“I can’t speak for the men, but I feel that when the bullets were flying, they didn’t care that I was a woman.”
When U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Stacy Pearsall recalls the moment when the Army ground unit she was attached to came under attack in Iraq, she notes that her gender did not matter. What mattered was her ability to help her unit fight back. Recounting her story in the New York Times piece “When the Bullets Flew, ‘They Didn’t Care That I Was a Woman,’” Sergeant Pearsall’s heroic efforts are apparent. From her instinct to get out of her vehicle and help her fellow soldiers to the way she dragged an injured soldier twice her weight to safety, you would never know that Sergeant Pearsall was actually a military photographer, one of the few non-combative positions that women were allowed to hold in the U.S. military until now.
Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta’s announcement revoking the ban on women in combat is a significant moment for the U.S. military that further closes the gap that still exists between women and men in the workforce. Before, women in the U.S. military could only be “attached” to units (rather than being actual members) and were limited to non-combative jobs, the lift of this ban is momentous for women like Sergeant Pearsall who deserve recognition for their service.
To skeptics who question if this policy change will truly help improve the U.S. Military’s efforts, Sergeant Pearsall has an answer: “Yes, women can do it, and I already have.”
For more information on support for women in the U.S. Military, visit the Service Women’s Action Network (S.W.A.N.): http://servicewomen.org/