17 Things Women Are Already Doing In The Military

They’ll now be formally allowed in combat roles, but they’ve been on patrol, earning honors, and risking their lives for years.

1. Patrolling cities

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Sargent Sheena Adams patrols a bazaar in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, November 2010.

2. Directing large equipment

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

A female soldier directs convoys at the Iraq-Kuwait border, December 2011.

3. Mixed martial arts fighting with men

Jose M. Osorio/Chicago Tribune / MCT

Army Staff Sgt. Jackelyn Walker fights Pfc. Gregory Langarica at Fort Hood, Texas, February 2012. Before women were allowed in combat, they could compete against men in mixed martial arts tournaments on bases.

4. Falling in love

Gregory Bull, File / AP

Nikki and Lisa, both active duty sailors in the Navy, kiss at the Gay Pride Parade in San Diego, July 2011.

5. Briefing male service members

Us Army / Reuters

First Lt. Nalise Gaither in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, May 4, 2012.

6. Testing safety equipment made just for them

Mark Humphrey / AP

Female soldiers test out the first body armor designed for women’s bodies, on a firing range in Kentucky, September 2012.

7. Training for emergencies

Kristin M. Hall, File / AP

Capt. Sara Rodriguez carries sandbags as part of Expert Field Medical Badge training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, May 2012.

8. Meeting with Cabinet secretaries

Jason Reed - Pool / Getty Images

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meets a female soldier in Afghanistan, June 2011.

Jason Reed - Pool / Getty Images

9. Fighting for equality


Capt. Zoe Bedell of the Marine Corps sued the Pentagon over the policy of excluding women from combat. “We can’t have a policy that says I’m not allowed to compete,” she said.

10. Getting injured in the line of duty

Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Rep. Tammy Duckworth lost both legs in Iraq. Now she’s an outspoken advocate for veterans.

11. Earning Purple Hearts


Sgt. Jennifer Hunt receives the honor for wounds she sustained in Iraq, where she was hit by a roadside bomb.

12. Helping others recover

Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune / MCT

Melissa Stockwell, the first female soldier to lose a limb in the Iraq War, fits a client with a new prosthetic leg, December 2012.

13. Having families

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Air Force Senior Airman Crystal Bryant (left) and her friend, USAF Airman 1st Class Kelly Goodman, at a baby shower for service members and their partners sponsored by a nonprofit group, October 2009.

14. Taking showers

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Men and women of the 1st Battalion 8th Marines, Regimental Combat team II have worked out a showering system. November 2010.

15. Doing outreach in the field

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Female engagement teams are trained for situations where men might not be welcome, like interacting with women and children. This is Lance Corporal Riane Donoho, 21, of the Marines with Afghan children, November 2010.

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Master Sargent Cherelle Peters-Williams with Afghan children, November 2010.

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Seargent Sheena Adams (left), Lance Corporal Kristi Baker (right), and U.S. Marines and Hospital Corpsman Shannon Crowley, members of a Female Engagement Team, November 2010.

16. Providing medical care

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Hospital Corpsman Amy Housley, part of a Female Engagement Team, checks an Afghan child’s heartbeat, November 2010.

Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

Lance Corporal Luz Lopez plays with an Afghan baby during medical outreach, November 2010.

17. Giving their lives

Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

The Eyes Wide Open exhibition in California includes a pair of boots for every one of the 481 California servicemen and women who died in the Iraq War — 146 women have been killed in uniform since 2001.

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