Hawaii congresswomen react to combat policy change for women

Hirono, Hanabusa, Gabbard applaud move by Pentagon

 UPDATED 2:16 PM HST Jan 23, 2013
Soldier Fires Gun
WASHINGTON -

Congresswomen in the Hawaii delegation on Capitol Hill responded to the Pentagon's announcement Wednesday that the U.S. military is ending its policy of excluding women from ground combat roles.

Sen. Mazie Hirono says today's news is a great step toward equality.

"These restrictions that block women from serving in active combat roles make no sense in today’s modern military. All Americans deserve the opportunity to defend our nation regardless of gender, and I know that the women who currently serve in the military think they should be treated the same as any other servicemember," said Hirono.  "Women serving in combat roles will strengthen our national security, and as a member of the Armed Services Committee, I will work closely with military and administration officials to see this change through."

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa says women have played an integral role in our military.

"I applaud the Department of Defense for eliminating this outdated policy and recognizing the important, evolving role of women in the Armed Forces. I believe that all qualified Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, should be given the same opportunity to serve their country," said Hanabusa.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran, says she had the honor of serving with incredibly talented female soldiers who would serve as great assets in our ground combat units.

"Today is a historic day for not only women currently serving in our armed forces, but for all of the women who have selflessly put their lives on the line in theaters of war throughout our nation’s history. Female service members have contributed on the battlefield as far back as the Civil War, when some disguised themselves as men just to have the opportunity to serve their nation," said Gabbard.  "This decision by the Department of Defense is an overdue, yet welcome change, which I strongly support.  I look forward to hearing the details of how this will be executed, and will support full and equal access for our highly capable female service members to serve our country in all roles, which will only stand to strengthen our Armed Forces, and our national defense.  This change is a huge step toward maximizing their potential, and honoring the tremendous sacrifices that our military women have made throughout history."

There are about 800 women in the Hawaii Air National Guard and Hawaii Army National Guard.

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