Invisible Women: Junior Enlisted Army Wives


The voices of three women convey the dilemmas faced by many young families in the armed services.

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Invisible Women: Junior Enlisted Army Wives

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The voices of three women convey the dilemmas faced by many young families in the armed services.

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Editorial Reviews
An insightful look into the lives of enlisted Army wives...A compilation of extensive research and an excellent sociological study.
Air Force Times
Three women with one thing in common....Their stories paint a picture of the concerns of many junior enlisted families.
National Military Family Association
The stories provide insight into the experiences and attitudes of other junior enlisted families.
National Journal
Invisible Women confronts an issue crucial to military morale and readiness....this slim paperback illuminates not only policy, but humanity as well.
Midwest Book Review
...highly recommended reading for anyone considering family life within the context of military service, women's studies groups, and military life reference collections.
Washington Times
Invisible Women is an objective, balanced and thoughtful book portraying the real lives of young enlisted families.
Feminist Academic Press Column
There are many women who support the military community whose lives and work go virtually unnoticed--wives of military personnel. Invisible Women addresses this issue.
From The Critics
In Invisible Women: Junior Enlisted Army Wives, Margaret Harrell reveals a surprising and candid revelation about the lives of junior enlisted Army wives based on interviews with hundreds of spouses, Army Personnel, and others in the military community. Three specific and representative women give voice to the dilemmas commonly confronting junior enlisted families. The informative text blends humor and pathos as these young women speak of the challenges of youth, lack of education, financial difficulties, distance from husbands and families, and being "invisible" within a large military bureaucracy. Invisible Women is highly recommended reading for anyone considering family life within the context of military service, women's studies groups, and military life reference collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833028808
  • Publisher: Rand Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Pages: 142
  • Lexile: 1040L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.32 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Invisible Women

Junior Enlisted Army Wives
By Margaret C. Harrell

Rand Corporation

Copyright © 2001 Margaret C. Harrell
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780833028808


In the best of circumstances, military manpower policy is crafted by policymakers with input from military personnel managers, analysts, and military leadership with an in-depth understanding of the life experiences and views of junior enlisted personnel. It is plausible to expect that some policymakers attribute the attitudes and experiences of these young soldiers to particular features, such as youth or lack of advanced education, and thus believe themselves able to empathize with this population group by recalling their own parallel life experiences. However, this approach oversimplifies the life experiences of these families and neglects the reality that most policymakers and professional managers have never experienced the compendium of problems these couples face, such as youth, lack of education, financial difficulties, emotional and physical distance from extended family, and invisibility in a large bureaucracy.

At the center of this book are the personal stories of three junior enlisted spouses, told in their own voices and selected to emphasize the dilemmas numerous enlisted families face. The stories provide insight into the experiences and attitudes of some junior enlisted families. Those who live a military lifestyle-at any pay grade-will find these stories both useful and engaging. Some junior enlisted personnel and their spouses will recognize themselves in these stories, and others in the military community will gain a better understanding of problems they may have seen. Additionally, these insights help provide some human context for official statistics and should be of interest to the military leadership; personnel managers; analysts; and policymakers involved in the recruiting, retention, and management of junior enlisted personnel and their families, as well as to Congress and the media.

These stories were excerpted from a long series of interviews conducted during research for a dissertation that addressed the roles and experiences of Army spouses. This research included 105 recorded and transcribed interviews with military spouses, as well as less formal interviews and discussions with military personnel, spouses, and other individuals in the military community. The author also spoke with numerous other spouses and soldiers during Enlisted Spouses Club meetings, Officers' Spouses Club meetings, visits to Army Community Services facilities, and various other gatherings. This research also included an extensive review of the archives of local military and civilian newspapers.

The dissertation research was supported in part by the University of Virginia's Center for Children, Families, and the Law; the National Science Foundation; RAND; and the Forces and Resources Policy Center of RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Commands, and the defense agencies. While the research was not part of a RAND project and was not funded through the Department of Defense, the Army officially acknowledged it and enabled it to occur. At each of the research locations, the author was formally acknowledged by the local military leadership and was approved for interviews and discussions with military personnel, civilian Department of Defense employees, and military dependents. While the research was not part of a RAND project and was not funded through the Department of Defense, the Army facilitated the interviews and discussions with military personnel, civilian Department of Defense employees, and military dependents.


