The US has decided to lift the ban on allowing women in the military serving in “front line” combat. Brought on by a recent case against the defense department, the US Defense secretary has moved forward with this decision. Many feel this move is a formality, since women have been in combat zone and combat positions for the past eleven years. By not recognizing formal assignments to combat units, women are often left without acknowledgement of these services. Capt. Zoe Bedell of the US Marine Corps, one of the plaintiffs in the suit against the DOD stated that the policy banning women from front line combat has held her back in her career. Stipulations will remain that the person, male or female must be qualified and meet the standards that the positions requires, but the decision is estimated to open 230,000 combat roles.
The first thing that occurred to me is that it will allow women to receive care related to their combat in ways that might have been brushed off before. Acknowledging that women can be in the front lines of wars with no distinct lines validates each person’s response to that experience and allots the same benefits to them as their male counterparts. It also takes away some of the discrimination still held against women in armed forces. Skeptics still believe that women are not able to handle combat positions, and these units will suffer for becoming mixed gender. Personally I would love an expansion on the statement from Ms. Donnelly at the US Centre for Military Readiness who stated:
“Thirty years of studies, reports, and actual experience….have shown that in direct ground combat units- the infantry- women do not have an equal opportunity to survive or to help fellow soldiers to survive. The physical aspects of it are only part of the reason.”
The argument against physical differences is one I can understand. If anyone of any gender is not up to the physical demands of the position…fine. No one is saying that any woman can and will be put into these roles, but gives the opportunity for women to be. Not every male is able to willing to hold an infantry position. What are the other reasons that make women unequal to survive and to help others survive? That sounds like some 1950’s BS(excuse me) of the fairer, more delicate sex. But I’m willing to hear out the studies that demonstrate that.
The lifting of this ban can be a great step towards equality of the genders in military settings. As a nation, we need to honor each servicemember, regardless of gender, for the risk and sacrifices they have made.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer