Mitchell Reports | December 03, 2012
>>> 280,000 women have served in iraq and afghanistan since 2001 . 144 have died. yet more than 230,000 current positions in the military are closed to female troops. backed by the aclu, four women service members are suing the pentagon for barring them from direct combat duty. zoey is a captain in the u.s. marine corps reserves and plaintiff in the lawsuit, air yell la is a senior staff attorney for the aclu women rights project. thanks so much. captain bodell, you deployed twice to afghanistan and basically left the active duty marines corps because you were blocked from the combat duty. what is the difference, the most important difference, between being able to be in combat and not?
>> well, to be clear, women are serving in combat and i was in charge of a team called the female gaugement team -- engagement team and i had 47 marines and they were in combat if that unit was attacked, they were attacked with them. so i do want to make clear women are in combat and we're asking that the policy be changed to reflect the reality of what's happening on the ground.
>> i mean --
>> exactly. the point you're making is that in these wars, there's to front line, there's no rear guard . once you've deployed you are in combat, you are subject to all of the duties and the risks inherent in that but you're not permitted to have combat status and that designation carries with it a whole raft of implications for your future promotions and other benefits.
>> that's exactly right. women are serving in combat, serving in these roles, but they're not getting -- not being assigned to these units and that's where the discrepancy comes in, the reality isn't matching the policy. so women are not getting opportunities to do all the same training that the units supporting are doing when they go to afghanistan . and then afterwards they're not recognized for the contribution they've made. so whether that's a question getting equal access to veteran benefits or promotion opportunities that -- for jobs that would require combat experience, women aren't getting the recognition there and it means that the best people aren't being selected for the jobs which hurts their military's competitiveness overall.
>> arianna, you're the attorney for this lawsuit. two of the other plaintiffs have received purple hearts , injured while deployed. what is the legal course now? because this has always been such a difficult challenge suing the military.
>> absolutely. the point of the lawsuit is to say that the policy needs to catch up to the reality. the pentagon has opened up a small number of jobs recently, but when you look at the context of 238,000 position closed, including entire career fields, and some training schools that don't allow women in, it's a disservice to say to somebody coming back with a purple heart who has been injured in combat in the service of our country, to say we're not going to officially recognize that you were doing combat duty and that women have the capacity to compete for these positions.
>> briefly, in the time we have left, has the court taken the case? do you have standing? what is the next course legally?
>> yes. so the complaint was filed last week and it is now in federal district court and i think the question for the pentagon is, whether this is a policy that you come in and try to defend at this point after ten years of women doing these jobs.
>> we will follow this closely. please do come back. thank you very much, captain bo dell and arianna mcdowell.