AUSTIN, Texas - MJ Hegar served for twelve years in the air force as a pilot. That included three tours in Iraq.
“I was shot down during my third tour. We had to defend the perimeter of the crash site,” said Hegar.
She got hurt.
“After I was grounded from being a pilot because of an injury, the next job I was most qualified for I couldn't apply for because it was a ground combat job and I was a woman,” said Hegar.
This was because of the ground combat exclusion policy in the military at the time. In 2012, Hegar and three other servicewomen filed a lawsuit against the Department of Defense. Since then, strides have been made, and women were officially allowed in ground combat just recently but integrating the new policy, that's a different story.
“The lawsuit is still open because we haven’t seen a full integration yet," said Hegar.
Take camp Pendleton in California for example. The Marine Corps camp is a male-only combat training facility.
“The lawsuit was about opening positions and ensuring integration was done well. I guess I could cite this as an example of integration not going well,” said Hegar.
The Marine Corps announced they will consider letting women train with men at the camp. Marine corps officials say they are working to get rid of sexism and related issues however possible. Hegar says the Air Force has already done a good job lately with integration.
“The Air Force does it right and integrates all their training and doesn't really delineate between men and women,” said Hegar.
The military may still have some culture and exclusion issues lingering, but for Hegar and other servicewomen, Camp Pendleton is a step in the right direction.
A representative from the U.S. Marines was not available for comment.