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New Policy For Women In Military

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In a move announced Wednesday, the United States military has lifted its 1994 rule banning women from serving in ground combat.

The new policy means women are now able to serve on combat patrol or in special operations units.

"It came as a surprise," says Samantha Szesciorka. "This hasn't been building up for weeks that anybody knew of. It was very sudden."

Samantha served in the United States Army from 2004 to 2008. A year of that was spent in Iraq.

"I probably spent 90 percent of my deployment on the frontline in combat operations," she says. 

Samantha was happy when she heard the news, but what most people don't realize, she says, is women have been serving on combat missions for decades now.

"It's silly to think that women weren't on the front lines before this happened," says Samantha. "All this does is sort of give legitimacy to the jobs that women have been doing for years."

Samantha was awarded two combat action badges while serving overseas. She says the majority of male soldiers supported women on the frontline.

"It's one team, and what's under your uniform doesn't matter when it comes down to being in the war zone."

The new policy still gives the military until January of 2016 to find exceptions if they think positions should remain closed to women. It's something Samantha says isn't necessary.

"If they've gotten that far, they're mentally tough, they're physically tough, they've proven themselves."

We asked people in the Reno area what they think of the new policy, and as you might expect, there were mixed reactions.

"If they signed up for it, then they should serve," said Pete Griffin of Reno. "Like everybody else does."

"I don't think they have the strength or the ability to be on the front line with the men," said Susan Russo of Reno. "I think it's just jeopardizing them."

Samantha says the military tests everyone annually. Man or woman, everyone has to keep up physically and mentally.

"There's proficiency tests throughout your career. And so, if you're not keeping up, if you're not doing the job to par, you're not going to stay in that job. That's the same for men, and it should be the same for women."

Men haven't been the only ones sacrificing overseas. Combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken the lives of 130 women, while wounding 800 others.

Written by Adam Rasmussen

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