They sacrifice just as much as the men they serve beside -- and in some ways more -- but women in the military face discrimination when it comes to the positions they can hold and the services they receive.
It's time for that to end. The women who serve us deserve more.
On Wednesday, two women soldiers sued the U.S. military over its prohibition against women serving in combat positions.
Though more positions have been opened up to women, there are still many they cannot hold.
"This limitation on plaintiffs' careers restricts their current and future earnings, their potential for promotion and advancement, and their future retirement benefits," the women said in the suit filed in U.S. District Court. It is a violation of their Fifth Amendment right to equal protection.
The reality is that on today's battlefields women are already serving in combat roles. More than 130 have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The ACLU is working to end the current discrimination against military women, which bars them from 250,000 different positions.
Unfortunately, this is not the only discrimination military women face. Servicewomen are also prevented from accessing abortion care. Their insurance only covers abortions if their life is in danger. It does not even include an exception for rape. And, in today's military, sexual assault is a pervasive and horrifying problem.
When Jessica Kenyon was raped by a fellow soldier while serving in Korea, she didn't report it because she feared reprisal. And that's exactly what happened. A military doctor told Kenyon's commanding officer she was pregnant before the doctor even informed her. That officer charged Kenyon with adultery. She was unable to get an abortion on-base or off-base.
The Shaheen Amendment to the defense authorization act would end the prohibition against abortion coverage for servicewomen who are raped. Yesterday, it cleared a key hurdle when the Senate Armed Services Committee passed it.
"This is about equity," Shaheen said. "Civilian women who depend on the federal government for health insurance - whether they are postal workers or Medicaid recipients - have the right to access affordable abortion care if they are sexually assaulted. It is only fair that the thousands of brave women in uniform fighting to protect our freedoms are treated the same."