“Everyone is entitled to a chance.”
That’s just one explanation Defense Secretary Leon Panetta offered earlier this week as a reason for lifting a ban on women serving in combat.
That means more than 230,000 battlefront posts — many in Army and Marine infantry units and in potentially elite commando jobs — are now open to women. As The Associated Press has reported, it will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend and defend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy SEALs or the Army’s Delta Force.
The historic change, which was recommended by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, overturns a 1994 rule prohibiting women from being assigned to smaller ground combat units.
“Every person in today’s military has made a solemn commitment to fight, and if necessary to die, for our nation’s defense,” Panetta said. “We owe it to them to allow them to pursue every avenue of military service for which they are fully prepared and qualified. Their career success and their specific opportunities should be based solely on their ability to successfully carry out an assigned mission. Everyone deserves that chance.”
The change was largely applauded, and many members of Congress voiced their support.
Of course, as the AP pointed out, the change won’t take place overnight: Service chiefs will have to develop plans for allowing women to seek the combat positions. Some jobs may open as soon as this year, while assessments for others, such as special operations forces, may take longer. The services will have until January 2016 to make a case that some positions should remain closed to women.
And not all women will be able to meet the qualifications to be a combat soldier, and qualifications will not be lowered.
Plus, the decision will present a challenge to top military leaders who will have to decide which, if any, jobs they believe should be open only to men.
But “everyone is entitled to a chance.”
Jessica Lynch certainly thinks so.
On Thursday, the West Virginia resident and former prisoner of war called Panetta’s announcement good news for the U.S. military, saying women have long been integral to victories in the fight for freedom.
Lynch, as you might recall, was just 19 when she was captured after her Army unit took a wrong turn and came under attack in Iraq a decade ago. She was rescued after nine days in captivity.
She now spends her time urging Americans to support military men and women, so it would make sense that she’s supportive of Panetta’s announcement.
“Everyone is entitled to a chance.”
According to statistics from the AP, women comprise about 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel. More than 280,000 women have been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan or to jobs in neighboring nations in support of the wars. Of the more than 6,600 U.S. service members who have been killed, 152 have been women.
We’re confident that every woman who serves in one of the 230,000 battlefront posts will do so with bravery and honor, upholding her pledge to support and defend this nation.
As President Barack Obama said, “Today, every American can be proud that our military will grow even stronger, with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love.”
We’re glad they’re being given that chance.
“Everyone is entitled to a chance.”
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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