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The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq

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The Lonely Soldier--the inspiration for the documentary The Invisible War--vividly tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006--and of the challenges they faced while fighting a war painfully alone. More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only The Lonely Soldier--the inspiration for the documentary The Invisible War--vividly tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006--and of the challenges they faced while fighting a war painfully alone. More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, "I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine." In The Lonely Soldier, Benedict tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. She follows them from their childhoods to their enlistments, then takes them through their training, to war and home again, all the while setting the war's events in context. We meet Jen, white and from a working-class town in the heartland, who still shakes from her wartime traumas; Abbie, who rebelled against a household of liberal Democrats by enlisting in the National Guard; Mickiela, a Mexican American who grew up with a family entangled in L.A. gangs; Terris, an African American mother from D.C. whose childhood was torn by violence; and Eli PaintedCrow, who joined the military to follow Native American tradition and to escape a life of Faulknerian hardship. Between these stories, Benedict weaves those of the forty other Iraq War veterans she interviewed, illuminating the complex issues of war and misogyny, class, race, homophobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these stories is unique, yet collectively they add up to a heartbreaking picture of the sacrifices women soldiers are making for this country. Benedict ends by showing how these women came to face the truth of war and by offering suggestions for how the military can improve conditions for female soldiers-including distributing women more evenly throughout units and rejecting male recruits with records of violence against women. Humanizing, urgent, and powerful, The Lonely Soldier is a clarion call for change.


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The Lonely Soldier--the inspiration for the documentary The Invisible War--vividly tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006--and of the challenges they faced while fighting a war painfully alone. More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only The Lonely Soldier--the inspiration for the documentary The Invisible War--vividly tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006--and of the challenges they faced while fighting a war painfully alone. More American women have fought and died in Iraq than in any war since World War Two, yet as soldiers they are still painfully alone. In Iraq, only one in ten troops is a woman, and she often serves in a unit with few other women or none at all. This isolation, along with the military's deep-seated hostility toward women, causes problems that many female soldiers find as hard to cope with as war itself: degradation, sexual persecution by their comrades, and loneliness, instead of the camaraderie that every soldier depends on for comfort and survival. As one female soldier said, "I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine." In The Lonely Soldier, Benedict tells the stories of five women who fought in Iraq between 2003 and 2006. She follows them from their childhoods to their enlistments, then takes them through their training, to war and home again, all the while setting the war's events in context. We meet Jen, white and from a working-class town in the heartland, who still shakes from her wartime traumas; Abbie, who rebelled against a household of liberal Democrats by enlisting in the National Guard; Mickiela, a Mexican American who grew up with a family entangled in L.A. gangs; Terris, an African American mother from D.C. whose childhood was torn by violence; and Eli PaintedCrow, who joined the military to follow Native American tradition and to escape a life of Faulknerian hardship. Between these stories, Benedict weaves those of the forty other Iraq War veterans she interviewed, illuminating the complex issues of war and misogyny, class, race, homophobia, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Each of these stories is unique, yet collectively they add up to a heartbreaking picture of the sacrifices women soldiers are making for this country. Benedict ends by showing how these women came to face the truth of war and by offering suggestions for how the military can improve conditions for female soldiers-including distributing women more evenly throughout units and rejecting male recruits with records of violence against women. Humanizing, urgent, and powerful, The Lonely Soldier is a clarion call for change.

30 review for The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq

  1. 4 out of 5

    Cristin

    Although a deeply moving and disturbing account of women at war,this book focused solely on the negative aspects of a female serving in the armed forces.I am a female soldier serving in the U.S. Army.In six years of service and counting,I have witnessed different instances of pure ignorance displayed by misogynistic and chauvinistic males.I have also had the pleasure of serving with thoughtful,respectful,and caring men whom I thought of as brothers and father figures.I spent a year in Iraq with Although a deeply moving and disturbing account of women at war,this book focused solely on the negative aspects of a female serving in the armed forces.I am a female soldier serving in the U.S. Army.In six years of service and counting,I have witnessed different instances of pure ignorance displayed by misogynistic and chauvinistic males.I have also had the pleasure of serving with thoughtful,respectful,and caring men whom I thought of as brothers and father figures.I spent a year in Iraq with both types of men,with what boils down to as the ones to fear and the ones to trust.The bottom line is that every person and woman's experience in the military is going to be a mixture of good and bad.People will be taken advantage of,no matter what gender and race, and that is a sorry state of affairs.However,I would hate to think that any civilian who reads this book will think the absolute worst of the military and the respectful population within who treat their sisters-in-arms like family.This book failed to highlight some of the exciting,valuable,educational,and successful careers of women in the military who have pulled their own weight and earned the respect of their peers.I am proud of my military service and my accomplishments during my career.I certainly have sympathy for the sad and disgusting situations these women have been put through but this book doesn't do any justice for the majority of the women who have or continue to serve honorably in the military.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Torie

