History of Women Warriors

History of Women Warriors

(IntegrityPress.com) – Women have played a much bigger role in history than many people realize, especially in our military. Despite service women dating back to the Revolutionary War, women haven’t been given the same recognition as their male counterparts throughout history. Let’s give credit where credit is due and take a look into the history of women warriors.

The War for Independence

Before the US Army was officially established, America’s fighting force was known as the Continental Army. During this time, women didn’t have the rights they have today, but that didn’t stop them from putting their lives on the line to fight for their country. Although many were in traditionally “female roles,” such as nurses, cooks or seamstresses, some disguised themselves as men to join the fight; some even fought alongside their husbands.

Civil War

The Civil War was by far the bloodiest conflict in American history, as it pitted the nation against itself. Women once again answered the call of duty and took up traditional roles, but many did not. In fact, some women even enlisted as spies or smugglers for the Army. More than 400 women took up arms, serving both the Confederacy and the Union.

The US was seeing a serious shift in its social structure at the time, and women needed to adapt quickly. With determination and dedication, these women proved their worth, effectively aiding the United States in becoming what it is today.

Nurse Corps

Typhoid fever was a serious problem during the Spanish-American War, bringing about the need for nurses with experience. In 1898, congressional approval was requested and rapidly granted to form a nurse corps. The performance of US Army nurses inspired officials to bring on medical personnel with knowledge of military ways. This would be the birth of the Army’s Nurse Corps in 1901.

The War to End All Wars

More than 25,000 women between the ages of 21 and 69 would serve overseas during World War I. Many of these women went alone or with few companions beginning in August of 1914. While the majority of these women worked as nurses, others went on to serve in administrative roles, do secretarial or phone operator work or contribute as architects. Even after the war had ended, many of these women didn’t return home until 1923. It was this service and dedication that helped propel the ratification of the 19th Amendment on June 4th, 1919, which granted women the right to vote.

World War II

The most gender-role changing event to take place in American history happened during the formation of the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Over 140,000 women served between the US Army and WAC during World War II. In an effort to “free a man to fight,” these women went into hundreds of different fields during the war. For example, many joined parachute rigging, military intelligence, cryptography and maintenance.

About 60,000 women served as nurses, and another 1,000 flew aircraft for the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. The courage and dedication these women demonstrated during the war would bring about several changes to both society and the economy in the United States.

Forever Ingrained in History

Although our leaders had intended to discontinue the WAC and the Nurse Corps 6 months after the end of WWII, both soon became official additions to the US Army. The WAC would move to Fort McClellan, AL, and after the Korean War, its priorities would change as well.

The organization sought to portray a certain amount of pride and imagery in these branches, showing dedication toward more job opportunities for women within the WAC. Eventually, their efforts paid off as the Army chief of staff increased the cap on the number of women the WAC was able to recruit.

Various events seriously impacted both the WAC and the Nurse Corps, primarily the growing feminist movement along with the end of the Vietnam War. The main focus for women in uniform became parity and increased opportunity.

The WAC would be discontinued between the 1980s and 1990s, effectively allowing women to join the US Army; from there, women were able to bring down even more gender barriers. These troops have been tried and tested as the US Army has called them to aid in regional conflicts, humanitarian efforts and natural disasters across the globe. Ultimately, these efforts redefined the roles women played in our military.

Modern Day

While the attacks on the Twin Towers took place nearly two decades ago, the event that unfolded on September 11th, 2001 was an important shifting point for women in the US Army. Priorities in Iraq and Afghanistan changed, allowing for women within the ranks of the Army to see a period of rapid expansion and increased opportunities.

In 2016, women earned the freedom to choose between all military occupational specialties. Women have not only played important roles in our military and the development of the US Army, but the country as a whole has these brave women to thank for helping it become what it is today.

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