UT Veterans react to new policies allowing women in combat

Tasia Easlon

Some UT students say the recent decision to allow women to serve in ground combat roles is a step toward equality, while others say it will not work.

Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense, announced Thursday that he was lifting the 10-year-old ban on women serving in ground combat roles. Previously, many women served in roles that still exposed them to combat. Military service branches will have until January 2016 to petition the Department of Defense for positions they feel should remain male-only.

Jeremy Ross, a health promotions senior and U.S. Army veteran, said he is skeptical of the plan.

“I’m interested to see the Army’s plan to make it work.” Ross said. “The way things are right now, I don’t expect it to work.”

Ross said when a woman on a deployed unit gets pregnant, the squad does not get a new member. 

“Women can become pregnant at any time before or during a deployment.” Ross said. “Her squad doesn’t get a replacement grunt. They just have to keep deploying and door kicking without her.”

Ross said his other concern is women could be sexually assaulted on base. 

Melinda Lawrence, government sophomore and Navy veteran, said she believes this problem is only now raised as an issue.

“I think people are oblivious to the fact that sexual tensions and relationships have already been happening and have been since long before my time,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said it is a matter of professionalism and everyone wanting to point fingers at the woman to say she did it.

“It’s not a new situation and is just another excuse for treating women unequally,” Lawrence said. “If a man is worried about developing feelings for a woman that will keep him from doing his job, then he is weak and shouldn’t be there. The same goes for a woman.”

Both Lawrence and Ross agreed the physical fitness standard for women combatants needs to be raised so it can be equal for both genders. But Lawrence said that there were plenty of women who can score better on fitness exams than some of the men.

“If women pass the same standards that are required of men then it no longer is a physical issue but a sexist issue,” she said.

Lawrence said a man who is too worried about the safety of combat women doesn’t have a place on the battlefield.

“Just because his personal views are clouding his judgment and keeping him from accomplishing his mission doesn’t mean we should punish women for a select few men’s flaws,” she said.