    Second perhaps only to The New Jim Crow, this is the most important book I've read in the last 5, maybe 10 years. First of all, I read most of this book in one sitting. It's absolutely engrossing. She lets the women speak for themselves about their experiences--largely negative--in the armed forces. Their stories run the gamut of sexual abuse, racism, sexism, manipulative recruiters, and the many, MANY failures of the Iraq War. They're stories that need to be heard. A lot of reviews here say that Second perhaps only to The New Jim Crow, this is the most important book I've read in the last 5, maybe 10 years. First of all, I read most of this book in one sitting. It's absolutely engrossing. She lets the women speak for themselves about their experiences--largely negative--in the armed forces. Their stories run the gamut of sexual abuse, racism, sexism, manipulative recruiters, and the many, MANY failures of the Iraq War. They're stories that need to be heard. A lot of reviews here say that the book is "too negative" and that it wasn't X soldier's experience. Well great. I'm glad to hear that. But the statistics speak for themselves: 1/3 women in the military are victims of rape and sexual assault, and the sexism and racism discussed is systemic, even if an individual doesn't experience it. I think this is a must-read for anyone interested in why women go to war, what happens when they do, and where they're left by our government when they come home, forever changed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    Despite the fact, this book is about women serving in Iraq, many of its issues are issues of ALL soldiers serving there. It addresses the issues of sexual harrasment, asssault and rape of soldiers by soldiers. A place where women are not supposed to be in combat situations but are. A place were KBR provides soldiers with inadequate equipment or other supplies. Where recruiters make promises to young, poor high school students that they are not obligated to keep. By telling the stories of these wo Despite the fact, this book is about women serving in Iraq, many of its issues are issues of ALL soldiers serving there. It addresses the issues of sexual harrasment, asssault and rape of soldiers by soldiers. A place where women are not supposed to be in combat situations but are. A place were KBR provides soldiers with inadequate equipment or other supplies. Where recruiters make promises to young, poor high school students that they are not obligated to keep. By telling the stories of these women, the author tells the story of the military's strengths and weaknesses. And how some things really need to change. And though I knew some of these issues vaguely, these stories were compelling and made we want to know more about how our government and the DOD treat those who are laying their lives on the line for our country. And sometimes it is an ugly tale.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    This is a well documented and disturbing book about the physical, sexual and emotional abuses including rapes that are occuring to the women serving in the military in Iraq. It also documents the total lack of medical and counseling services available to them through the Veterans Administration on their return to the United States. It exposes the military's weaknesses in the war in Iraq as well as their discrimination and dishonest recruting policies to fill its 'manpower' needs with women. A mu This is a well documented and disturbing book about the physical, sexual and emotional abuses including rapes that are occuring to the women serving in the military in Iraq. It also documents the total lack of medical and counseling services available to them through the Veterans Administration on their return to the United States. It exposes the military's weaknesses in the war in Iraq as well as their discrimination and dishonest recruting policies to fill its 'manpower' needs with women. A must read for everyone. It moved me to write my Senators and the Presdient - as if that will do any good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Online

    BITE THE BULLET Amy Herdy Review of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq By Helen Benedict Beacon Press This dramatic statement against war in general and the Iraq war in particular starts with the book’s cover photo, an image that makes its own powerful commentary: A woman soldier stands rigidly, Army-khaki-clad and freshly lipsticked, the stars and stripes behind her and a distant, hardened look in her eye. The dichotomy is played out in the book again and again as women dep BITE THE BULLET Amy Herdy Review of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq By Helen Benedict Beacon Press This dramatic statement against war in general and the Iraq war in particular starts with the book’s cover photo, an image that makes its own powerful commentary: A woman soldier stands rigidly, Army-khaki-clad and freshly lipsticked, the stars and stripes behind her and a distant, hardened look in her eye. The dichotomy is played out in the book again and again as women deployed to Iraq must become fierce warriors in order to survive threats to their safety and souls. When they discover they are as much at risk from the men with whom they serve as they are from enemy fire, their disillusionment is first registered with the shock of abandonment, then with rage. “They tell us (after we hit the deck from an incoming mortar shell) that we shouldn’t walk alone at night on base. We, as in females,” recounts National Guard Staff Sgt. Liz O’Herrin, who served in Iraq in 2006. “Screw you, you deploy me here and tell me it’s not safe for me to walk alone to get a bite to eat because I’ll probably get raped by one of our own?” These servicewomen make the argument that true equality, not patriarchal protection, is what women on the front lines really need. “Don’t look at me like I’m your little sister,” Army Spc. Mickiela Montoya retorted to the men on her team, who fretted over her safety during an attack. “I’m a soldier, not a gender.” Whether the soldiers’ language is plainspoken or poetic, Helen Benedict’s book gives them a place to tell their stories. She reports that her subjects are haunted by the memories of desperate faces and maimed bodies, by the suffering of Iraqis they were ill-equipped to rescue: “They still couldn’t help with what the people needed most—the return of their sons, brothers and husbands; cures for their sick and deformed children; and peace.” It’s a daunting endeavor to take the U.S. government to task, and at no time is this more difficult than during a war. When the challenger’s weapon is the written word, each volley must be undeniably accurate, each phrase honed and aimed with care. Benedict makes some factual errors, and this reviewer disagrees with her definitions of sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite these glitches, The Lonely Soldier has strong merit as an account of women’s military experiences in this long and reckless war. --- AMY HERDY is coauthor of “Betrayal in the Ranks,” a 2003 Denver Post investigation into the military, and is now the student media adviser at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sanne

