MCGREGOR (January 23, 2012)--It's a change nearly 20 years in the making.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is lifting the military's longstanding ban on women serving in combat, opening hundreds of thousands of front-line positions and potentially elite commando jobs after more than a decade at war, senior defense officials said Wednesday.
A ban that dates back to 1994 has kept women from serving in infantry, armor, artillery, and other combat roles in the military, even though in reality, women in the armed forces have found themselves in the middle of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Either way, local Blue Star Mother MaryEllen Maddox says the announcement is a win for equality in the military.
"The women that wish to be in those type of roles now have that opportunity," Maddox said.
"Before today, there was a little bit of a glass ceiling."
Maddox has had three daughters serve in both the Army and Navy. Her youngest daughter, Michelle Kinsley, was a combat medic and just retired a little more than a week ago.
Many women in the military, like Kinsley, have served in combat numerous times but were never recognized for their service.
Since combat roles will now officially be open to women, Maddox hopes that will change.
"They're over there with the men, they're patching them up, they're in support roles, and then they don't get credit for it," Maddox said.
"It didn't seem fair."
Defense officials gave few details about Panetta's decision, the announcement of which is expected Thursday.
Either way, Maddox said that the change is a step in the right direction.