Military service ability not gender based

This is in response to Tom Woodman’s letter (June 18) regarding men’s superiority in the role of drill sergeant. While I am not a member of any of our armed forces nor claim any first-hand experience with the rigors of duty, I have the utmost respect for Woodman’s service to our country.

I do not, however, agree with his opinion that female drill sergeants downgrade “the best tradition of manhood” and “subordinate [it] to a female wannabe.”

This degrading and frankly disrespectful attitude toward women reflects the disturbingly pervasive sexism women have faced since Congress first began debating their role in the military in 1779.

Women’s bodies are physically different from men – this is largely undebatable. There are, however, exceptions to the rules of physical ability, and any woman who can meet the standards of duty should not be held back by what boils down to old-fashioned notions of women’s role in society.

There will always be women who cannot meet rigorous military standards, be it for drill sergeant or basic training. But there are also men who are not physically or mentally cut out for those same roles. As our government begins to address and rethink the role of women in combat, standards for duty are not being dropped to include women, but re-evaluated in a way that is no longer gender-based.

If women reaching parity with men in combat roles brings down our country’s military reputation as Woodman believes, that speaks more to our country’s standards of duty than to women’s presence.

Today there are more than 2,000,000 female veterans, each of whom deserves the respect and pride of the country they served.

The first woman to ascend to the top drill sergeant spot, Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa King, said it best: “When I look in the mirror, I don’t see a female, I see a soldier.”

Christa Eberhard