Believe it or not, women are the last group subject to a blanket exclusion in the military since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Despite how much the nature of warfare has changed over the last decade, women in the US Military are still not allowed to engage in ground combat or situations where they will be exposed to hostile fire. Four veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are trying to change this outdated law by suing the Department of Defense.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union states that, “The combat exclusion policy is based on outdated stereotypes of women and ignore the realities of the modern military and battlefield conditions.” These ladies really know about the reality of the current wars, as two of them are Purple Heart winners. These ladies have had to defend themselves and the other soldiers in their units by returning fire and engaging in what could be considered ground combat. Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, one of the plaintiffs of the suit, claimed that, “This is actively hindering our leadership’s ability to pick the best people for the jobs,” by excluding women from 238,000 jobs across the military.
It’s about time that someone stepped up for women’s rights to be full-fledged members of the military. After ten years of women being deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, being taken as prisoners of war, and ultimately giving their lives for their country, it’s high time they received full recognition for their efforts. Combat lines are blurrier than ever, and anyone can find themselves on the front lines. This kind of gender discrimination would not be acceptable in any other workplace, and yet the Pentagon continues to perpetuate it in the military. More than 130 women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, proving that women really are on the front lines of the war. What more do women have to do to prove themselves?
Bedell further stated, “Because you have the policy that women are inherently unequal by the organization’s standards and the country’s standards, that permeates the whole organization and makes it OK for people who want to treat you as a second-class citizen.” Perhaps Bedell is hinting at the high amount of sexual assaults (about 19,000 in the last year) that occur among members of the military. This case has the potential to change entire attitudes in the military, and is sure to be historic. We’ll keep you posted with any and all updates.
Image via americanwomenveterans.org.