Professor of Gender and War. University of Sydney

Plaintiff in lawsuit against combat exclusion for women speaks out

SUMMARY: Major Mary Jennings Hegar was wounded in combat action while in Afghanistan during 2009, and was awarded with a Purple Heart. Hegar is one of four plaintiffs, all of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan, that challenged the constitutionality of the US military’s policy that banned women from combat back in 2012 (prior to the DoD repealing the policy). The lawsuit originally noted, ‘Major Hegar is barred categorically by the (DoD’s) current combat exclusion policy and practice from competing for certain combat positions solely because of her gender. If she were not barred from those positions, Major Hegar would seek to cross-train for a ground combat position, which would be advantageous for her career.’ After DoD repealed this combat exclusion policy, the lawsuit claimed that the restricted opportunities afforded to women inhibit career advancements and denies women the ‘component of full citizenship: serving on equal footing in the military defense of our nation.’ Hegar is now a publicly vocal advocate for the repeal of this policy with no exceptions, stating ‘Gender is not predictive of a warrior spirit.’

SOURCE: Virginia Black, May 25 2015, ‘Wife, mother, Purple Heart recipient tries to break down barriers,’ South Bend Tribune: Local,  

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