Why Women Deserve Official Combat Positions

Yahoo Contributor Network

The Pentagon is lifting its ban on women officially serving in combat. Yahoo News asked female military veterans to react to the decision. Here's one perspective.

COMMENTARY | Back in 2004, I sat in front of my recruiter, as I signed the dotted line to serve four years in the U.S. Army. As my pen took the last stroke, I looked up and smiled. Now came the fun part. I got to pick my job. As my recruiter went down the list of jobs available to me, I proudly puffed up my chest and suggested infantryman.

He paused for a second and then began to laugh. I sat there a little confused. Had I made a joke? My recruiter paused and then gently suggested that I would be better suited for an administrative position. I didn't understand why I could not be in the infantry and worse, why that was a laughable suggestion. That's when I learned that sexism still existed. I had never been told that I could not do something simply for the fact that I was female.

This mindset continued throughout my military career, including my deployment to Afghanistan. I served alongside my male counterparts searching vehicles and personnel for explosive and going out on regular foot patrols in surrounding villages. Regardless of my performance or duties, I was still denied the opportunity to hold an official combat position.

On Thursday, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta officially declared that women would no longer be barred from combat positions within the U.S. military. This is a day that I never thought that I would live to see and, while I am overjoyed, I can't help but be cautious in my excitement. I know that along with this new decision, comes a long line of controversy and complications. But for those of us that have served and met with adversity, this is a long-awaited step in the right direction.

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