I fought 20 combat missions for my country. This is why Congress needs to pass a bill named after me

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‘Thank you for your service.’ A phrase meant to express gratitude to the less than 1% of Americans who raised their hands to defend the Constitution against all enemies. But what about more than 300 women Served on Cultural Support Teams (CST)? Unfortunately, women veterans are not given the same recognition as their male counterparts. I know this because I worked as a Teaching Services Physician (CST) and routinely witnessed my services being completely ignored.

Service members can be stripped of ranks, wages, and even honors—but the way we conducted ourselves on the battlefield encompasses much of our personal identity. I am devastated by the complete rejection of parts of my service and of my actions on the battlefield. I was told, “Women are not allowed to engage in combat” — like nothing I experienced really happened.

But this has already happened. I have served in combat, and I am not alone. Hundreds like me are constantly being denied military dues because we are women. It’s time to help my sisters-in-arms and take back the identity that’s been stripped from us.

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Women who have served in CSTs, like myself, have answered the call to serve at the tip of the spear of the Global War on Terror. Operating under U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), we fought alongside our Army’s elite operators during the height of the Afghan war, and became integral to special operations and intelligence gathering. CSTs support both village stabilization and direct action operations, where we can deal with women and children more effectively than all-male teams from SEALs, Special Forces, and other government agencies.

Jax Scott is pictured in northern Afghanistan in 2012 on deployment.

Jax Scott is pictured in northern Afghanistan in 2012 on deployment. (Photo courtesy of Jax Scott).

Despite our role primarily in the intelligence service, we frequently participated in gunfights alongside our male counterparts. Gradually, we became more involved in direct action (DA) operations – the kind of Hollywood action scenes our minds imagine. I love every second of it. As CST Operator, I have led DA operations and participated in 20 combat missions. I lost my dear friends along the way.

I have served in combat, and I am not alone. Hundreds like me are constantly being denied military dues because we are women. It’s time to help my sisters-in-arms and take back the identity that’s been stripped from us.

However, on our return home, we began to suffer mixed treatment. Our fellow workers, with whom we fought side by side, received prompt attention and appreciation. Meanwhile, my tech support colleagues and I struggled to convince Virginia doctors of our combat-related injuries.

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I did What the army taught me to do. I kept my mouth shut and groaned through the pain. Any case of complaint would risk my next mission, and that would mean failing my brothers and sisters—the great sin of a soldier in wartime. Psychological support teams experience the same unique conditions as the rest of the SOF community, including unseen wounds such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS).

Jacqueline

Jacqueline “Jax” Scott serves in combat

The Special Operations ethos does not allow for surrender or acceptance of “good enough” – which is why it insists on adversity. I turned to my SOF brothers and sisters to get the job done. I brought this case to the Special Operations Society of America, knowing that they live in the same spirit. We worked together with members of Congress to introduce the JAX Act.

Jax Scott is in the middle.  Taken while deployed to northern Afghanistan in 2012 with a combat camera.

Jax Scott is in the middle. Taken while deployed to northern Afghanistan in 2012 with a combat camera. (Photo courtesy of Jax Scott).

The bill is bipartisan legislation With Veteran Cast – Presented by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., and co-sponsored by Representatives Chrissie Hoolahan, R-VP, Jason Crowe, D-Co, and Gene Keegans, R-Va. On Thursday, March 23, the bill was introduced, but this is only the beginning of the JAX enactment journey. It still has to be shepherded through the rest of the House and Senate.

The CST program officially ended on August 31, 2021 – the day the United States left Afghanistan in ruins. This day is symbolic to many in the Special Operations Forces community – marking the end of a war that has demanded our best years and the best our bodies can offer.

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Our struggles are back with us. For CSTs, we have vied for the same recognition as our SOF brethren but to no avail. I wouldn’t trade anything in my days for a uniform. They made me who I am today – a fighter.

As we reflect on and atone for decades of war, we ask that you support our efforts. Please contact your local JAX ACT Pass Support representative.

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