There is no one I have a greater respect for than the men and the women of the United States armed forces. While I sit on my ass eating mozzarella sticks and watching a “Say Yes to The Dress” marathon, they are out there defending us against threats, both seen and unseen. They risk their lives every day so that I can enjoy the freedoms they are sworn to protect.
Yet, as much as I respect the members of the military, I’ve often been saddened that the armed forces weren’t a place that was very inclusive – until recently. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has ended. The Defense Department recently announced that they would begin a process that would lift its ban on open service for transgender troops. And in March, the Marines were ordered to open their ground combat units to women. Now, two additional items can be checked off the list of making the military more accessible to women who want to fight for our nation.
Capt. Kristen Griest, a military police officer from Orange, Connecticut, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache helicopter pilot from Copperas Cove, Texas, became the first women to graduate from the Army’s Ranger School. These two ladies are among a group of 19 women who attended the first co-ed Ranger course, which began in April alongside 381 male participants, but finished its 62-day course with only 94 men and two women. Seems like a big drop off, but not when you hear what they had to do.
According to CNN:
The students were forced to train with minimal food and little sleep and had to learn how to operate in the woods, mountains and swamplands. Students also had to undergo a physical fitness test that included 49 pushups, 59 situps, a 5-mile run in 40 minutes, six chin-ups, a swim test, a land navigation test, a 12-mile foot march in three hours, several obstacle courses, four days of military mountaineering, three parachute jumps, four air assaults on helicopters, and 27 days of mock combat patrol.
Holy shit. I had to take a nap after just reading that.
Then, on the heels of the Army’s announcement on Monday regarding Griest and Haver, the Navy announced that they are making preparations to include women in the ranks of the elite Navy SEALS. According to CNN, Adm. Jon Greenert, the Navy’s chief operations officer, told the Defense News, “Why shouldn’t anybody who can meet these (standards) be accepted? And the answer is, there is no reason. So we’re on a track to say, ‘Hey look, anybody who can meet the gender non-specific standards, then you can become a SEAL.” While no date was announced for when women can start to compete for the coveted SEAL spots, Greenart’s comments were confirmed by Commander William Marks with Navy Public Affairs.
In my mind, anyone who signs up to fight for our country is a hero, and I’m just glad to see more opportunities for women to take part. Props (and thanks) to Griest, Haver, and all of the other women out there serving in the military. We salute you..
Image via Youtube / CBS Evening News