NewsNation | January 24, 2013
>>> are pleased to announce that we are eliminating the direct ground combat exclusion rule for women .
>> that, of course, defense secretary leon panetta . the pentagon just within the last hour. joining me now, an iraq war veteran , tulsi gabbard of hawaii. just this month, one of the combat vets to serve in congress. thank you for your service there and of course thank you for your service protecting our country. what was your initial reaction when you heard the details at least yesterday receiving this announcement formally from secretary panetta?
>> first of all, aloha, tamron. it is wonderful to share this moment with you and your viewers because it is a moment of great significance. personally for myself and for my sisters, all the women who have worn the uniform, this change, this policy change from the d.o.d. really gives an official recognition to jobs, sacrifices and service women in uniform have been making for generation generations.
>> we got a statement in from the president on opening of combat units to women . let's read a part of what the president said. today by moving to open more military positions including ground combat units to women , our armed forces have taken another historic step toward harnessing, the talents and skills of our students. this milestone reflects the service of women through more than two centuries of american history and the indispensable role of women in today's military and talks about the ultimate sacrifice, congresswoman, so many women made, including more than 150 women given their lives in iraq and afghanistan. he said the president, says that he was absolutely confident that as the repeal of don't ask don't tell, the professionalism of the armed forces ensure a smooth transition and keep the military the very best in the world. do you feel confident in a smooth transition? some say this is not the appropriate place for women . conservative organizations coming out and others say they're worried women will not meet the same physical standards as their male counterparts.
>> i have to smile a little bit when i hear you say those things. that the critics are talking about. i have heard people cite studies, talking about how women are not well equipped to serve and what goes through my mind saying that are the incredible women that i have had the honor of serving with and those who i have heard stories about, women like sergeant hester, the first woman since world war ii to earn a silver star . she was a military police sergeant. serving in iraq in 2005 . and she led her squad of mps against a very, very hot insurgent attack, flanked the enemy, assaulted two trench lines and at the end saved american lives. and it's stories like sergeant hester's and countless women who throw out every argument that the critics have said because it's real. these are patriots putting their lives on the line for our country, selflessly. they happen to be women .
>> oh wow. thank you so much for making time . i know you're very busy. still acclimating yourself to the new town.
>> it snowed today.
>> well, you will get a lot of that over the years. thank you so much.