troops are tasked with supporting combat units and more often than not, find themselves next to their male counterparts, fighting side by side.  They serve as pilots, drivers, gunners, and MPs to name a few.  They are in combat.

Many of these brave women are mothers.  In fact, there are thousands mothers who have served or are serving overseas today.  No holidays for these moms; Christmas, Hanukah, Easter, or Mother’s Day.  No shared presents. No breakfast in bed.  If lucky, they might receive a phone call.  Many of these women are single mothers and lengthy and increasing redeployments take an enormous emotional toll.  Imagine being without your children month after month and year after year.  Imagine missing homework, first steps, and training wheels.

Our women return home suffering from the same emotional and physical trauma as our courageous men.  They too watched close friends and civilians die.  They too suffered in the same heat, were hit by the same fire, and endured the same fear and helplessness.  They too return with missing arms and legs--with brain injuries. They too are afflicted with PTSD and they also come home with MST (as do some of our men).  The Pentagon has finally acknowledged that one in three women will be sexually assaulted while serving in the military, which is undoubtedly a low number considering that rape is one of the most under reported crimes there is.  Our women suffer too.

The medical resources provided our active servicewomen and women veterans are sorely lacking. There are greater numbers of women serving their country and the armed forces has not caught up with the need for gender-specific health care.  The VA has few physicians trained in women’s unique medical issues.  Since 2008, they have been making progress, providing access to mammograms, pap smears, birth control, and female doctors.  But it still isn’t enough.  Many women come home with severe mental health issues and again, few armed services doctors are equipped to deal with the issues of PTSD as it relates to women, MST, and the psychological wounds created when mothers are separated from their children. Although, the VA is trying to deal with the onslaught of returning women troops, the resources provided are still insufficient.  Our Women need More and Better.  They’ve earned it.

Would you please take a moment today to visit Netroots for the Troops and make a small donation—In memory of the fallen women of OIF and Afghanistan?
SPC Faith R Hinkley, SPC Morganne M. McBeth, PFC Erin L McLyman, SPC Lakeshia M Bailey, CWO2 Billie J. Grinder, PFC Adriana Alvarez, SSG Amy (Seyboth) Tirador, PFC Jessica Y Sarandrea, L/CPL Stacy A Dryden, SSG Renee A Deville, PVT Janelle F King, PFC Jennifer L Cole, T/SGT Jackie L Larsen, CPL Jessica A Ellis, SPC Mary J Jaenichen, L/CPL Casey Lynne Casanova, NC Cherie Morton, SPC Keisha M Morgan, SGT Tracy Renee Birkman, SPC Ashley (Segura) Sietsema, SPC Christine M Ndururi, SSG Carletta S (Ward) Davis, 2LT Tracy Lynn Alger, MASN Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, MASN Genesia Mattril Gresham, SSG Lillian (Cobbin) Clamens, SPC Rachael L Hugo,  MASA Shayna Ann Schnell, CPT (Dr) Roselle M. Hoffmaster, SPC Marisol Heredia,  SPC Kamisha J Block, SGT Princess C Samuels, SPC Zandra T (Worthy) Walker, SSG Alicia A (Finklea) Birchett, CPT Maria Ines Ortiz,  SPC Michelle R (Stearns) Ring, SGT Trista L Moretti, SPC Karen N Clifton, PFC Katie M (Soenksen) Rowella, SGT Ashly L Moyer,  CPL Jennifer M Parcell, CPT Jennifer Harris, R SPC Carla J Stewart, CSM Marilyn L (Van Cannon) Gabbard, MA1 Jennifer A (Young) Valdivia, F Sr Airman Elizabeth A Loncki, DCFA Sandra S (Grant) Fry, MAJ Gloria D. Davis, MAJ Megan M. McClung, SGT Jeannette T. Dunn, SGT Denise A Lannaman, 1LT Ashley (Henderson) Huff,  LCDR Jane E (Lanham) Tafoya, SGT Jennifer M Hartman, 2LT Emily J. T. Perez, PFC Hannah L. (Heavrin) Gunterman McKinney, R HM2 Jaime S. Jaenke, L/CPL Juana Navarro Arellano, SPC Amanda Pinson, PFC Amy A Duerksen, PFC Tina M Priest, LT Jaime Lynn (Krausse) Campbell, SGT Myla L. Maravillosa, SGT Regina C. Reali,  SGT Julia V. Atkins, MOARNG 1LT Debra A. (Butler) Banaszak, F A1C Elizabeth N. Jacobson,  SPC Toccara R. Green, PVT LaVena L. Johnson, SSG Tricia L. Jameson, L/CPL Holly A. Charette,  CPL Ramona M. Valdez, R CS1 Regina R. Clark, SPC Carrie Lee French, PFC Sam Williams Huff,  SPC Aleina Ramirez-Gonzalez, SPC Adriana N. Salem, SPC Lizbeth Robles, SPC Katrina Lani (Johnson) Bell, SGT Jessica M. Housby, SGT Tina S. Time, SGT Cari Ann Gasiewicz, SGT Pamela G. Osbourne, SPC Jessica Lynn Cawvey, SGT Shawna M. Morrison, SGT Tatjana Reed, SFC Linda Ann Tarango-Griess, PFC Melissa J. Hobart,  PFC Leslie D. Jackson,  SPC Isela Rubalcava, SPC Michelle M. Witmer, SPC Tyanna S. (Avery) Felder, CPT Gussie M. Jones, Nichole M. Frye, PFC Holly Jeanne McGeogh, SGT Keicia M. (Coleman) Hines, CPT Kimberly N. Hampton, SSG Kimberly A. (Fahnestock) Voelz, SGT Linda C. Jimenez, CWO5 Sharon T. (Mayo) Swartworth, PFC Karina S. Lau, SPC Frances M. Vega, PFC Rachel K. Bosveld, FN Jakia Sheree Cannon, PFC Analaura Esparza Gutierrez, SPC Tamarra Joharidelonda Ramos, SPC Alyssa Renee Peterson, SGT Melissa Valles, PFC Lori Ann Piestewa, MSG Tara R. Brown, SSG Cynthia R. Taylor, SGT Linda L. Pierre, PFC Amy R Sinkler, OS2 Dominique Cruz, SGT Zainah C Creamer, LTC Gwendolyn A Locht, SSG Aracely Gonzalez O’Malley, Jaysine S Petree, SGT Eduviges G (Preciado) Wolf, SSG Tara J Smith, SrAirman Ashton L M Goodman, 1LT Roslyn L Schulte, 1LT Roslyn L Schulte, SPC Simone A Robinson, SPC Seteria L (Harris) Brown, SPC Ciara Durkin, MA2 Laquita (Pate) James, SFC Merideth L (Howard) Hvolboll, SGT Wakkuna A Jackson, SrAirman Alecia S Good, 1LT Laura M. Walker, SGM Barbaralien Banks, SPC Chrystal Gaye Stout, SPC Julie Rochelle Hickey, 1LT Tamara (Long) Archuleta, SN Katrina R Grady, SGT Jeannette L. Winters. (Courtesty of Noonie Fortin)
The mission of NFTT is two-fold: annual shipment of Care Packages to US soldiers in serving in hostile regions of Iraq and Afghanistan for the duration of their deployment, and on-going financial assistance for veterans and their families upon their return to the states.

Our goal for Netroots for the TroopsTM  2011 is $100,000.0 (cash or in-kind donations)

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Originally posted to Mojo Friday on Fri May 27, 2011 at 02:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by J Town, Pink Clubhouse, Erase the Hate, Cranky Users, New York City, Netroots For The Troops®, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, and New Diary Writers.

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