Women on the Front Lines

24 Jan

You’ve probably heard, its big news, but today Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta lifted the military’s ban on women in combat. It showed up on my newsfeed today and I was stunned and moved. Panetta’s decision overrides the 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other combat roles. The 1994 ban ignored the fact that 20,000 American women have seen combat in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, over 800 women were wounded, and 130 killed. None of these women were actually allowed to receive recognition for their service, because you know, they weren’t technically allowed to experience combat- they were just allowed to die in it.

It’s important because these combat positions allow women to obtain career advancing jobs that they have previously been excluded from. Two months ago, four service women filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon because of this ban. They argued that despite experiencing combat, they were not recognized for it and were not allowed to fill certain leadership positions because the Defense Department didn’t officially recognize them as having combat experience- despite being shot and wounded during conflict. Pretty fucked up right?

The lifting of the ban came after Panetta received a letter from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey stating that “the time has come to rescind the direct combat exclusion rule for women and to eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.”

I completely agree. Women are equal to men, if we want to serve and defend our country that should be our choice. In a time when women’s rights are under attack, and our ability to choose is being challenged this ruling offers a ray of hope. If we can choose to fight for our country, maybe some of those idiots out there will start agreeing that we can choose what to do with our own bodies. But then again, maybe that is wishful thinking.

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