By Jennifer M Novak, Opinion Writer
You’re in the woods, and there is no light in sight. You can feel the heat of a wound that ripped through your flesh, never even seeing a bullet coming. You can feel the intensity of your pounding heart, memories flooding your mind, and all the sacrifices you have made in order to protect the country you love—Missing the birth of your first child, countless family birthdays, and a number of celebrations which continued in your absence while you put your life on the line every day—a life that appears to be slipping away.
Suddenly, you can hear grass crunching under footsteps, a light begins to shine on you and hope starts to be restored in your heart that you will, in fact, be rescued. “It must be a Ranger Joe,” you think to yourself (A Ranger Joe is a man that comes out into the battlefield, saving as many wounded soldiers as possible).
The Ranger Joe kneels beside you, and just as they are about to remove their head gear, you can see that the Ranger Joe is actually a Ranger “Jill”. Confusion sweeps over your blood-stained face and you cannot fathom the fact that a woman has come here to rescue you.
Roughly half of the population is inhabited by women, yet they are discouraged when it comes to enlisting in the military. Service provides many Americans with a sense of pride and admiration for their country, but women are neglected from this opportunity. According to the 2014 Demographics Report for the military, women make up a mere 15.1 percent of all Active Duty Soldiers.
While women are finally able to join different branches of the United States Military, but the question still remains even today: are women capable of being Ranger Joes? A Ranger Joe needs to possess the strength to be able to physical remove wounded soldiers from the field and carry them to safety. Because of this demand for physical strength, many are unsure as to whether or not women should be permitted to serve this important role.
Even though all throughout history women have been proving the strength that they possess, these questions still remain. I don’t know about you, but I would definitely be reassured if Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles was the Ranger “Jill” coming to rescue me in battle.
I, myself, went to Georgia in 2015, in order to visit and support my brother, who was in basic training for the United States National Guard in Fort Benning, Georgia. During one of our trips, my brother, Robert, decided that while he had a free day—his first free day in three months—he wanted to purchase some quality gear from one of the Ranger Joe stores in Georgia.
As my family and I were attempting to leave the store, a woman sporting a microphone, and a man behind her holding a camera, stopped my mother and I and asked us if we could be interviewed. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity. She asked my mother and I if we thought that women should be able to receive the proper training to become Ranger Joes.
Without hesitation, I proclaimed “Yes! Women should most definitely be able to participate in this specific field of the military.”
Questions about strength were thrown around left and right, and I could not believe that debates on whether or not women possess enough strength to do this was still taking place. As a woman, there is no doubt in my mind that we are strong and able and more importantly, capable of becoming Ranger Joes.
Should the training be “toned” down for us solely because we are women? Of course it shouldn’t be! Being a Ranger Joe is a specific job that seeks out people who possess specific traits, and gender should not even be considered a factor in determining who is qualified.
So next time you think and picture your family and friends out in the battlefield, injured and waiting for rescuing; do you really think that the gender of the person who saved their lives will matter?
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 13th print edition.
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