Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta made history by announcing that women will now be able to serve fully in combat.
For CW2 Michelle Leavins of the 48th Infantry Brigade in Macon, the decision was welcome news. Leavins has served tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan where she drove support vehicles in war zones and also served as a gunner.
"To change now to where women can be in combat isn't such a shock to everyone because we're already there and we're already doing it," Leavins says.
But despite Leavins' tours in two war zones and her 14-year career, she says there was still a glass ceiling for some combat roles and leadership opportunities before Panetta's decision.
"Although we may have been placed in the same situation and we may have experienced the same thing in combat, we have not been open to take the same positions and do the same jobs that males have, which will affect you in your long-term careers," says Leavins.
Leavins says she hopes under the new policy, she will be able to continue her service career in new opportunities, including combat for which she's prepared, she says, because of her training.
Although history can sometimes be slow to change in a regimented command chain like the military, Leavins says women leading by example have gradually played a role.
"If you show up every day and you do what you do, and you do it well, then you become accustomed to it. It becomes assumed."