SANTA MARIA - The Pentagon has announced an historic policy change it says will bring gender equality to the U.S. Military.
"Its clear to all of us, that women are contributing in unprecedented ways to the military's mission of defending the nation", said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at a press conference announcing women will now be allowed to serve in combat if they are qualified.
Panetta stressed there will be no lowering of physical and mental testing standards and other measures military trainers and evaluators use to determine combat readiness.
"If they are qualified for the job, they should be allowed to serve regardless of gender, race, creed or sexual orientation", Panetta added.
"I thought it was cool", says first year community college student Naomi Nodwall who says she's thinking about a career in the military, "its almost sexist to think that we're weaker and say we can't do what the men can do."
College campuses have long been fertile grounds for military recruitment and its where this historic military policy change is being warmly received.
"I think if women want to (serve in combat) they should be allowed to", adds college student Alex Hudson who says she too considered joining the military.
A military recruiter tells Central Coast News he does not expect the policy change to affect how he does business, adding the focus remains on finding the person who is right to serve in the military.
Those in everyday life says its a policy change that is long overdue.
"Demi Moore did it", says Sharon Amott with a laugh, "its fine if women in the military are in administrative roles or working in the office, but if they choose to be in combat they should be allowed to, they have been waiting for this for a long time."
"We want equal rights, isn't that what its all about", adds Penny Allen Andrade.
"Not just the in military but in any job", adds Dolly Motley, "if the woman can do it just as good as the man she should get it, her gender shouldn't matter."
Women currently make up about 15 percent of all active-duty military.
The Pentagon expects to phase in the policy change between now and 2016.
Saturday, May 18 2013 11:15 AM EDT2013-05-18 15:15:59 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - The Lompoc Fire Department held its lottery on Friday morning for local groups to sell "safe and sane" fireworks for its upcoming Fourth of July celebration. Fire officials held a blindMore >>
LOMPOC, Calif. - The Lompoc Fire Department held its lottery on Friday morning for local groups to sell "safe and sane" fireworks for its upcoming Fourth of July celebration.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:26 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:26:42 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - Lompoc City Fire Department is bringing on six new firefighters thanks to a $ 1.5 million grant that works out to about $500,000 a year. "So the six new firefighters that we are swearing-inMore >>
$1.5 million grant used to hire six new firefighters and promote from within.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:24 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:24:06 GMT
LOMPOC, Calif. - Jack Rodenhi has been a CPA and tax accountant in Lompoc for more than 30 years. He says 501(c )4 charitable organizations are required to be involved in social welfare activities onlyMore >>
Century-old non-profit tax exemption at heart of IRS debate and scandal in Washington D.C.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 1:18 AM EDT2013-05-18 05:18:33 GMT
PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Pismo Beach Police confirm that a missing at-risk man from Lompoc has been found after a good samaritan saw his photo in the news. Pismo Beach Police say 24-year-old Blake LewoltMore >>
PISMO BEACH, Calif. - Pismo Beach Police confirm that a missing at-risk man from Lompoc has been found after a good samaritan saw his photo in the news.More >>