Con: Women need to know what they are getting into
BY KELDY ORTIZ - KORTIZ@VICAD.COM
Feb. 4, 2013 at 6 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.
Beverly Offe wants to say yes to equality for women in combat, but she said it's a complicated subject.
Sitting at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4146 in Victoria, Offe, 58, thought before responding to a question of whether women should be allowed to serve in combat.
She remembered her seven years in the U.S. Navy as a nurse. Offe said she couldn't have imagined being told to carry a firearm.
"If they said now you're carrying a weapon, I would have left," she said. "Everyone has freedom of choice. I never thought they would send a woman."
Mackubin Owens, a national security affairs professor at the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island and a former Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, said problems would occur if both sexes were in combat.
"I'm not a sexist," said Owens. "My concern is if this is making the military better. If not, why are you doing it?"
Owens said double standards would exist if women are allowed in combat. He feels as though women would not be kept up to the same standards and qualifications as men.
Then there are changes that would have to be made for the selective service process, which now includes only men. Others wonder if women will be included in a draft if it were revived.
"There has to be a lot of clarification on this blanket statement," said Offe. "There has to be more understanding."
Ron Heath, a 22-year Marine Corps veteran, said all women should be required to go through basic training. But even then, he doesn't think women could be part of the infantry.
"If you're going into things, you have to understand what you're getting into," he said. "To be on the lines of the infantry is a different scenario. I have no issues with women in the military. It's that people are made differently, physically and mentally."
Offe said she hopes women can have the right to choose whether they want to be in combat. She hopes women can decide individually, and the choices are not made for them in the future.
As a woman with no children, Offe said she hopes a mother with a child does not have to leave them alone.
"If you had asked me to get into combat, I would have said no," she said. "Not me nor my daughter."