Excerpted from Invisible Women by Margaret C. Harrell Copyright © 2001 by Margaret C. Harrell. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents


Chapter One: Introduction

Background of the Research
Why the Army?
A Word About Locations
Selection and Description of Research Locations
Selection of a Unit at the Research Locations
Spouse Interviews
Selecting and Interviewing Spouses
Organization of This Book
Chapter Two: Dana's Story

Her Background
Relationship with Family
Family Plans
Financial Issues
Career Ambition and Current Work
His Future in the Military
Family Support Group
Rank Among the Spouses
Army Policy on Families
Household Responsibilities
Her Summary
Chapter Three: Jennifer's Story
Her Background
A New Army Wife
Their Relationship
Friendships and Family Support Group
Her Future
Financial Issues
Her Summary
Chapter Four: Toni's Story
Her Background
Their Relationship
Why He Joined the Army
Off to Basic Training
Welcome to Ft. Stewart
Finding a Home
Getting Busted
Financial Issues
Her Pregnancies
Family Relationship
Her Friends
Problems in the Unit
Family Support Group
She Has an Influence
Her Summary
Chapter Five: Conclusion
Oversion of Dana's Experience
Overview of Jennifer's Experience
Overview of Toni's Experience
Stereotypical Women?
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2008

    A total disappointment!

    I am an army wife of an enlisted soldier and I must say that in no way can I identify with this book whatsoever. The author did terrible research and only told the negative side of a small percentage of wives! The book was mostly complaining and all around depressing. I married my husband right out of basic, I was 18 and he was 19. We both had high school diplomas and that was it! Straight out of basic he was stationed in Korea for a year while I gave birth to our first child (a son) alone. My husband has been in the army now for 5 years and we have 3 beautiful children. We have been though the ranks and now he is at Staff Sgt. I've never had trouble feeding my children and I always had enough to pay the bills even at e2 pay. You have to learn not to spend your money frivolously, run up your credit cards, and run to wal-mart which is what the women in the book did! The army has wonderful resources and you HAVE to use them! Enlisted wives are wonderful, intelligent down to earth people who deserve respect. When we stand in front of god on judgment day I guarantee he won't has you what your husband's rank was.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2004

    A Disappointment

    The only purpose that this book serves is to make all enlisted spouses look incompetent,unintelligent and needy. Then again, what would you expect? The author is the daughter and wife of (military) officers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2002

    She has no clue how to do research

    First off, I am a military wife. I will say that these women have valid concerns, and that what they experienced is not always uncommon- however- they chose not use the hundreds of military resources that are available to us each and every day. The military knows about these concerns- this book has unmasked nothing. What it has done, is to further foster the society imposed sterotype that military wives are unintelliegent, unemployed baby factories with little to no problem solving skills. Three women HARDLY represent the whole- out of all she interviewed she specifically chose three gals who had it rough, and did not thrive. What about the privates wife who held a job, went to school, had a child, and eventually became a teacher for the Army? Why is SHE not in this book? People believe what they read- and for this author to come in and say she did extensive research, and the best she could find were these three women, then go to lable the book an all encompassing 'junior enlisted wives'--well, she may have claimed that the book's goal was to make the government aware of our strife- but madame, let me tell you, all you have truly done, is to set back all the hard work we have done, and put us back to facing the public as so called 'poor military wives.' By the way- I am that Private's wife mentioned above. On little money, I managed to pay the rent, and have food on the table while my husband was gone to Saudi. I worked part time, and went to school, and gave birth to my first child mid semester. I completed school with child in tow, and now teach in military schools. There are many more like me out there- perhaps you would like to write another book?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2001

    Invisible women

    This book is not about the sterotypical wives of military men. My husband is in the Army, and I can tell you that I did not sit around complaining about how bad I had it. Yes, our men and women in uniform get paid a pittance, but sometimes you have to make sacrifices. These women did not make any sacrifices as far as I could tell. The author also did not show any positive women in her book. She did not show the positive side of being a military wife.

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