Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Women in the Military (Including Serving on Subs)

The novel LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS that I wrote with my husband features the first woman serving on a sub.

When Mitch and I originally wrote the story, women were not yet serving on subs in the U.S. Navy. So we came up with a story reason for LCDR Mollie Sanders to be the first woman.

On May 29, 2012, the White House's Council on Women and Girls posted Brad Cooper's article “Women Chart a New Course Onboard U.S. Navy Submarines”:
In 2009, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced that for the first time in Navy history, women would be assigned to serve aboard Navy submarines.

Yesterday, the first contingent of 24 women who completed the Navy’s nuclear submarine program met with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House. They were joined by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and the Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mark Ferguson.

Now I understand that not everyone knows that women are now serving on U.S. subs. So when LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS was free for one day on Amazon thanks to the KDP Select program, I did not get overly upset when I got this message on Facebook from a man about the novel:
This really stretches reality. Women have made great advances in the military, but submarine duty isn't among them.
I sent back this Facebook message:
When Mitch and I wrote the story women weren't yet on U.S. subs and that is part of the point of the novel. BUT ... women are now on U.S. subs. See this article
And the man actually thanked me for “correcting” him.

He did go on to wonder how billeting would be arranged on the sub, which Mitch and I deal with in our fiction story. (Click here to buy LT. COMMANDER MOLLIE SANDERS on Amazon now if you are interested in this story.)

On the same day I read the Military Times news story “Female military members sue to serve in combat” by Paul Elias of the Associated Press

To summarize the article, women are suing because, without access to certain combat positions, their chances for promotion are hindered.
[M]ore than 144 female troops have been killed and more than 860 have been wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan since the wars began, according to Pentagon statistics. Roughly 20,000 of the 205,000 service members currently serving in Afghanistan are women.
The article goes on to say that the lawsuit “alleges that women are already serving unofficially in combat units. Air National Guard Major Mary Jennings Hegar sustained shrapnel wounds in 2009 when she exchanged fire on the ground in Afghanistan after her Medevac helicopter was shot down.” (She received a Purple Heart medal for her injuries.)

Read the entire Military Times article (for which Associated Press writers Julie Watson and Lolita C. Baldor contributed).

In conclusion, it's a brave new world for women serving in the U.S. military.


Phyllis Zimbler Miller is a former military spouse as well as the author of fiction and nonfiction books/ebooks, including the military fiction MRS. LIEUTENANT: A Sharon Gold Novel and the cozy mystery CAST THE FIRST STONE with a subplot of non-combat trauma PTSD.

Click here to visit her Amazon author page at

She also has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company

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