The Pentagon announced earlier this week that it was lifting the ban on women in combat positions in the U.S. military. And today Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and General Martin E. Dempsey shared with The New York Times why they made this historic decision. For both of them, it came down having met and talked to many women capably and bravely performing difficult posts. Said Panetta, “To go out now and to see women performing the roles that they are performing and doing a great job at it, I think it just encouraged me. I think it encouraged all of us that everybody should have a chance to perform at any mission, if they can meet the qualifications.”
These words made me think of this powerful TEDx talk from airwoman Jennifer J. Allara, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.
“Iraq and Afghanistan — if you’ve been there, you have a story,” says Master Sergeant Allara in this talk given at TEDxScottAFB. “Mine starts at zero three thirty. For those of you who don’t know military time, that’s 3:30 am.”
In this talk, Allara tells the story of her final mission in Afghanistan, the comrade who didn’t make it through and how that day has affected her for years to come. She tells this emotional story to stress the importance of soldiers recognizing when they are not okay and need to seek help for the complicated emotions and thoughts that swirl around them. Allara encourages people to simply ask each other: are you okay?