The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 24, 2013

Many, but not all, say allowing women in combat is right call

JOPLIN, Mo. — “Big step” and “open doors” were phrases used Thursday by some of those describing what they thought about the announcement that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on women serving in military combat.

The sentiment was not universal.

Janene Woodruff, battalion commander of the Junior ROTC at Joplin High School, said the move would open more jobs to women. The 17-year-old senior said she wants to be an Army nurse after going to college.

“I think women can do anything they put their minds to,” Woodruff said. “I think it’s a big step for women. They’re being viewed as equal.”

Woodruff also participated in a class discussion about the issue led by 18-year-old Cadet Tiffany Garcia, a senior.

“Any time there is progress, there are going to be people who don’t want to see that change,” Woodruff said.

Tyler Wyeth, 18, a senior, has joined the Marine Corps.

“If a woman can do it, why not?” he said. “We need as many people skilled at that profession as possible.”

He said women are capable of doing anything men can do, with the proper training.

Kelsey Pickard, an 18-year-old senior, already is serving in the Army Reserve.

“I don’t really agree with it,” Pickard said. “I think they should be able to do everything else, but not be on the front line.”

Pickard said she thinks men are more equipped to cope with the emotional impact of killing someone.

“I don’t really think they realize what they would be getting into,” she said about women serving in combat roles.

Senior Chris Hanshaw, 17, goes into Army basic training on May 28, nine days after he is to graduate. He said there are good and bad aspects to women serving in combat.

“Women have a better thinking process than men,” he said. “But women may have more breakdowns or emotional problems. I feel like women are more emotional than men.”

Still, he said he would be comfortable serving beside a woman in combat.

“I’d feel very comfortable,” Hanshaw said. “We’d both have the same training. We’d both be taking orders from a commanding officer.”

Their teacher, Col. Paul Norris, during class discussion said he entered the military when the first influx of women entered the armed forces. He said there were many of the same discussions then, but now women serving in the military is the norm.

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