    This is not a nuanced book on all the possible experiences of women in the US military. It's not about the good, the bad and the ugly. It's about the bad and the ugly. This is a wake-up call to do something about the atrocious working conditions many women in the military face. Benedict interviewed many women and worked their experiences into this book. She chose five women to feature prominently, following their lives from signing up, to deployment to coming home again. She shows why these women This is not a nuanced book on all the possible experiences of women in the US military. It's not about the good, the bad and the ugly. It's about the bad and the ugly. This is a wake-up call to do something about the atrocious working conditions many women in the military face. Benedict interviewed many women and worked their experiences into this book. She chose five women to feature prominently, following their lives from signing up, to deployment to coming home again. She shows why these women joined as well as their backgrounds, what their experiences were and how it affected them. A horrifying read. You'd need to be able to rely on your comrades when in a warzone! If those very comrades are the ones sexually harassing and assaulting you, and undermining you because of your gender, you're fighting two battles. I came across Benedict's book after seeing her talk / workshop on youtube* while I was exploring oral history (got to love online lectures like that!). Her approach in this work is interesting. After interviewing the soldiers, she sat down to write their accounts using methods of fiction. This way, she's able to recreate the experiences; how they felt, what they smelled, saw and heard. This makes the book very easy to read. Instead of dry accounts, the stories of these women come alive. Benedict does not solely rely on the accounts of her witnesses. She has done her homework to be able to provide a larger picture. From time to time, she inserts background knowledge into the narrative. The women might not always have known why certain things were happening, but Benedict makes sure the reader understands by given the larger picture. Not only does this give an very readable account and plea to do something to change the situation, it is also a very well researched one. * She presents her findings of her book and discusses with the people present the different aspects of her work. Details not mentioned in the book, how and why she chose these five women as the main characters and why she chose this format for her book. There's another talk by her for her book Sand Queen in the series of videos on oral history by Columbia university, though I haven't watched it yet.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Theresa

    For my own sanity, I hope that this book represents a minority of women serving in the military. Benedict writes her book well, but I believe the book's biggest shortcoming is that she does not interview a single commissioned officer. I understand that this book was published last year, but there have been enormous gender strides recently among officers, and I wish Benedict had perhaps interviewed some who were recognized by their male counterparts instead of harassed to get another perspective. For my own sanity, I hope that this book represents a minority of women serving in the military. Benedict writes her book well, but I believe the book's biggest shortcoming is that she does not interview a single commissioned officer. I understand that this book was published last year, but there have been enormous gender strides recently among officers, and I wish Benedict had perhaps interviewed some who were recognized by their male counterparts instead of harassed to get another perspective. Dunwoody earned her fourth star in 2008, and this year, the two cadets at USMA who have earned Rhodes Scholarships are female. I would like to see if there exists a sense of unity between enlisted and officers female soldiers. The one female major whom Benedict mentions is hostile, and I think another difficult subject Benedict discusses well is the racial discrimination that soldiers can experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    I read this book while on my way to Iraq in 2010. I've been serving in the US Army for close to 18 yrs and have never experienced any of the multiple accounts of abuse, discrimination, harassment, etc this book depicts. Although I know those stories exist they have been very few and far in between among the soldiers I've cared for over the years. This book scared the crap out of me and had to stop reading towards the end. I'm happy to report that I had the most rewarding experience while deploye I read this book while on my way to Iraq in 2010. I've been serving in the US Army for close to 18 yrs and have never experienced any of the multiple accounts of abuse, discrimination, harassment, etc this book depicts. Although I know those stories exist they have been very few and far in between among the soldiers I've cared for over the years. This book scared the crap out of me and had to stop reading towards the end. I'm happy to report that I had the most rewarding experience while deployed working with men from all services. I was the only female in a group of at least 50 Sailors, Air force, Soldiers & Marines and I was respected by all. The military is not for everyone and discouraging kids to join due to someone else's experience is very unfair, after all, who will be the 1% that will continue to protect the other 99% of the population in this country?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Fantastic! An eye-opener of what happens not only just to women in the U.S. military but of how the military generally treats its soldiers. If you weren't against the War in Iraq before, you certainly will be after reading this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    E.P.

