Helen Benedict, author of the new book The Lonely Soldier, believes strongly that the U.S. military has an obligation to do far, far better by the women who join its ranks.
As we recently pointed out, there have been far too many stories of rape, domestic violence and sexual assault perpetrated on female soldiers and civilian contractors abroad and even here at home. Benedict's incredible book follows 5 soldiers of varying age, ethnicities, politics, education backgrounds and reasons for joining up as they join the military, find out they're going to Iraq, get deployed and return home where everything seems different and help is far from just a phone call away. But she's also got statistics, history, supporting interviews and a ton of empathy to add to the stories Mickiela Montoya, Jennifer Spranger, Abbie Pickett, Terris Dewalt-Johnson and Eli PaintedCrow have to tell about their disparate-yet-similar stories of being a woman in the military and a war zone. In an excerpt running in The Nation today, she says about her subjects: