Watertown— Thursday, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced the official lifting of the ban on women serving in combat roles.
ABC50 spoke with local disabled Marine veteran, Rachel Mazzola who served in Iraq from 2004-2005. Mrs. Mazzola was ecstatic when she first heard that the ban was being lifted. “This is what women have been waiting for, to be able to be given the opportunity to do the same exact job that men do”, said Mrs. Mazzola.
However, Mazzola did feel that military women who are mothers should be deployed less than female soldiers who are not mothers. After having served 3 years in the United States Marine Corps., Mrs. Mazzola was released as a disabled veteran in 2006. Although Mazzola is extremely supportive of equality in the military, she says- “I know a lot of men who totally disagree with this ban lift”.
But, it isn’t just male soldiers who are speculated to be opposed to women being in the front-lines. ABC50 spoke with another female retired Marine Corps. soldier, who had a different perspective. “It comes down to the woman’s choice to be in the front-lines”, said Kate Billmeier, who has retired from the Marines after serving 4 years. She went on to point out that women are more likely to get tortured and raped if they were to get captured by the enemy.
Mrs. Billmeier stressed that when she was in the Marines, she wasn’t treated the same by her male peers. “They either baby you or they treat you worse just because they feel they need to toughen you up”, said Billmeier. Having had a bad experience while she served, Billmeier further stated that she didn’t feel that women should even be in the military.
Not only did Billmeier have personal negative accounts from her Marine years, she shared her experiences with other female soldiers:
“This may sound like a generic stereotype, but women are not as strong as men: physically, mentally, and emotionally. I see female soldiers here at Fort Drum who have constant breakdowns and cannot handle their jobs, personal lives and etc. They break down all the time emotionally and they shouldn’t have to handle it. Maybe they can, but they shouldn’t have to. How can these women go to war and be in the front-lines if they can barely handle their personal lives now?”
The combat exclusionary policy lift will potentially open up hundreds, if not, thousands of positions for female soldiers to serve in the front- lines of combat and elite forces.