    If you still harbor any starry-eyed illusions about the Iraq war as a noble endeavor, or of the military as a welcoming place for women, this book will dispel them. Focusing largely on the experiences of a fairly diverse group (two white, one Mexican-American, one African-American, one Native American, all, of course, working class, all sergeants or lower) of 5 women, with additional side stories from other women, it describes a war that was characterized by incompetence and stunning callousness If you still harbor any starry-eyed illusions about the Iraq war as a noble endeavor, or of the military as a welcoming place for women, this book will dispel them. Focusing largely on the experiences of a fairly diverse group (two white, one Mexican-American, one African-American, one Native American, all, of course, working class, all sergeants or lower) of 5 women, with additional side stories from other women, it describes a war that was characterized by incompetence and stunning callousness, fought by women who were told they were too fragile and flakey to go into combat, but who were put into combat situations nonetheless--both against the "enemy" and against their own brothers-in-arms. Stories of women in the US military like to focus on back-patting feel-good tales of patriotic women who overcome obstacles, not least of which is their own femaleness, to be accepted as the equals of men and serve in elite units or the officer corps. Benedict's subjects, however, are mainly women who signed up for murky motives, like escaping an abusive family situation at home, and ended up in low-ranking, low-prestige positions. Several of them were reservists in the National Guard and had no expectation of ever being deployed in a war oversees, with the more idealistic among them hoping to help out during natural disasters and things like that, and the rest hoping to get career training and money for college. Instead what they got was lengthy deployments to a war they didn't believe in, an experience that left them physically and emotionally shattered, with their problems ignored and discounted upon their return home, since after all, women don't go into combat and aren't "real" soldiers. One could criticize this book for only showing the most negative side of the military life and women's experiences in it. All of the women Benedict features were subjected to extensive harassment, and some of them were raped by their own men. She does say that women's experiences vary tremendously depending on what environment they find themselves in, with the medical corps, for example, which is almost 40% female, a largely harassment-free zone and a comparatively welcoming place for women. These soldiers, however, most of whom were drivers and prison guards, were one of very women in their units, and found themselves sharing sleeping and bathroom facilities with their mainly hostile male "comrades," who mocked them and denigrated their abilities while assigning them to particularly dirty or dangerous tasks. The women are all surprised, in retrospect, at how accepting they were of this treatment: indeed, one of the more interesting if alarming points the book makes is how people are habituated to mistreatment, of themselves by others and of others by themselves, by their military training. Most of the women accept the dehumanization of boot camp and the terrible conditions they found themselves in, as well as the constant sexual harassment; the only thing that provokes real outrage is the racism that the women of color experience, although their indignation on their own behalf does not necessarily prevent them from tossing around racial slurs and treating the Iraqis exactly as they themselves do not want to be treated. Indeed, most of the women find themselves doing things they're not proud of, such as abusing prisoners or firing into crowds of civilians, even as, or maybe at times because, their male comrades tell them they can't be trusted to be tough enough to, say, shoot down or run over children. Several of the women struggle between their desire to protect children and to protect their comrades, a struggle that is made all the harder by the growing knowledge that their commitment to their comrades and the others in their squad or unit is entirely one-way: they see the male soldiers as brothers in arms, while the men see them as rape victims. The book jumps back and forth between different women's timelines, which at times could be confusing but makes it extremely readable, as the "action" cuts from soldier to soldier as their stories progress, ending with a set of suggestions for making the military less hostile for women. This is a monumental undertaking, because, as the author is at pains to point out, military culture is all about being a "no girls allowed" club. Some might even question whether the effort is worth it at all: should we be subjecting women to this brutalization and turning them into hardened killers? Do we maybe have enough of those already? But, as Benedict points out, the military is one of the few providers of opportunity in poor and rural areas, and is a path to power and influence in the upper echelons of the government. Denying women that is unfair to them and detrimental to the country. Furthermore, the comparative civilization of the more women-heavy branches such as the medical corps suggests that what is needed to improve conditions is to bring in more women, not fewer. Who knows? Maybe with enough women in positions of influence, the military might even start killing fewer children, which might actually allow the US to win a few "hearts and minds" battles after all.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melody Hill

    I read this a couple of weeks ago, and have been thinking about this book and writing this review. I couldn't put it down, but at the same time, it wasn't my favorite book. To begin with, the aythor writes with an obvious bias. She reveals this early in the book with inaccurate information and half truths. In one case, she complains that woman are not issued pants with their dress uniforms, only skirts. This just isn't true. She also talks about garrison caps that women wear with their uniforms I read this a couple of weeks ago, and have been thinking about this book and writing this review. I couldn't put it down, but at the same time, it wasn't my favorite book. To begin with, the aythor writes with an obvious bias. She reveals this early in the book with inaccurate information and half truths. In one case, she complains that woman are not issued pants with their dress uniforms, only skirts. This just isn't true. She also talks about garrison caps that women wear with their uniforms (rudely referred to as "c*** caps.) This is true, but what she fails to mention is that men have been wearing that cap as part of their uniform since WW!, and using the same pejorative nickname, Because of this bias that is so evident to me (because I spent 20 years in the Army), I also question her research method. Did she reach her conclusion first, and then find soldiers that fit a preconceived idea, or did she interview soldiers and find a common thread in some of their stories? She makes it sound as though women in the Army are miserable souls on a constant basis. While this may be true for some, and certainly the soldiers in her book, it is not a blanket truth. She does have one sentence in the book that alludes to this by saying that some women enjoy the Army, The book gave me a lot to think about, and I'm interested in hearing what veterans thought about it

