By Michelle Durham

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — US defense secretary Leon Panetta was expected to announce today that American women will be allowed by policy onto the front lines of combat.

Today, we visited a veterans’ center in Old City Philadelphia to get reaction from men and women who have served our country.

At the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service and Education Center, on North 4th Street near Race, we found Aronda Smith (top photo), who served as an Army medic.

“Yes, I served in Desert Storm,” she said. “I’m an Army vet, served three years, five months.  I believe that women have the ability to serve in combat, and I think those who choose to serve should be able to serve.”

Stanley Sheldon (below), who served in the Army in Vietnam, says he is no stranger to seeing women in combat.

(Stanley Sheldon.  Credit: Michelle Durham)

(Stanley Sheldon. Credit: Michelle Durham)


“I have. I served with them back then, and I learned a lot from some females too,” Sheldon tells KYW Newsradio.

And former Army nurse Marsha Four (below), who also served in Vietnam, agrees — and is delighted with the change in US military policy.

“We have proven ourselves as committed, and I say to the Department of Defense, ‘Finally — finally we are there.’  We are coming of age.”

(Marsha Four.  Credit: Michelle Durham)

(Marsha Four. Credit: Michelle Durham)


All of the veterans we spoke with were in favor of the decision.  They know the country will have to offer additional services to the women who return from front-line combat, but as Marsha Four pointed out, women have been there — from 1776 to today.  The combat service may have been unofficial, but they have still been there and served with pride.

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