WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today issued the following statement following the Pentagon’s announcement to open all combat roles to women:

“Over the past 14 years, women have honorably served our nation – in combat – in the longest war in American history. Today’s announcement opens the door for women to hold specific combat related military occupational specialties. I support providing women the opportunity to serve in any capacity, as long as standards are not lowered and it enhances our combat effectiveness. The decision to open up all military occupational specialties to women is one that must be a military decision, and not a political one.

“I am proud of all women who serve in our armed forces, especially the ones that have recently led the way as the first females to enter previously all male training schools, like the U.S. Army Ranger School and the Marine Corps School of Infantry.

“I look forward to hearing more from the military service chiefs about their recommendations to the Secretary of Defense after the years-long studies they’ve done regarding gender integration.”

Senator Joni Ernst is the first female combat veteran elected to serve in the United States Senate and served in the military for more than 23 years. She received her undergraduate degree from Iowa State University where she joined the university’s ROTC program. After graduating, Ernst was commissioned as an officer in U.S. Army Reserves, and after a few years in the Reserves, transferred to the Iowa National Guard. In 2003, she served as a company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading 150 Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Senator Ernst retired from the military on November 30, 2015 as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard.

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