Women Soldiers Reflect On New Army Career Options

By Tom Banse

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Pentagon's decision to allow women in combat roles has some female soldiers rethinking their career trajectories. Correspondent Tom Banse has the story of a Northwest soldier stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (near Tacoma, Wash.).

Spc. Heidi Olson (left) and Major Sheila Medeiros reflect on their career options at JBLM.Army Spc. Heidi Olson received a Purple Heart last year for shrapnel injuries she got during a foot patrol in Afghanistan. She feels she's earned the right to call herself a combat medic.

Heidi Olson: "Originally as a female, I wasn't allowed to be titled as a combat medic. It was a 'health care specialist.'"

Now the 24-year-old Springfield, Oregon native says she's debating with herself and with her fiancée whether to try out for Special Forces, provided the commando unit opens to women.

Heidi Olson: "I joined to make history. That was why I joined the Army, to help break down some of these barriers that have been there."

Olson agrees with other female soldiers we interviewed that there's unlikely to be a rush to get into previously closed positions. Soldiers of both sexes - without exception - said they hope the military brass doesn't lower standards to integrate combat units.

Photo: Spc. Heidi Olson (left) and Major Sheila Medeiros reflect on their career options at JBLM. By Tom Banse.

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