Female service members applaud lifting of ban on women in combat - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Female service members applaud lifting of ban on women in combat

FORT LEAVENWORTH, KS (KCTV) -

Thursday the Pentagon made a big move and lifted its ban on women in combat. The Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended the new policy which will open up more than 200,000 frontline jobs to women, mostly in the Army and Marines.

Lifting the ban means more advancement and higher pay for female officers.

"The burden used to be, we used to say, ‘why should a woman serve in a particular specialty?' Now it's, ‘why shouldn't a woman serve in a particular specialty,'" said General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The changes will not come overnight. The new policy will be phased in over the next three years.

Thursday's move is one that many female service members, current and past, are applauding.

"General Dempsey and I are pleased to announce that we are eliminating the direct combat exclusion rule for women," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said.

Now that Panetta has announced that they are lifting the 1994 gender-based bans to service, many women veterans in Kansas City are seeing a new era.

"I think it's going to open a whole new world," Kathy Lee, with Veterans of Foreign Wars, said.

Lee is a Vietnam War veteran herself.

"I didn't consider myself to be in combat, but I was wrong because my hospital was hit four times," she said.

Women served in combat positions in Afghanistan and Iraq, but some positions were restricted to men only, that is until Thursday. In those two wars, 152 women have died, said Panetta.

"Everyone, men and women alike, are committed to doing the job. They are fighting and dying together," Panetta said.

World War II veteran Mary McArtor spoke about how far the military has come.

"When we finished basic training, no one wanted to take us," she said.

McArtor voluntarily enlisted in 1942 when women weren't even considered in the military, but belonged to a women's auxiliary.

"It was a new idea, although there have been women who served in the military since the Revolutionary War, many were disguised as men," she said.

Qualifications will not be lowered said Panetta, but some question the female's physical strength compared to that of men.

Lee said that's a myth.

"I think there are a lot of women who can do better on their PT tests than some of the men," she said.

A lot of people are talking about the move on the KCTV5 Facebook page.

"Not a great idea. This only causes problems and will cost more money as well," Mike said.

"Hey if you can pass the same PT test, I welcome anyone to come stand by my side in combat," Kyle said.

You can join in the discussion on the KCTV5's Facebook page.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.)  All rights reserved.

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