A reader highlights another reason why ending the ban is so crucial:
Without the combat designation, women veterans can be denied the benefits they need, particularly medical and psychological, because they were designated non-combat while serving. Receiving many benefits from the VA is dependent on “if the veteran engaged in combat with the enemy.” A critical part of the approval process is what was the veteran’s designated military occupational speciality. If women will have noncombat MOS even if they engaged in combat because they are women then that means the VA might not approve them for combat related requests for benefits. Women are not being treated equally under the law because of the noncombat designation.
I expect there will be a massive lawsuit on behalf of all the female veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to be retroactively reclassified as having served with combat duty in order to get the medical benefits they will need from the VA for the rest of their lives. Because right now, that shit is being denied and will continue being denied for the entirety of their lives, all because they were designated ‘non-combat’ when they served.
Update from another:
The last reader’s comment regarding women not getting full VA benefits from combat related issues strikes me as utter horseshit. I’m a male serving in a support MOS, along with way more males than females in these non-combat arms MOSs, so wouldn’t I have the same problem (if I had medical issues from combat) regardless of gender but based on MOS? If there is just plain old sexism going on in the VA, then it’s already illegal.
The Combat Action Badge, awarded for directly engaging or being engaged by the enemy, was specifically invented to recognize the combat service of non-infantry MOSs (who are awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and have for a long time). So, if this issue is actually occurring systematically based on “combat designation”, it would be a discrimination based on job description and not actual combat service, and not actually fixed by women in combat arms.
I have (thankfully) had very little to do with the VA health system, but I would guess your previous reader has had even less. From what I understand, if you have documentation that your health issues are combat related the VA will address it. So while it might be a tad harder to justify if you’re not in a combat MOS, it should not be because of gender already.