POSTED: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 1:15pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 24, 2013 - 1:19pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will end the 19-year-old ban on women serving in combat.
"I think this is a great advancement in advancing women's equality in the military service," says Army Reservist Jennifer Hunt.
Lifting the ban on women in combat is exactly what Hunt was after when she and others sued the Pentagon last year to do away with the ban.
Panetta's decision follows a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, where female service members have often been exposed to fighting.
More than a thousand women were wounded, more than 150 killed.
"Women have been fighting in these combat roles for a long time, they just haven't been getting the credit for it. They haven't been earning what is due to them because of it and they haven't been able to be promoted," says Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Still, not everyone thinks it's a good idea.
"The extended endurance that is needed. As I say, we have enough problems sometimes with men," says retired Marine Sgt. Major Mark O'Laughlin.
Panetta's decision lifts a ban that's been in place since 1994.
He's directing the services to implement the change by May 15th.