Mike Haynie, executive director and founder, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University:
"Yesterday Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey announced the rescission of the 1994 Direct Ground Combat Definition and Assignment Rule for women, and by doing so removed gender restrictions from 237,000 military vocations previously closed to female service members. The decision is historic in the context of this nation's experience with an all-volunteer force. In the face of this decision, in the coming months and years, the Department of Defense will undoubtedly work to update and adapt processes, systems, and infrastructure, as required to fully and appropriately integrate female service members into previously gender-restricted combat roles. In a similar way, it is critically important that the Department of Veterans Affairs--and other federal and state agencies tasked with supporting the post-service needs of the nation's veterans, as well as veteran service organizations--engage now in efforts to fully understand what implications yesterday's decision may have for the existing infrastructure which supports the post-service life course of our female service members and their families. That is, we do not fully understand how (or even if) opening previously gender-restricted combat roles to women will impact the post-service system of supportive services designed to facilitate a healthy and effective transition to civilian life. As such, yesterday's announcement also represents a call to action to stakeholders in the veterans community. We must take steps now to understand the implications of this historic decision as it relates to post-service concerns, so that in the future, those female service members serving in previously restricted military vocations are subsequently supported and empowered as they make the transition from military to civilian life."