Updated: Thursday, 24 Jan 2013, 10:53 PM EST
Published : Thursday, 24 Jan 2013, 10:52 PM EST
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) -- The official announcement came from the US military earlier today that the 1994 ban on women in combat has been lifted.
Both women and men have the choice to enlist and serve our country but the debate as to what capacity women can serve in has been a heated one for years. With today's announcement, any woman passing the physical requirements, will be able to fight alongside her male counterparts.
"Not everyone is gonna be able to be a combat soldier but everyone is entitled to a chance," said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Women make up fifteen percent of the one and a half million people serving in the military.
Colonel John Whitford with the Connecticut National Guard said women have served as vital members of the Guard for many years. This is a step in the right direction.
"The CT National Guard is very diverse when it comes to women in the military. We have many in combat service units and combat service support units throughout the state," said Colonel Whitford.
In Connecticut, the National Guard has one combat unit, the first batallion one hundred second infantry out of New Haven. Whitford said the next step is to figure out how to implement the new rules.
"This affords them the opportunity for career progression. It affords them the opportunity for promotion," said Colonel Whitford.
Connecticut is a state with deep military ties.
"There's traditions here where family members have been in the service. Their fathers, grandfathers, brothers. We have a pretty pro-veteran town here," said Paul Sweet.
While women in direct combat roles will be a new chapter for the military, women being killed in action has already hit home for many. One hundred and fifty women have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cindy Beaudoin was killed in Operation Desert Storm back in 1991. She was a member of the Connecticut National Guard serving as a medical technician.
Plainfield First Slectman Paul Sweet said her death changed the way many in his town viewed the role of women in wars. Her name appears on the town memorial.
"Cindy's name is there listed as killed in action and again, like I said, reflecting back, it was a sad time," said Sweet.