A Department of Defense policy bans women from serving in direct combat roles. Now a group of servicewomen from across the country is suing the DOD - saying the policy is illegal and hurts a woman's chances for promotion. ABC7 spoke with one of the plaintiffs, who is an army reservist from Gaithersburg.
As a Civil Affairs Specialist in the Army Reserves, Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a purple heart, after her vehicle was hit by an IED.
A 1994 Department of Defense policy bans women from serving in units with direct ground combat missions. But Hunt says many of the 16,000 women currently deployed are already exposed to combat and deserve recognition.
"It's a policy that doesn't reflect the current realities of the situation," said Hunt. "Women like myself have and are currently putting themselves at the same amount of risk as their male counterparts.
Hunt is one of the four servicewomen based across the country who filed a lawsuit last week against the Department of Defense, saying the policy is illegal and hurts advancement opportunities for women.
The Department of Defense says more than 14,000 jobs previously closed to women have opened to them this year. And this summer, 45 female marines will be assigned to all-male combat battalions.
A D.O.D spokeswoman writes: "The recent openings are the beginning, not the end, of a process. The services will continue to review positions and requirements to determine what additional positions may be opened to women. Our goal is to ensure that the mission is met with the best qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender."
Hunt says this lawsuit isn't calling for a certain number of combat positions to be opened to women - but instead to give women an equal opportunity to compete for the jobs.