Caring For America's Women Warriors

It's a weekend of firsts: the first camp just for women wounded in war -- and the first golf swing for retired Army Sergeant Diane Cochran.

After her Humvee rolled over in Afghanistan, doctors thought the mother of three would never walk again, reports CBS News correspondent Kelly Wallace.

"What does it feel like to be standing up and hitting balls today?" Wallace asks.

"It's humbling," Diane says as tears well up in her eyes. "And I'm overwhelmed."

It's OK to cry at the camp.

"Our whole career-at least my whole career-you want not to be prissy. You want to be like the guys," Diane says. "This is nice to be able to share with another girl-another female."

Read Wallace's blog post about her visit to the camp.
Danielle Green-Byrd -- a former college basketball star -- lost her left hand to a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.

"I love ponytails. I have been trying to show my husband how to do a ponytail," she says. "Even putting on a bra. A bra -- that can be a challenge, but I do it."

"Chicks love scars," Diane says. "I heard that at Walter Reed all the time. Well do guys love scars? I don't know."

At war, they tried to be just one of the boys. At home, they struggle to be a woman again.

"I remember lying there and thinking I just want to be able to wear high heels and have painted toenails," Leslie, an amputee who served in Bosnia, says. "It was just wanting that part of that woman that you feel that you're going to lose when you're injured."

Nancy Schiliro lost sight in one eye and suffered a severe head injury after an explosion in Iraq.

"What's been the toughest part of this?" Wallace asks.

"I guess just seeing the reaction from my father," Nancy says.

"It was so sad for him," Wallace says.

"Yes, since I was the only girl," Nancy says.

It's no longer her father's military. Women were once confined to support roles, but not anymore.

And in the age of roadside bombs and rocket-propelled grenades, everyone is on the frontlines. Six hundred women have been injured-some returing like Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who heads the Illinois VA.

"This is the first time in our nation's history that we've had this many females, and especially combat veterans who are females, entering the VA system," Duckworth says. "I don't think, overall, any of the systems are quite ready for that."

A recent study found that outpatient care for women lagged behind men in a third of the facilities, something the VA is working hard to correct. Currently, only a third of VA hospitals have seperate clinics for women.

"I think it's been a man's world in the VA," Hayes says. "You know, that probably is the greatest challenge, that women will continue to be a minority of the veterans we see."

Diane Cochran is working on healing her wounds of war-the ones you see and the ones you don't.

"Before I went into Afghanistan, if I wanted to relax, I'd close my eyes and I'd picture myself ice skating or spinning around in circles in my backyard," she says. "And now, when I close my eyes, I'm carrying an M-16. And that's not going to go away."

But now there are new memories from a weekend with her band of sisters.
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

On Twitter