More than 280,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with hundreds wounded and more than 150 killed. But until now, Defense Department rules have limited their combat training and denied them combat-related career advancement. With today’s announcement lifting the ban on women in combat, America’s female warriors can now stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their male colleagues on the front lines and get the recognition they deserve.
The Pentagon’s decision comes less than two-months after four servicewomen filed a federal lawsuit seeking an end to the ban. Two of the four, Major Mary Hegar and Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, were awarded the Purple Heart, and Hegar also received the Distinguished Flying Cross with a Valor Device. Here, Hegar describes her experience in the Air National Guard and the day her helicopter was shot up during a Medevac mission in Afghanistan in 2009.
As Hegar writes: “If there is one thing I’ve learned about the differences between us all throughout my years of service, it’s this: putting the right person in the right job has very little to do with one’s gender, race, religion or other demographic descriptor. It has everything to do with one’s heart, character, ability, determination and dedication.”