AJN On the Cover
On our cover this month, U.S. Air Force First Lieutenant Georganne Hassell is photographed during a presence patrol in Qalat City in southern Afghanistan. First Lieutenant Hassell, an informations operations officer with Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul, is one of the more than 280,000 women deployed during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who, until recently, had been restricted from officially holding combat positions. This past January, then defense secretary Leon Panetta announced a lifting of the military's ban on women in combat, largely owing to a push for greater gender equality from within the military itself.
According to a 2011 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs report, America's Women Veterans: Military Service History and VA Benefit Utilization Statistics, in 2009 8% of U.S. veterans were women, and this number is expected to rise. By 2035, the report estimates, women will make up 15% of all living U.S. veterans. And as more women serve in combat positions, there will be new concerns regarding their health, from maternity care and disease management to mammograms and other preventive care. In addition, sexual assault remains a persistent problem for women in the military. Recently released results of a 2011 Pentagon health survey show that one in five women in the military say they were victims of unwanted sexual assault. For more on the health issues of women troops and women veterans, see this month's editorial, “To Be Young, Female, and at War,” and the CE feature “Enhancing Veteran-Centered Care: A Guide for Nurses in Non-VA Settings.” — Michael Fergenson, senior editorial coordinator