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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Women in combat serve varying standards

School of Infantry-East Training

Different points of view about the evolution of women in combat were discussed in the Women in Combat symposium on Tuesday, held by the Women’s Resource Center and the Veterans Service Office. | Courtesy of Tyler Main

The Veterans Service Office and the Women’s Resource Center teamed up to shine a spotlight on Women’s History Monthduring the Women in Combat symposium Tuesday.

The panelists included active duty members Col. Allan H. Lancetta and Master Sgt. LaShawn Morris, who work in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, and retired Air Force veteran Ralph B. DeVaul.

Veterans Service Office program coordinator and Army reservist Lawren Bradberry was the moderator for the event.

“Every year, for Women’s Awareness and History Month, the Women’s and LGBT Resource Center and the VSO partner to bring awareness to the UH community issues that affect women in service, and one of the hot-button items are women in combat,” Bradberry said.

Harris County is the largest veteran county in the United States, Bradberry said.

“Women in combat and women in the military are two different things,” Bradberry said. “Therefore, people’s opinions can be based on women in the military or just women in general versus those who embark on that voyage to combat. We wanted to bring some education and some real-world experience to the UH community.”

According to the Service Women’s Action Network, more than 150 women have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Women make up of 11.6 percent of OEF and OIF veterans.

“I think it was good to have these people on campus. Everybody agreed more or less women should be in the military but for different reasons and with different contingencies,” said kinesiology junior Kiernan Cobb.

“I have friends who have been in combat, who are medics, who are not directly in combat roles but are in combat anyway. They are already out fighting.”

Cobb also has many family members serving in the Army, Coast Guard, Air Force and National Guard.

She feels the sticking points are the various PT standards and how they are different for men and women.

“It’s a sort of strange thing,” Cobb said. “I know the military has standards.  If you’re going to be a medic, these are your standards; if you’re a pilot, these are your standards. I think that that would make it more inclusive.”

Cobb said she is looking into becoming a medic as well as joining the officer side.

Electrical power engineering junior and Army veteran Kevin Filbin was one of the panelists at the symposium.

“Women in combat and women in a combat arms unit, direct action combat arms infantry unit or the like are two different things, and my issue with women in combat is that women have different hygienic requirements then men, and it’s simply not practical,” Filbin said.

He also believes the entry of women in combat units will also compromise the military’s combat effectiveness.

“At some point, soldiers will be out on patrol months at a time and it just is a problem having to put tampons into the supply line and having to come up with a special latrine and wait for Private Susie to unpack all of her gear and use the restroom,” he said.

Bradberry was pleased with the candid honesty and full integrity from the veteran community during the symposium.

“For the student body and the deputy’s chiefs of staff from Washington to provide inside and to be willing to just come and entertain a small group touches the heart of what we do in the military,” Bradberry said. “We’re here to serve.”

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