The Corner

An Army of Jessicas & Mother’s Day

The only coverage I find of her story is in that Texas paper (she’s from Fort Hood). I can’t help but think of Kate’s cover piece in the most recent issue of NR when I read about Sgt. Grant. She wasn’t in Iraq, but one wonders if her maintenance unit was headed there.

From “An Army of Jessicas”:

[T]here are considerations just as important–indeed, that strike closer to home–than military readiness. When an unprecedented number of women–including single mothers and dual military couples–were deployed to Desert Storm in 1991, a bill was introduced in Congress to prohibit the deployment of parents whose children risked being orphaned. An AP poll at the time found that 64 percent of the public agreed that it was “unacceptable for the United States to send women with young children to the war zone.” The war ended before Congress acted, but the public was clearly concerned about the unequal sacrifice faced by the 80,000 children with a single parent, or both parents, in the service. Single custodial parents in the military are disproportionately female, and the public clearly saw a distinction between the sacrifices of mothers and the sacrifices of fathers. Someone must fight our wars, so fathers will inevitably be at risk; but must young mothers be exposed to such danger?

Although single custodial parents are not eligible to enlist, once they are in uniform generous subsidies and accommodating assignment policies can encourage single parenthood. In Ground Zero: The Gender Wars in the Military (1997), feminist author Linda Bird Francke approvingly noted that the military’s family benefits make the services “a particular mecca for single parents.” In 1989, the Navy had twice as many single parents, proportionately, as the civilian population. Although one study found that the re-enlistment rate for women dropped by 69 percent once they became mothers, for many vulnerable single mothers the military provides a tempting safety net of benefits, including health care and housing.

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