By Spc. Cassandra Groce, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
KIRKUK, Iraq – Under the former regime, women in Iraq were associated with heavy robes, veils and oppression. Now, these same females are making their mark in the Iraqi Army.
Sandreek Nissan Khoshaba and Suhad Kareem Jabir are nurses at the Iraqi Army clinic on K1, an IA training facility near Kirkuk, Iraq. They are part of a slowly increasing number of women in the typically male-dominated IA.
“The women bring a certain level of expertise and a sense of family into the clinic,” said Maj. Curtis Aberle, clinic medical advisor for the Coalition Military Training Team. “They are highly respected by the men; highly respected for their professions. They are vital members of the team.”
Khoshaba, who specializes in setting broken bones, has nine years experience in nursing. Jabir, who has been at the clinic for six months, has been a nurse for 13 years.
The women nurses are considered members of the Iraqi Army and radiate pride in their positions.
“I am very interested in working with my brothers in the military,” said Jabir. “I need to work with the Army because they are my brothers. I need to succeed.”
Khoshaba admits that she is engrossed in her work and often “forgets herself” when working on Soldiers.
Medical diagnosis is not the limit of challenges for women working in the IA; they must also overcome years of ingrained opinions on a woman’s position in society.
Two months ago the women working on K1 were targeted by an insurgent group, and two female soldiers were killed. This has not deterred Jabir and Khoshaba from continuing their job.
“It’s a challenge, and I am not afraid,” said Khoshaba.
Because of the assault, the women were allowed to stay home for several weeks. Afterwards, however, they eagerly returned to their positions at K1.
“I am very impressed by their courage and determination to stick with the Army and ultimately stick with the formation of this country,” said Aberle. “In the face of the attack that killed their two friends, they came back and continued working. They are very courageous.”
With their continued devotion and passion for their jobs as well as their fellow Soldiers, Jabir and Khoshaba are leading the way for women in what was once a male-dominated society.