Where were the women’s groups?
Women may have the right to serve in active combat now, but women’s veterans organizations were missing from a meeting held Thursday with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and representatives from more than 20 veterans and military groups that included the American Legion, AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, the USO and Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.
Yet more than 280,000 service women have been in U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The roundtable discussion with Hagel and veterans and service members covered such topics as the fiscal 2014 budget, transition assistance, veterans employment and mental health issues facing troops.
Of concern to service women is the issue of sexual assault, which has been the focus of recent congressional hearings.
“Women make up 15 percent of our nation’s Armed Forces and are the fastest growing population within the veterans’ community – we deserve a seat at the table. It is an embarrassment that no one thought to invite us,” said Service Women’s Action Network executive director and former Marine Corps Capt. Anu Bhagwati. SWAN is a national nonpartisan civil rights organization founded and led by women veterans.
Let’s hope that women veterans organizations are included in any future discussions.