2 Graduating Rangers, Aware of Their Burden
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First Lt. Shaye Haver, an Apache attack helicopter pilot who on Friday will be one of the first women to graduate from the Army’s elite Ranger School, wants to remain an aviator. But she takes away weighty lessons from her grueling Ranger training: “Your mind can take a whole lot more than your body,” she said.
“I think I would be crazy to say” that the thought of quitting never occurred, she said on Thursday in her first public appearance since completing the exhausting nine-week course of little sleep and constant hiking with backpacks, water, weapons and other gear that weighed more than 100 pounds. But, Lieutenant Haver said, “the ability to look around to my peers and see that they were sucking just as bad as I was kept me going.”
The other woman poised to make history by graduating Friday, Capt. Kristen Griest, said that if the Army ever allowed women to take the final step into combat, she may want to join the Special Forces. Captain Griest admitted she felt “internal pressure” over how her performance could affect future opportunities for women.
Yet she said their accomplishment showed “what they can expect from women in the military, that we can handle things physically and mentally on the same level as men, and that we can deal with the same stresses and training.”
And Captain Griest was blunt about what should never happen: “No woman that I know wants to go to Ranger School if they change the standards, because then it degrades” the designation, she said.
At a news conference on Thursday, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter reiterated the Pentagon’s position that “all ground combat positions will be open to women unless rigorous analysis” from the services gives a compelling reason they should not be gender-neutral. Decisions are expected around the New Year.
He welcomed the graduation of the female Rangers. “Like every Ranger fighting today,” Mr. Carter said, “they will help lead the finest fighting force in the world.” But for many military women, the graduation ceremony is the ultimate confirmation that there should be no limits on what women can achieve.
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