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bianca Mogos

    Had to step back a bit from this book, as I’m battling anxiety myself, but my God, was it an interesting and heartbreaking read. Growing up in a family where military was a big part of our lives, I grew up respecting it and developed quite a passion for army-anything. And then I saw the documentary “The invisible war” and everything changed. That’s how I found out about this book too. The realities of being a woman soldier at war struck so hard. The disrespect, the trauma, the violence, the horre Had to step back a bit from this book, as I’m battling anxiety myself, but my God, was it an interesting and heartbreaking read. Growing up in a family where military was a big part of our lives, I grew up respecting it and developed quite a passion for army-anything. And then I saw the documentary “The invisible war” and everything changed. That’s how I found out about this book too. The realities of being a woman soldier at war struck so hard. The disrespect, the trauma, the violence, the horrendous things people have to do and the administration that does not give a fuck. How people’s lives are changed forever, after being promised a great future. The fact that rapes go very often unpunished. The fact that rape was regarded by some judge guy as “occupational hazard of being in the military” fthe movie). I can’t even. I’m sure many female soldiers out there had better experiences than what Mrs Benedict shows in this book. But it is just as true that horrendous experiences exist and I am very interested to see if anything has changed since the movie (2012) and the book (2009) were released.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Matty Smith

    Reading this in 2018, parts of this book may seem out-of-date but certainly still relevant. Benedict’s book is a gut wrenching reminder of what women in the military must overcome and the inequality that exists among soldiers. I only hope we do better with future generations of female soldiers.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Julian Montoya

    Worst book i ever read, all anyone has to do is ask helen benedict is she did any research? ..on you tube helen benedict claims mickela montoya was the reason she wrote the book, she doesn't even know mickiela montoya lik i know her!...i named her! She was born at ft. Hood texas!,i am her father !its on her birth certificate! The unit patch 13 supcom is from ft. Hood , but femenist attitude shames the military and many will claim it is a " rape culture" , the truth is mickiela montoya has a moth Worst book i ever read, all anyone has to do is ask helen benedict is she did any research? ..on you tube helen benedict claims mickela montoya was the reason she wrote the book, she doesn't even know mickiela montoya lik i know her!...i named her! She was born at ft. Hood texas!,i am her father !its on her birth certificate! The unit patch 13 supcom is from ft. Hood , but femenist attitude shames the military and many will claim it is a " rape culture" , the truth is mickiela montoya has a mother that went to san Gabriel high school,i graduated two year early and went to community college pcc for the summer, my family tree "ochoa family and montoya family" have many soldier that served this nation,my uncle roland ochoa was a first sgt and did three tours in viet-nam airborne infantry! My uncle louie ochoa was there when mickiela was named and born!his son my first cousin was a full bird colonel last time i spoke to him at my uncle rolands funeral! , i have family members that served in marine corps,navy, army...all active duty!..mickiela had a grand mother named "gloria ortiz -lopez", her first husband was elias ortiz mickielas natural grandfather, and richard lopez was gloria lopez second husband, Michelle was getting into trouble due to her premescuity i was told not because of her grandmother! Her grandmother loved her but was suffering from cancer, its sad how helen benedict mistreated or manipulated the mexican-americans culture!..i served with many soldiers and some female soldier's and i know honorable people that have broken hearts with how mickiela made her family look!her older sister moniece montoya was married to a navy man and knows she went to a private school (catholic school ) with mickiela...she also has a younger sister married and has a healthy relationship with her nino and her father!..the three sister spent the summer together and some of mickiela friends know she was not abused!...i know she was given a rental car and many times given money to celebrate her achievements with her friends...i sent her money often to new jersey to help her, and i love my grandchild nyla!..nyla spent much time with me!..mickiela spoke to me many times when this book was being written...i never thought she would speak like the military was about meeting a man to have sex with in iraq or to flirt?the army is an honorable organization! And men and women have served many years defending this country!the national gaurd is a part of the us armed forces and plays a vital role in the defense of this nation!..the California or bronx national gaurd had its mission , i can't believe the chaplian or officer's of the units allowed my daughter to have sex with her sgt while in iraq!..things do happen but "fratinization "!?...zzand Joseph? Has he made a noble effort to ask for my daughter's hand in marriage?but he made an effort to have sex with her?...the oath of the soldier is to defend the constitution and its people against all enemies both foreign and domestic! ...this book has harmed that effort! ..basic training i spoke to mickiela many times before she went and she chosemtfo ignore any information about nbc training or even topics about basic training! ...helen benedict did not research the truth and made my family name look un-patriotic! She made my culture look like perverts! And she does all she can to make others think the us army and it honorable history is the enemy of the nation!...helen benedict or followers of helen benedict the us armed forces is not the enemy and no secret war exist against the women of this nation!...congress declared who the us enemies are when they declared war!...i served with many soldiers that know my sorrows, my uncles and grandfather and cousins love God and country!...the chicano culture is an honorable culture and the us armed forces should not allow helen benedictmto ever write a book about the usa military!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liralen

