Saturday, January 26, 2013

Another Step Taken Toward Equal Rights

I haven't been a big supporter of Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, but I definitely approve of one of his final actions before leaving that job -- removing the ban on women in the military serving in combat positions. For many reasons, this has been too long in coming.

* It's another step toward true equality in this country. There's no reason why any American who meets the qualifications and goes through the training shouldn't be allowed to do any job in this country (including military jobs). There probably won't be a huge influx in women wanting to serve in combat units, but those who meet the qualifications and training should be allowed to do so. And the qualifications and training were not reduced -- it will be the same as the men who serve in those units (and that's as it should be).

* In many modern wars, including our two most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, there isn't much (if any) difference between the front line and the rear area. The very nature of those wars mean that anyone serving in the military in those countries is in danger. At least 139 women have been killed in those countries, and nearly a thousand have been wounded. Banning them from combat units simply doesn't make sense anymore.

* Many of the women who've been wounded (both physically and psychologically) have sometimes been denied the same veterans services as men, because of the designation of their military job as not a combat position. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a change in that policy also -- since a job designation does not mean the person was not in danger.

* There are several other countries, many of them allies who fight alongside our troops, who have allowed women to serve in combat units -- and they have had no problems with it. Some of these countries are: Canada, New Zealand, France, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Finland, Poland, Romania, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Australia.

* This could help to solve the serious problem of sexual assault in the military (where about 1 out of 3 women will be assaulted). That's the opinion of General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I agree. When the rules treat the sexes differently, so will many people. General Dempsey says:

We’ve had this ongoing issue with sexual harassment, sexual assault. I believe its because we’ve had separate classes of military personnel at some level. Now, its far more complicated than that. But when you have one part of the population that is designated as ‘warriors’ and one part that is designated as something else, that disparity begins to establish a psychology that — in some cases — led to that environment. I have to believe the more we treat people equally, the more likely they are to treat each other equally.

Of course, this brings up the question of whether the American public wants to see, or will accept, this change in policy. The folks at the Gallup Poll decided to find out. Their survey was done on January 24th with a random sample of 513 adults (with a margin of error of 6 points). Surprisingly, there is a lot of support for Panetta's action -- and that support cuts across age, political and gender lines. Here is what Gallup found:

1 comment:

  1. How long have women been lobbying and fighting and dying for equal rights? They were on the battlefield during the Civil War, binding up the wounds of soldiers shot at the front lines.


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