Outgoing defense secretary Leon Panetta lifted the nearly 20-year rule that made direct combat roles off-limits to women. Women in the service say that will open a lot of doors. But they fear their biggest battle will be convincing servicemen that they can do the job.
For 13-year old Gretta Burk of Menlo, lifting the ban on women in combat is a dream come true. She comes from a military family…her grandfather was a highly decorated pilot in World War Two. Her father served in Operation Desert Storm. And she wants to honor her family by being an infantry-woman. But she knows that could be a battle.
“I really do and I’m really proud of what they did.” Burk says, “And how they did it and I’m just..I just want to be a part of that.”
Captain Jodi Marti of the Iowa National Guard has already served alongside men on the front lines in Afghanistan. She admits, changing attitudes will be difficult. “Change is hard. Change is difficult. I think that’s why it’s good to take it slow. Will some male soldiers not accept it? Absolutely. They don’t accept us now, some of the soldiers.” she says.
Women will have to meet the same physical requirements as men if they’re serving in the same positions. The change is expected to open 230,000 front-line positions to women. But the Pentagon said it might be next year before the specifics are worked out and women can begin applying for the newly opened positions.