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Times Have Changed for Females in Military

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FORT BRAGG — Equal rights, equal opportunity, equalrecognition -- those are the things women military women are thinkingabout this week as women are being honored in Washington, DC for theiryears 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 wasunthinkable. Today close to 200,000 women are on active duty. PrivateFirst Class Nicole Nichols, of the 82nd Aviation Brigade at Fort Bragg isthe 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 thatinvolve combat situations. Still, Nichols say she thinks the military hascome a long way based on comparing her experience with that of her motherwho was also in the army for more than 20 years ago.

First Lt. Jennifer Belden, also of the 82nd Aviation Brigade, says shefeels 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. Manywomen say they don't envision themselves in those kinds of roles, butsay they do know of women who would like the chance to fight alongsidemen.

Photographer:Mike Joyner

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