Several local veterans support the role women have in American armed forces, they told Marion Middle School students on Nov. 11.
Women serve in all branches of the U.S. military but are restricted from many combat roles. Retired Col. Dick Schwartz said women do a good job, despite the objections of some people.
Every woman working in a technical field frees up another soldier to fight on the front lines, he said. He doesn’t support assigning women to combat roles.
Navy veteran Dan Holub has three daughters serving in the Middle East. He said female soldiers face danger, despite being excluded from certain duties. Infantry soldiers aren’t the only ones at risk from mortars and roadside bombs.
His daughters appreciate receiving equal treatment compared to men, he said.
Jim Davis, Roger Hannaford, Bill Holdeman, Garry Klose, and Terry Nystrom joined Schwartz and Holub in the assembly.
Holub also spoke about the stress of having family members in the military. Whenever the phone rings at 6 a.m. he worries that something has happened to one of his children
Although the assembly addressed some serious issues, the veterans kept a light tone. Throughout the assembly they cracked jokes about whichever branches of the military they hadn’t served in.
Near the end of the gathering, they spoke about the benefits of serving in the military. The pay doesn’t appear outstanding at first glance, they said, but meals and housing are provided.
Money for education is another benefit to enlisting. Military personnel qualify for hefty reimbursements of college expenses, and some qualify for complete reimbursement.
Because the United States uses an all-volunteer military, leaders have made efforts to improve the quality of life for those who enlist, including better living quarters and meals, Holub said.