16,000 Single Moms Serving in Iraq
Click here to read this important story by the Washington Post's Donna St. George:
When war started in Iraq, a generation of U.S. women became involved as never before-- in a wider-than-ever array of jobs, for long deployments, in a conflict with daily bloodshed. More than 155,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Among their ranks are more than 16,000 single mothers, according to the Pentagon, a number that military experts say is unprecedented.
How these women have coped and how their children are managing have gone little-noticed as the war stretches across a fourth year.
"It has to be one of the hardest things that a mom and her children have to go through," said Steven Mintz, a University of Houston professor with an expertise in family life. "You can't cuddle a young child over the phone, and you can't cuddle a child through e-mail."
In the military, parental status is not a barrier to serving in a war. All deploy when the call comes -- single mothers, single fathers, married couples -- relying on a "family-care plan" that designates a caregiver for children when parents are gone.
The thinking is that a soldier is a soldier. "Everyone trains to a standard of readiness and must be able to be mobilized," said Lt. Col. Mike Milord of the National Guard Bureau.