Friday, January 25, 2013

The Financial Impact of Women in Combat


In an article titled, “Get Over It, We Are Not All Created Equal”, Capt. Katie Petronio of the Marine Corps stated, “As a combat-experienced Marine officer, and a female, I am here to tell you that we are not all created equal, and attempting to place females in the infantry will not improve the Marine Corps as the Nation’s force-in-readiness or improve our national security.  In the end, my main concern is not whether women are capable of conducting combat operations, as we have already proven that we can hold our own in some very difficult combat situations; instead, my main concern is a question of longevity. Can women endure the physical and physiological rigors of sustained combat operations, and are we willing to accept the attrition and medical issues that go along with integration?”

The recent change in the military lifting the ban on women in combat will have an effect on the economy but just how much has not been realized or explored.  

In Bangladesh, Nobel Prize-winner Muhammad Yunus, creator of the micro-credit phenomenon, has found that women not only repay loans more often than men, but that when women control the money, their families were more likely to benefit from the income. 

Over half the country’s population is women who purchase or influence the purchase of more than 80% of all products and services. Women are the majority decision makers in food, clothes, appliances, cosmetics, travel, car, automobiles, computer electronics, vacations, lawn mowers, trucks, healthcare, computers, cell phones, financial services and home improvement.  Women will spend approximately $1,417,000 more than men overtime their lifetime. 

According to Mindshare/Ogilvy & Mather, in sports women make up: 47.2 % of major league soccer fans, 46.5% of major league baseball fans, 43.2% of NFL fans, 40.8% of fans at NHL games, 37% of NBA fans, purchase 46% of official NFL merchandise, spent 80% of all sport apparel dollars and controlled 60% of all money spent on men’s clothing, and 40% of the 6.6 million people attending Winston Cup races each year are women.  If some on these women go to combat, these industries will be impacted.  The more money women spend the more the economy is stimulated, if the women spend less money the economy suffers.

Some experts feel mothers spend more on children’s need first and household goods are distributed evenly.  With women in combat, there will be fewer mothers at home to nurture and car for sick spouses and children which may result in longer recovery time and more money in doctor’s visits and medication.  Less women employees on staff will affect company productivity, new sales, creation of products and services and overall revenue. Fewer volunteers will be available for parent-teacher conferences to ensure children are performing well in school and fewer volunteers available for community service initiatives.  There will be less money contributed towards retirement plans and savings account.  Household finances previously managed by women may result mismanaged finances and bills not paid on time resulting in late fees, collection accounts and bad credit.  This eventually results in more fees to pay off late payments and restore credit ratings.  

Less women-owned businesses will be created and existing women owned businesses will be impacted. There will be fewer women in executive management positions.  Women may not be drawn to the workforce and instead choose to be employed in the military.  There will be fewer women having children or women having fewer children which will impact the workforce resulting in a decrease in the number of scientists, engineers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, police officers.  This will also reduce the amount of innovative technology advancements produced.

If a woman gets involved with a fellow soldier and becomes pregnant, the unit experiences a reduction in soldiers and requires additional resources and funding to replace the woman soldier.  Women who get injured during combat are more likely to incur higher medical costs because women are smaller than men, are not are physically strong as men, have less muscle mass and experience fatigue more often due to their distinct physical differences and hormonal makeup.  Although some soldiers in combat get paid more money, since most women are paid only $.77 for every dollar earned, women in combat will likely experience the same.

Some soldiers in combat serve 6-7 months tours; others serve 4, 6, 8, or 12 month tours. Shorter tours result in more tours assigned per soldier.  Longer tours result in fewer tours assigned per soldier.  Soldiers have experienced combat stress 3 - 6 times longer than their fathers and grandfathers.  In the Afghanistan war some soldiers served over 30 months straight, many more than that. If a war breaks out, women could serve multiple tours lasting for years.

Women in combat also have to deal with family issues with spouses left at home alone.  Soldiers in extended periods of combat experienced higher rates of divorce that those in non-combat.  Then there are the abandonment issues experienced by children left without a mother.

In 2010, according to Army News there were approximately 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who were receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department. There was an average of 18 veterans committing suicide each day.  Then there are the psychological scars from serving in combat such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), nightmares, sleeping disorders, anxiety attacks, depression, bouts of anger and rage, extreme moods swings, etc.

The possibility of woman in combat issue should have been analyzed to fully understand the gender-specific medical issues, overall physical toll that continuous combat operations will have on women in combat and effect on the economy. Research also needs to be conducted on the medical ailments of women who have performed sustained combat operations.

There are also disadvantages of surviving combat. Some have to wait months to receive benefits, experience periods of unemployment, return injured, commit suicide, resort to bad habits such as drinking, using drugs and committing crimes and other issues

I am all for women having equal rights in all aspects of life.  However, you have to ask yourself who really benefits from this change - women, the military, our enemies or the government?


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Steven Conville