BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Women in the U.S. military are fighting the government for its policy banning female servicemembers from direct combat roles. A Maryland soldier is at the center of the controversial issue. She’s suing the Department of Defense, saying the policy hurts her chances for a promotion.
Kai Jackson has more on her demands.
A Maryland servicewoman says she and her colleagues have performed duties equal to men and believes they’ve earned equal advancement.
Getting the military’s green light for combat continues to be elusive for women in the U.S. Armed Services. Staff sergeant Jennifer Hunt is a civil affairs specialist in the Army reserves. Hunt, from Gaithersburg, was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Policy prevents Hunt and her female colleagues from serving in combat roles, but reality puts them in harm’s way. Hunt’s vehicle was hit by an IED. She was wounded by shrapnel and received the Purple Heart.
“I received shrapnel wounds in my face and arms and a burn on my neck,” Hunt said.
A 1994 Defense Department policy bans women from serving in units with direct ground combat missions and Hunt’s time in combat is regarded differently than male soldiers.
“Women like myself have and are currently putting themselves at the same amount of risk as their male counterparts,” Hunt said.
Hunt is one of four servicewomen suing the military, saying the policy is illegal and hurts career advancement for women.
The ACLU agrees.
“It’s outdated and has to go,” said ACLU attorney Ariela Migdal.
The Defense Department argues many jobs previously closed to women are now open. DOD issued a statement saying the recent openings are the beginning and not the end of the process.
Sixteen thousand women currently deployed are exposed to combat.