    In 2005, army lieutenant Jennifer Dyer was threatened with prosecution for desertion because she refused to return to her post with an officer she had reported for raping her. In 2006, army specialist Suzanne Swift was court-martialed for desertion, demoted, and put in prison for a month for refusing to redeploy under a sergeant whom she had reported for repeatedly raping her. That same year, Cassandra Hernandez of the air force was charged with indecent behavior after she reported being gang-ra In 2005, army lieutenant Jennifer Dyer was threatened with prosecution for desertion because she refused to return to her post with an officer she had reported for raping her. In 2006, army specialist Suzanne Swift was court-martialed for desertion, demoted, and put in prison for a month for refusing to redeploy under a sergeant whom she had reported for repeatedly raping her. That same year, Cassandra Hernandez of the air force was charged with indecent behavior after she reported being gang-raped by three comrades, which amounted to accusing her of her own assault. (83) Benedict follows five women through this book, all of whom had—at best—complicated relationships with the U.S. military. They all enlisted and all served in Iraq; none of them came out unscathed. I've read some accounts of how hard it can be to be a woman in the military, but the picture Benedict paints is one of the most raw I've seen: constant sexual harassment, constant harassment in general, just about every -ism you can think of. But I wished, sometimes, for a broader view. Not that I doubt any of these women's stories, or the overall statistics Benedict cites—but I was sometimes left feeling as though I had a smaller piece of the story than I wanted. With the five women she focused on, there's diversity in terms of racial economic background, but I'd have loved to hear in depth about the experience of a commissioned officer too, for example. Similar? Better? Worse? Still, there's fascinating stuff here. Again, Benedict doesn't hold back in terms of criticising military culture, and there's a lot of discussion about direct and indirect racism. Take this: "My tour in Iraq was a real eye opener for me because my biggest enemy there was my own company," she [Eli PaintedCrow, who is Native American] said with quiet intensity. "Officers would brief us by saying, 'It's Indian country out there, go get 'em!' I found that very shocking. It would make me wonder: If this is Indian country, perhaps I'm on the wrong side'" (159). But then you also get comments from some of the other women: I asked Mickiela if she was frightened when she had to shoot back. "No, but sometimes I'd be scared when we were getting attacked. I would envision these crazy Iraqi guys coming like an Indian or something" (173). And, oh gosh, I wish that hadn't gone by without comment in the book. The same is true when Benedict talks about her subjects' attitude toward Iraqis; it felt like she was trying hard to ask all the right questions—or the hard questions, if those are the same—but also tread carefully, and the balance was usually but not always there. Food for thought. Probably best in conjunction with a lot of other reading. A couple bits and pieces: In World War II, only 15–20 percent of soldiers were shooing to kill; most were either deliberately missing or not shooting at all. Military historians decided this was because no amount of conventional drill could overcome a human being's revulsion toward murdering his own kind, even in the face of life-threatening danger to himself or his comrades. What was needed was training that would condition soldiers to kill reflexively and dispassionately. (49) Both male and female soldiers commonly blame the prevalence of rape and sexual assault by soldiers in Iraq on the lack of prostitutes, an idea not exactly discouraged by the command. Even after forty years of research debunking the notion that rape is caused by pent-up lust, the military still promotes it, for to do so is useful: it keeps women fearful and blames them for provoking rape, thus letting men off the hook. (167)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jcothron

    Benedict, Helen. The lonely soldier: the private war of women serving in Iraq. (Boston: Beacon Press, c2009): 264 p. Includes extensive bibliographic notes and index. Ages 15-up. Since the passage of the infamous “No Child Left Behind” legislation, U.S. military recruiters have legally mandated access to personal information on all high school students attending schools which receive federal funds. Although it is legal for parents to opt out of having their children included, most are not aware o Benedict, Helen. The lonely soldier: the private war of women serving in Iraq. (Boston: Beacon Press, c2009): 264 p. Includes extensive bibliographic notes and index. Ages 15-up. Since the passage of the infamous “No Child Left Behind” legislation, U.S. military recruiters have legally mandated access to personal information on all high school students attending schools which receive federal funds. Although it is legal for parents to opt out of having their children included, most are not aware of the choice. Military recruiters may guarantee education, training, deployment to potential recruits, but most do not explain that the military is not required to honor any part of the contract. Columbia University journalism professor Helen Benedict distills the experience of women soldiers serving in Iraq through the stories of 5 women, from their early decisions to join the military, through recruitment, basic training, deployment, conditions under combat, and life after serving in Iraq. Problems that each woman found included sexual assault/harassment/rape by fellow U.S. soldiers of all ranks, brainwashing, homophobia, lack of equipment, lack of awareness of women’s medical needs throughout the military, inadequate planning and infrastructure for veteran’s medical and mental health needs. Benedict further explains the political background which led to the war, the results of outsourcing essential military supplies and services, the culture of misogyny and homophobia throughout the U.S. military, I am convinced that this book should be held by all public, high school and middle school libraries in the United States. In fact, military recruiters ought to be mandated to give copies to all potential recruits.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Something is seriously wrong if an officer responsible for sexual assault prevention programs is arrested for sexual battery. WTF?!? A few days ago a New York Times Article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Sarah Wheaton made me want to know how women are treated in the military and I found Helen Benedict's book. The NY Times article describes results of the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2012. A confidential survey was sent to 108,000 active-duty serv Something is seriously wrong if an officer responsible for sexual assault prevention programs is arrested for sexual battery. WTF?!? A few days ago a New York Times Article by Jennifer Steinhauer and Sarah Wheaton made me want to know how women are treated in the military and I found Helen Benedict's book. The NY Times article describes results of the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military Fiscal Year 2012. A confidential survey was sent to 108,000 active-duty service members. Results estimate 26,000 were sexually assaulted last year. Helen Benedict interviewed many veterans and focuses her book on five women. The book isn't anti-military. The military culture, attitudes, and responses to sexual assaults are terrible. Women are in danger of attacks from fellow soldiers. Women are raped and too scared or unable to report it. They're also intimidated, reprimanded, denied promotions, and assigned more dangerous tasks if they deny sexual advances from senior officers. The problem is systematic. The victims end up with PTSD and inadequate medical treatment. They're also denied benefits and medical care after they return home. This is no way to treat women who serve our country. http://catoverlord.blogspot.com/2013/...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jarrod

