Re "Military to lift ban on women in combat jobs," Jan. 24
As a retired service member, I saw numerous changes throughout the period I served, and since the 9/11 attacks each service has faced its own challenges, including simultaneous spousal deployments and cutbacks on defense spending and force reductions.
But this administration's use of the military as a social experiment undermines the armed forces' military mission. The military is already dealing with the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" , and now it must open front-line combat positions to women. This ignores the multiple opportunities women already have to serve.
Each service is having to deal with sexual harassment in their academies, sexual assault during initial training, post-traumatic stress disorder among current veterans and high suicide rates. Why further test the resilience of our servicemen and women?
The decision to admit women formally into combat roles is a two-fold advance for our women warriors. Not only will their career opportunities be equal, but their veterans' benefits will be the same as their male counterparts'. Combat benefits are greater than support benefits and services, yet both assignments can be in war zones. Both combat and support personnel can be injured, suffer from PTSD and other disabilities.
As a retired Army colonel who commanded a brigade in Iraq explained to us, every time his jeep was hit and exploded, both he and his driver were injured. But only he qualified for combat benefits and services. He had to fight the system to get her the same benefits he received.
So we salute Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for giving women warriors equal career opportunities and equal benefits at long last.
The writers are co-presidents of the Coalition for Veterans' Land.
The only relevant question when making a change in the military is whether the change will make our armed forces stronger. Does putting women on the front lines in combat make us stronger? I doubt it.
Now imagine German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel in North Africa during World War II faced with an American army on his right that is all male and another American army on his left that is half male and half female. Which way do you suspect he would attack?
Putting women on the front lines is politically correct and much more fair to women seeking a military career, but is it wise?
It's so reassuring that women now have an equal right to suffer the inevitable trauma, both physical and mental, that afflict combat veterans. It's a macabre sort of progress, I must say.
It certainly doesn't make me feel any safer, only sadder.
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