The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Lifestyles

November 28, 2012

Female service members sue over combat exclusion policy

WASHINGTON — Four female service members filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn the Pentagon's exclusion of women from many combat roles, arguing that the restrictions are unconstitutional and have hindered their careers.

The plaintiffs have all served in Iraq or Afghanistan and each performed dangerous combat-related missions. Two were awarded Purple Hearts - a combat decoration - after they were wounded on the battlefield.

"The shrapnel that tore through the vehicle that day didn't stop because I'm a female," Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt, who was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb while she was riding in a Humvee, said in a telephone interview. She said the Pentagon's combat exclusion policy assumes that women are less capable than men, "which is I think one of the biggest errors the military can make."

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, is the latest legal attempt to force the Pentagon to lift its longstanding ban on women serving in most ground combat units. In May, two female Army reservists filed a similar lawsuit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

In both cases, the women are accusing the Pentagon of moving too slowly to recognize the reality of modern war zones, where the military has become dependent on female troops to fight the enemy even though on paper they are barred from doing so in many cases. In addition to Hunt, the plaintiffs are Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, Marine 1st Lt. Colleen Farrell and Air Force Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar.

Responding to pressure from Congress and female veterans, the Pentagon announced in February that it would open about 14,000 combat-related positions to female troops, including tank mechanics and intelligence officers on the front lines.

But the Defense Department said it would keep 238,000 other positions - about one-fifth of the regular active-duty military - off-limits to women, pending further review. Virtually all of those jobs are in the Army and Marine Corps.

George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday that Panetta has asked each branch of the armed services to continue to explore what other jobs could be opened to women. "His record is very strong on this issue," Little told reporters.

The biggest previous advance for women in uniform came in 1994, when the Clinton administration removed restrictions on more than a quarter-million troop slots. Since then, however, the Pentagon has kept in place a prohibition on women serving in units whose primary mission is "direct" ground combat, such as artillery, infantry and tank units.

In practice, however, many women serve in close support of ground combat units, blurring any distinctions on the battlefield.

The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The Service Women's Action Network, which advocates on behalf of women in the military, is also a plaintiff.

Since 2001, about 290,000 women have deployed as part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Defense Department statistics. Of those, 152 have been killed and 951 have been wounded.

Overall, women make up about 14 percent of the active-duty military.



 

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • The Clinton Herald Jim Miller Low-cost, free cellphone options for seniors DEAR SAVVY SENIOR: What are the cheapest cell phone options available today to seniors living on a shoestring budget? I only need it for occasional calls. — Seldom Calling SeniorDEAR SELDOM: For financially challenged seniors who only want a cell pho

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Off to market: Fulton Buy-Way yard sales are Aug. 8 and 9

    Flea market fans and bargain shoppers will once again make their way to Fulton.

    July 31, 2014

  • School supplies offered at events

    With students going back to school soon, Clinton families will have two opportunities to receive free back-to-school supplies.

    July 30, 2014

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • YWCA offers lifeguard training

    CLINTON — The YWCA will offer lifeguard training in August.The course will be held from Aug. 4 to 10 at the YWCA. This 30-hour class will meet from 5 to 9 p.m. for four weeknights and from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday. A possibility of adding a class from 1

    July 25, 2014

  • GPS race Teams race to complete challenges THOMSON, Ill. — A challenge in August will pit teams against each other to complete a series of challenges.The event will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge in Thomson. Armed with GPS units, teams

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Habitat for Humanity hosts fundraiser

    CLINTON — Habitat for Humanity will host a fundraiser in Thomson, Illinois.The Clinton County group will showcase Laid Back Luau from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, at Heirloom Cafe in Thomson. The event will feature games, prizes, music train rides for

    July 25, 2014

  • Fire departments undergo grain bin rescue training OMAHA — The Goose Lake and Lost Nation Volunteer Fire Departments each have received lifesaving grain bin rescue equipment through a donation from Farm Credit Services of America.Goose Lake received its equipment July 14 and Lost Nation on July 15. E

    July 24, 2014

  • ADM donates $75K for fire boat purchase CLINTON — Archer Daniels Midland Company has donated $75,000 to the city of Clinton for a new fire and rescue boat for the Clinton Fire Department.The boat will help the fire department respond to fires, administer emergency medical services and resp

    July 24, 2014

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

Should the city of Clinton appeal the open records violation ruling that will cost taxpayers $40,600?

Yes
No
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.