Acronyms Describing Women in the US Military

In the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, “military sexual trauma” has been so pervasive it got its own acronym: MST.

There are other acronyms—some now obsolete and some not listed—that are used to describe women in the military. I’ve listed a few here that I found from several lists.

Be warned, some of these acronyms and what they mean may offend a few, and I’m sure the last one will offend many.

­­WAAC = Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps and individual members of – now obsolete

WAC = Women’s Army Corps and individual members of – now obsolete

WAF = Women (in the) air Force and individual members of – now obsolete

WAVES = Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services in the US Navy – now obsolete

WM = Woman/Women Marine(s)

BAM = Broad Assed Marine; pejorative term for women Marines

field 10 = a physically unattractive female service member who becomes an object of desire for male service members after extended time in a field or combat environment away from civilian women.

ma’am = proper method of addressing female officers in particular and all women in general.

WACB (AR 310-50] = Women’s Army Classification Battery

WACSM [AR 310-50] = Women’s Army Corps Service Medal

WEST = weapon effectiveness simulated threat, (AR 310-50] Women’s Enlistment Screening Test

There’s one more acronyms that I could not find—but one I heard more than once from more than one Marine in 1967/68 while I was stationed at Camp Pendleton after my 1966 combat tour in Vietnam.

Marine men called—at least in my unit, the active duty nucleus for the division headquarters of the 4th Marine Division—women Marines SPAM.

Before I define what SPAM meant forty-six years ago, I want to warn you that you might be offended in this age of political correctness with so many words that are considered offensive by one group or another. Just remember, that the SPAM acronym was used by some Marines in the 1960s, and it was never official enough to make any of lists that I researched for this post and probably became obsolete soon after political correctness became a fact of life.

SPAM = Special Prostitute Assigned to the Marines

Considering all of the news about rapes and sexual harassment in the US military today, the use of SPAM to describe women Marines during the Vietnam War might reveal what some military men think about women serving in the military today telling us that maybe the way some men thought back then hasn’t changed much.

Should we be surprised?

The Justice Project reports, “The global sex trade has been increasing over the past 10 years and has now become one of the largest money-makers for criminals, presently taking place as the second largest criminal industry worldwide.”

800,000 are estimated to be trafficked across international borders each year.

80% of these people are females and 50% are minors

The vast majority of these victims will be forced into prostitution, requiring them to service high numbers of clients a day.

There are increasing demands for younger children in the sex slave trade.

Discover Stanford Study shows effect of PTSD trauma on brain


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].


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Is Rape a Hazard of Military Service?

The Associated Press reports, “Sexual assaults in the military are a growing epidemic across the services and thousands of victims are still unwilling to come forward despite a slew of new oversight and assistance programs, according to a new Pentagon report. The report says that of the 1.4 million active duty personnel, 6.1 percent of active duty women — or 12,100 — say they experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, a sharp increase over the 8,600 who said that in 2010.”

Do not confuse unwanted sexual contact with sexual assaults. Unwanted Sexual contact is defined as any non-consensual sexual contact, such as touching or fondling of breasts, buttocks, genitals or other sexual/”private” parts. Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity involving a person who does not or cannot—due to alcohol, drugs, or some sort of incapacitation—consent, and rape may include partner or marital rape.

And unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual assault is not the fault of the victim.

However, there is an explanation for the increase is sexual assaults in the military and it has to do—in part—with the following facts. From 1973 to 2010 the number of active-duty enlisted women in the military increased from about 42,000 to 167,000—a 400% increase.

In addition, the 1991 Gulf War was the first major military deployment where female troops were integrated into almost every military unit, except for combat ground units—this brought more women into daily contact with men suffering from combat induced PTSD.

The increased number of women serving in the US military; integration into almost every military unit and increased numbers of deployments to combat zones leading to more combat induced PTSD explains the increase in sexual assaults in the military.

Why would more combat veterans with PTSD lead to unwanted sexual contact and/or sexual assault?

The Huffington Post reports, “Combat veteran with PTSD were more likely to commit crimes. … A 2009 study of enlisted combat Marines with at least one deployment demonstrated that those with PTSD were six times more likely to be busted on drug charges than Marines without PTSD, and 11 times more likely to be discharged for misconduct.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs says PTSD and alcohol use problems are often found together and alcohol can make PTSD symptoms worse. … If you have a drinking problem, you are more likely than others with your same sort of background to go through a psychological trauma. You may also have problems getting close to others. You may have more conflicts with those people to whom you are close.

In addition, “Alcohol and drugs dis-inhibit people,” says Paul Rinaldi, associate director of the Addiction Institute of New York City.” Source: CBS News

And Helen Benedict writes in her new book “The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq—one of the symptoms of this disorder (PTSD) is uncontrollable violence (including increased incidents of rape).” Source: Womens

In conclusion: knowing the cause of this crime is not an excuse for the increase in sexual assaults in the US military, but knowing the cause offers possible solutions. One solution might be to remove military women from combat units and away from veterans—still serving in the military—who abuse alcohol/drugs while suffering from PTSD. Another solution might be through education, intervention and counseling programs for both women and men raising awareness of the problem along with methods to avoid or deal with it.

By The Numbers:

The Air Force has the highest percentage of women: 18% (11,665) are officers and 20% (51,614) are enlisted. In 2012, 790—1.2% of women serving in the Air Force—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.

Army: 15.5% officers (13,560) and 13.2% (59,672) enlisted. In 2012, 1,423—1.9%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.

Navy: 15.1% (7,769) are officers and 15% (41,294) enlisted. In 2012, 726—1.5%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.

Marine Corps: 5.8% (1,172) are officers and 6.2% (11,049) enlisted. In 2012, 435—3.6%—reported sexual assaults that include women and men.

Coast Guard: 14.9% (1,212) are officers and 11.6% (3,854) enlisted. One in three women as well as many men in the Coast Guard is going to fall victim of sexual assault and rape. Sources: Daily and Slide

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition].

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was fighting for the other side.

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