Local News

Times Have Changed for Females in Military

Posted October 15, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Equal rights, equal opportunity, equal recognition -- those are the things women military women are thinking about this week as women are being honored in Washington, DC for their years of service in the US military. Much has changed for female soldiers over the years.

A half a century ago, women working alongside male soldiers was unthinkable. Today close to 200,000 women are on active duty. Private First Class Nicole Nichols, of the 82nd Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg is the only woman in her platoon at Fort Bragg. She says she's not on the front lines, but she works in a man's world.

Most of the armed services still do not allow women in units that involve combat situations. Still, Nichols say she thinks the military has come a long way based on comparing her experience with that of her mother who was also in the army for more than 20 years ago.

First Lt. Jennifer Belden, also of the 82nd Aviation Brigade, says she feels women are capable of doing the job.

Most soldiers say the military is like the civilian world in that there's always room for improvement.

so far, no women have formally challenged the no combat rule. Many women say they don't envision themselves in those kinds of roles, but say they do know of women who would like the chance to fight alongside men.

Photographer:Mike Joyner