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In Her Own Words

The Impart of Women's Leadership in Global Conflict Conference
The University of Edinburgh in collaboration with Vision
2020, Drexel College of Medicine's Institute of Women's Health and Leadership
TheScottish Parliament, sponsored by Malcolm Chisholm, MSP
June 14, 2013, 4:00 pm
 
Opening remarks by Kimberly Olson, Colonel, USAF (retired)
CEO/President
Grace After Fire


Thank you to the Center for the Study of Modern Conflict and Vision 2020 for giving women veterans a voice on an international platform. The enlightening and brilliant presentations on women in warfare drew a direct line between the historic efforts of women and today's opportunities for women. The University of Edinburgh was the perfect setting to make this connection with its own rich history and contemporary reputation.
 
In the eve of two decade-long conflicts, the United States Armed Forces finds itself in a perfect storm of social, political, and fundamental change. This turmoil has precedence following all of the major conflicts of this century: from WWI through Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan.
 
The social evolution facing today's military stems from the realization that the US military raised, projected, and sustained an all-volunteer force through two major conflicts in the longest engagement the US has known. Another first is this all-volunteer force which is comprised of 20% women has them participating in combat areas of operations. Nearly 250,000 women served in Iraq and Afghanistan and many were in direct combat. But even with the participation of women, the military is far from a microcosm of American society—with only 1% of the population serving in uniform, today's military is small, unique, and isolated from the society it serves. In fact, 1 in every 5 recruits is a female and she is actually twice as educated as the civilian population. This influx of women is also seen in universities and colleges across American with women outpacing men in law and med school.

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Military Women in Combat

It may be another two years before women can start training for jobs in Army Ranger and Navy SEAL units under plans to be announced by the Pentagon on Tuesday, a Defense Department official familiar with the matter said.

The official declined to be named because the plans are not yet announced.It is part of the next step in a longstanding effort to open as many combat jobs as possible to women.

The plan now is for jobs in special operations to be available to women possibly in mid-2015.    The official argued the latest development is not a delay, but is more of an acknowledgment by the military that it needs more time to study the issue.  Full implementation of women into combat positions, including infantry and armor units, is to be completed by January 2016.

The military has gradually been opening more jobs to women.  But in January, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered all jobs open to women unless a specific "exception" was requested by the military services.

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Vision 2020 To Lead 'WOMEN IN WARFARE' Discussion At Scottish Parliament

Vision 2020

Contact:
Mary Flannery
Vision 2020
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
215-991-8198

PHILADELPHIA, PA- MAY 28, 2013- - Vision 2020 will take its message of advancing gender equality to Edinburgh, Scotland next month when founder and co-chair Lynn Yeakel moderates a panel discussion on "The Impact of Women's Leadership in Global Conflict" at Scottish Parliament.

The prestigious panel discussion on June 14 will be the culmination of a three-day conference, "Women and Warfare: From Troy to the Trenches," at The University of Edinburgh, June 12-14, 2013, that will examine the diversity of roles women have played in warfare from antiquity to current conflicts.

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Honoring Their Service

“You can’t swing a dead cat in Fort Worth without hitting some organization that says it’s serving veterans,” said Olson, the charismatic, straight-talking CEO of women’s veterans group Grace After Fire, based in Fort Worth. “But I’d rather have the space for helping veterans be crowded, with lots of people trying to do good work within it, than have it be cavernous, with nobody there to help us.”

Read more: Honoring Their Service