Pro: Women in combat creates equality for all genders

Feb. 4, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
Updated Feb. 3, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.

Kasandra Villareal yelled out drill instructions to her peers during a recent after-school Air Force Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps meeting.

As they all marched, Villareal walked in place as well. But she stood out. She was the only woman marching.

Villareal knows that men could be judging her. Part of the reason she's joining the Marines upon high school graduation is to prove others wrong - in particular, men.

"I don't like when people say that women aren't as strong and can't do the same," said Villareal, 18. "I like a challenge."

The Victoria East High School senior plans to graduate in May and enlist in the Marines.

Like Villareal, other women plan to fight side by side with their male counterparts in combat.

"Women are just as strong," Villareal said. "In situations of combat, women can do stuff that men can't, like get into smaller places."

The recent lifting of the ban by the Pentagon now allows women to be in combat like men.

One area women veteran wants to return to the service.

Molly Egan spent four years in the Army as an aviation operations specialist. She doesn't regret serving and wants to get back to doing the work she did. She admitted, however, that her military experience was unique.

"It was a female majority unit," said Egan, 25, who lives in Yoakum. "There was no exclusion. Whatever a man could do, a woman could do."

While some women agree to fight in combat, the push back remains. Ariela Migdal, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., represents four women who claim combat exclusion. She hopes this latest Pentagon move will be one step closer to meeting the goal for women.

"We're excited about the change, but we want to see what's going to change," said Migdal. "We know women are going out with the special armed forces, the question is will that continue to happen unofficially, or will it actually happen?"

Women are not the only people accepting the fight to be one.

Friends of Villareal, who also will see a future fighting for the U.S., said the change has been coming.

"We've been calling for equal rights ever since the start of this country," said Leo Butler, 18, a senior at Victoria East High School. This fall, he will enter the Air Force. "(Women) should have that option if they are to serve in combat roles. I count by their determination. If they can make it, go ahead."

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