    All right. Wow. This book was something else. Helen Benedict totally comes across as a,(and I don't like using this term), 'manhater'. She doesn't come right out and say anything that distinguishes her as a manhater, but subtle comments and choices of words paint a whispering message to me as such, (but maybe it is just me though). The lack of fairness and balance of views in this book irritated me. She couldn't find any women that didn't get completely shitted on as much as everyone else? Or le All right. Wow. This book was something else. Helen Benedict totally comes across as a,(and I don't like using this term), 'manhater'. She doesn't come right out and say anything that distinguishes her as a manhater, but subtle comments and choices of words paint a whispering message to me as such, (but maybe it is just me though). The lack of fairness and balance of views in this book irritated me. She couldn't find any women that didn't get completely shitted on as much as everyone else? Or less? I do not like how she chose the five women, (two of them she discovered at a Veterans Against the War Rally!), which just of course directed the book to an anti-war/military direction. It is as though she wrote this book just to honk me off. Ha ha. Now the positive! Helen Benedict certainly did her research and when she made a claim, she had the meat at the back of the book to give it weight. I learned a thing or two from this book, that is for sure. All in all, I have read stronger literature against men, (The SCUM Manifesto), so this didn't faze me that much. But the book was riddled with facts that are hard to argue with, and certainly would make one think a little harder before they join the American Military.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    When I heard Helen Benedict speak at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference about this book, I and others got chills as she described the conditions under which some female soldiers in Iraq had to work. In Lonely Soldier, Benedict specifically follows the stories of five female soldiers before, during, and after the most recent war in Iraq. In a book report I wrote about Lonely Soldier for a class, I noted Benedict's use of narrative and dialogue and how they help thrust readers into vivid s When I heard Helen Benedict speak at the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference about this book, I and others got chills as she described the conditions under which some female soldiers in Iraq had to work. In Lonely Soldier, Benedict specifically follows the stories of five female soldiers before, during, and after the most recent war in Iraq. In a book report I wrote about Lonely Soldier for a class, I noted Benedict's use of narrative and dialogue and how they help thrust readers into vivid scenes playing out in these women's lives. She also injects herself into the story as she describes interviews with the soldiers, and she inserts her observations. As I wrote in my report, this book does strike an anti-Iraq War tone, but it also does an important job in ripping back the curtain that shrouded these women's "private wars" and exposes them. And Benedict goes further than just uncovering the problems, she also offers recommendations at the close of the book to help solve them. I would definitely recommend it to others.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Cee

    Wow this book was very tough to read. It was recommended as a follow up to the documentary The Invisible War. The documentary is about sexual assault, whereas the The Lonely Soldier talks about multiple aspects of being a female soldier in the recent wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. It gives profiles of five women, with different personality types and backgrounds, that struggled with being a parent during and after war, with seeking or having relationships during the war, with being undervalue Wow this book was very tough to read. It was recommended as a follow up to the documentary The Invisible War. The documentary is about sexual assault, whereas the The Lonely Soldier talks about multiple aspects of being a female soldier in the recent wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. It gives profiles of five women, with different personality types and backgrounds, that struggled with being a parent during and after war, with seeking or having relationships during the war, with being undervalued as a soldier, and with the guilt of either surviving war or helping to kill. So some of the aspects are shared with men but have slight nuances. But being a female soldier,it was of great interest to me. The first half of the book, I couldn't put it down. As I got further into their stories, I had to put it down often. Finally finished it today. The author pulls no punches and has great animosity towards the military's role in these women's situations, so be prepared for that.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    Based on a collection of interviews with women veterans, this is a sort of oral history of the first part of the Iraq War. It's not an easy read -- it deals with sexual assault and every other PTSD trigger you can think of, as well as mistreatment of prisoners and civilians, and enraging levels of incompetence corruption, and flat-out evil by the people running the war. I had to put this down in the middle and didn't come back to it for almost a year. I am glad I read it, though; Benedict strikes Based on a collection of interviews with women veterans, this is a sort of oral history of the first part of the Iraq War. It's not an easy read -- it deals with sexual assault and every other PTSD trigger you can think of, as well as mistreatment of prisoners and civilians, and enraging levels of incompetence corruption, and flat-out evil by the people running the war. I had to put this down in the middle and didn't come back to it for almost a year. I am glad I read it, though; Benedict strikes the right balance of telling these women's individual stories -- giving their viewpoints and respecting their experiences -- with telling how they fit into the larger context of the modern US military overall, and Iraq in particular.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    After reading this book I am profoundly grateful that I had options in life aside from joining the United States military. While I was aware of the problems the military has with sexual assault from watching the documentary The Invisible War I was not aware of how bad the military health care system is or how unresponsive it is to women's health needs. I was also appalled by the issue of negligence on the part of Kellogg Brown and Root and other private contractors. They would drive empty convoy After reading this book I am profoundly grateful that I had options in life aside from joining the United States military. While I was aware of the problems the military has with sexual assault from watching the documentary The Invisible War I was not aware of how bad the military health care system is or how unresponsive it is to women's health needs. I was also appalled by the issue of negligence on the part of Kellogg Brown and Root and other private contractors. They would drive empty convoys that the soldiers had to escort because they wanted to bill the government extra and they failed to supply enough food and water. In a country that spends as much money as we do on defense there has to be a better way!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Fiorella Cecilia

