WASHINGTON,DC (WUSA) ---Lory Manning, the director of the Women in the Military Project and the Womens' Research and Education Institute proclaimed "Hooray" Wednesday evening after learning the pentagon is about to lift its ban on women in combat.
"It's important because we have been trying to integrate women fully in the military since 1948. For 65 years there has been a slow progression of what women have been allowed to do in the military.
This is the last stop on the road. Women are now fully integrated into the military. This is what this means," she told WUSA-9.
Manning is a retired Navy captain who spent 25 years in the service after enlisting in 1969, and volunteering for service in Viet Nam, an offer that was refused.
The ban on women in combat limited her navy career. "It not only was a hinderance, it made me less able to do my job," she said.
"(It was) totally frustrating. I was in the Navy and I wanted heart and soul to go to sea."
Manning would fly to aircraft carriers to consult on military issues, but was forced to fly away at night because she was not allowed, as a woman in the Navy, to stay on board.
"It's ridiculous, particularly when the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders are allowed to stay overnight because they are not in the Navy,"she said.
She has a simple explanation for the decision to change the policy.
"It's been made because women have earned it. Women, for the last 10 years in Iraq and Afghanistan, have been in ground combat, and it's been a slow time coming but the services and our civilian leadership is finally recognizing them and saying 'yes, what you've done has been good. It's helped the country. Let's make it official. Let's open it all to you. You've already proved you can do it,'" she said.
Army Reserve Staff Sergeant Jennifer Hunt, of Gaithersburg, is one of four women suing the military, arguing the ban on women in combat is unconstitutional. She heard the word Wednesday while teaching a class in Tennessee, and said she left the room to do " a happy dance": before returning to the training.
"This has been important for me because, from my own personal experience, the common exclusion policy really didn't reflect the reality of my service and the service of other women in the military.
"I thought that it really need to be changed to reflect what I have experienced, the service I have rendered for this country and for the women coming after me who would like to have more of an opportunity to play more of a larger role in the military," Hunt told WUSA-9.