Sunday, April 5, 2009


The Lonely Soldier:  The Private War of Women Serving in Iraj.

  by Helen Benedict.



Monday, April 6, 2009. 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
AT the American Friends Service Committee
IN the ground floor conference room.
634 South Spring Street (DOWNTOWN LA)
Los Angeles, California


  1. Helen Benedict will discuss her new book, The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq. Also speaking will be Mickiela Montoya, one of five women veterans of the Iraq War whose stories provide the focus of the book.

    Since March of 2003, more than 160,500 women have served in the war in Iraq. More women have fought and died during this war than in any other since WWII, yet they still only account for one in ten soldiers. Many find themselves in virtual isolation among men. This seclusion, combined with the military's history of gender discrimination and the uniquely challenging conditions in Iraq, has resulted in a mounting epidemic of sexual abuse, physical degeneration, and emotional distress among many female soldiers.

    Now in The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, Helen Benedict explores the lives of these soldiers, following their stories from enlistment, through service, and back home again. A professor of journalism at Columbia University who has written extensively on women, race, and justice, Benedict interviewed 40 soldiers and veterans about their experiences in the military, specifically in Iraq. Through their first-hand accounts, she finds that while all of these women risk their lives each day, many are forced to wage a second war in secret, "against an enemy dressed in the same uniform."

    The Lonely Soldier centers on the stories of five courageous and diverse women who returned from war at very different stages of their lives:
    • Mickiela Montoya is a Mexican-American woman who, at twenty-one years old, is just one year out of her tour in Iraq. Pregnant and living with her grandmother, she finds herself back in the same California town she was trying to escape when she first enlisted.
    • Eli PaintedCrow, who felt strong cultural ties to the military because of her Native American heritage, is forty-six and recently retired from a twenty-two-year career in the army. Struggling with post-traumatic-stress, she is finding it difficult to get the help she needs.
    • Jennifer Spranger had to leave Iraq for medical reasons, and has returned to her working-class hometown in the Midwest. But at just twenty-three, she is suffering from severe physical and emotional traumas that may be with her for life.
    • Terris Dewalt-Johnson is thirty-seven and a sixteen-year veteran in the Army Reserve. An African-American mother of four, she completed a difficult tour in Iraq only to find that the war has changed her in ways even she can’t understand.
    • Abbie Pickett is twenty-four and has been home from the war for nearly three years. Originally from Wisconsin, she is studying in London and still struggling to get her life back.

    Each woman has a unique story to tell, but their experiences are rooted in the same injustices. Every day they put their lives on the line for their country and their fellow soldiers, but what they received in return has been, until now, unspeakable. Through their stories, Benedict reveals how they face the complexities of war while struggling every day with issues of misogyny, class, race, homophobia, sexism, and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder. Benedict also exposes abuses by military recruiters, the dangers of high risk vaccinations, inadequate training and resources for soldiers fighting abroad, contaminated and unsanitary conditions, the lack of benefits for veterans, and increasing incidents of rape --with as many as one in three female soldiers serving in Iraq being sexually assaulted by their own comrades.

    Weaving together the poignant and often grueling accounts of the war in Iraq, Benedict offers new insight into the lives of women in the military, before, during, and after the war. The book also features a list of resources available for veterans in need of support, and includes suggestions from Benedict and her subjects on how to improve conditions for women in the military. "Women have always met with hostility when they first tried to enter male domains, whether as voters or police officers, firefighters or politicians, and the answer has never been to give up, but to stay and fight for reform until the culture changes and accepts them."

    Event is free.


    joining the military is a choice, like joining the kkk. there is no draft. i feel no pity for soldiers who suffer. orders no longer come from others they come from within,like an alcoholic who has no one to blame but himself. the books that are post facto written seem like a revelation to these idiots, but i for one, knew when i was 2 years old, that being a part of the machinery to kill others was absolutely insane. it takes going to war and being raped or seeing pictures of those you've slaughtered to learn this?
    so let's assuage our guilt, write a book, make a bunch of $ and drown our conscious with the notion that we've changed. a hardened response from me i suppose, but wht we need are no soldiers, not apologetic ones.