    The book was ok, really liked the background stories of some of the soldiers. It made me mad some of the higher ups who were racist and show me how much we had improved the quality of life of the soldiers since the first deployments that we had. However I felt that she intentionally looked for the most sad and angry stories, there were very few short mentions of ok stories. Yes, I know that the live of a female soldier is a bit harder because we serve in a man's world but come on! Also I wish th The book was ok, really liked the background stories of some of the soldiers. It made me mad some of the higher ups who were racist and show me how much we had improved the quality of life of the soldiers since the first deployments that we had. However I felt that she intentionally looked for the most sad and angry stories, there were very few short mentions of ok stories. Yes, I know that the live of a female soldier is a bit harder because we serve in a man's world but come on! Also I wish the hispanic girl that had her baby Makayla, had realize how hard was going to be to raise a child as a single mother and not allow herself to get pregnant again.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Niki

    So well written - I can't say it was an easy read, even though I read it non stop in 3 hours. It shines a light on how women are being treated in the military, starting from recruiters who rape prospective recruits to what happens after the women return home. The shocking revelations are not only in how women are completely disrespected and treated as sex objects and second class citizens, but how our country has treated the soldiers in Iraq. There is no political party affiliation, but instead So well written - I can't say it was an easy read, even though I read it non stop in 3 hours. It shines a light on how women are being treated in the military, starting from recruiters who rape prospective recruits to what happens after the women return home. The shocking revelations are not only in how women are completely disrespected and treated as sex objects and second class citizens, but how our country has treated the soldiers in Iraq. There is no political party affiliation, but instead just disbelief that these are true case studies - and it is probably not going to stop any time soon.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Critical Mas

    These are the stories of some of the most resilient women who've served in combat operations in Iraq. Helen Benedict shed some much needed light on a growing problem which the US Military, the government and the media have all been complacent. No one wants to talk about the private wars of an increasing number of women in the military--ones against their own comrades. I'd recommend this book to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with military service and those who've only been exposed to stor These are the stories of some of the most resilient women who've served in combat operations in Iraq. Helen Benedict shed some much needed light on a growing problem which the US Military, the government and the media have all been complacent. No one wants to talk about the private wars of an increasing number of women in the military--ones against their own comrades. I'd recommend this book to everyone, especially those unfamiliar with military service and those who've only been exposed to stories of battlefield bravery.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    This book stopped my reading in its tracks because I had such a hard time getting through it. It is well written but extremely depressing as it discusses both how badly women are treated by their fellow soldiers in the military and the horrors of the Iraq War. It was very eye-opening and convinced me that I should do everything I can to keep my children from ever joining, especially if we end up at war. I also felt like it was unrelentingly negative. Were there no women who had anything good to This book stopped my reading in its tracks because I had such a hard time getting through it. It is well written but extremely depressing as it discusses both how badly women are treated by their fellow soldiers in the military and the horrors of the Iraq War. It was very eye-opening and convinced me that I should do everything I can to keep my children from ever joining, especially if we end up at war. I also felt like it was unrelentingly negative. Were there no women who had anything good to say?

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hali

    This is an interesting book about women in the military. However, it only seems to have one viewpoint, that the war in Iraq is unnecessary. Benedict has stated that the viewpoints brought out in the book were common among the female soldiers which she interviewed. This is a book which will hopefully help you rethink and question what the media, and our leaders have been telling us. Women in the military have it a lot harder than I was aware of!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex Flynn

    A great book that really opened my eyes to the experience of women in the military over the past years. It gives great insight into the average soldiers experience, and the additional burden by women carried by being in a minority and often victimized by their own comrades. It also offers many solutions and things one can do to help, which makes it feel like a much more positive experience than it would otherwise. I almost feel compelled to get involved somehow. I highly recommend this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Biggs

    I struggle with how to rate this book, the first half was definitely a 4, but 20% through it became redundant and seemed to lose focus. It was fascinating to read the experiences soldiers had in Iraq early on and then later on the war. What I didn't enjoy was the mundane details of the entire deployment, I felt the book could use some editing. Overall, I'm glad I read it. The book was listed for a feminist book club I joined, I would say it was far more political than feminist.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    A very interesting book and eye opening. One thing to remember though is that I wouldn't say that these expierences are the majority. I've been in 10 yrs and have never had to deal with some of the crap these women had to go through, I think that maybe mostly because I joined the Air Force, the Marines and Army are still very male orientated.

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