ETX veterans weigh in on women in combat - KLTV.com-Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville, Texas | ETX News

ETX veterans weigh in on women in combat

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LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) -

A wall of honor lines the inside of VFW Post 1183 in Longview. That wall is full of East Texas men who have fought and fallen for their country.

"People just don't understand the magnitude of war and the horrific things that happen in war and people dying around you and you can't do anything about it," says William Perkins, an Army veteran who fought in Vietnam.

The idea of a woman putting her life at risk on the front line and possibly ending up of a wall of honor does not sit well with Perkins, "I think a woman should be raising her children, raise a warrior, not become a warrior."

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Thomas Long says changing tradition takes time, "It's a new concept, I can understand why people would say, ‘No way it won't happen,' or, ‘It shouldn't happen,' because it even gets down to the basic instinct of the man protects the woman."

Long believes women are just as capable as men to fill front line positions.

"Certainly the same mentality, the same toughness, physically ... There's not a whole lot of physical combat going on these days."

"It's not going to be an easy transition. We're already having problems with sexual abuse. Anytime you put them out there on the front line you're still going to have the same thing," Perkins says.

Still, Perkins wishes women soldiers luck, "If that's what they desire in life, they think they're going to make a contribution, so be it."

"It's America against the world so let's get together," Long says.

Many women have already lost their lives in combat support roles. More than 150 women died in the line of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If military commanders decide there are roles that should remain closed to women, the secretary of defense must sign off on that decision. 

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