2 Female Graduates Set To Receive Army Ranger Tabs

Originally published on August 21, 2015 7:58 am

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Today the Army will make it official in a ceremony at Fort Benning, Ga. Captain Kristin Griest and First Lieutenant Shaye Haver will graduate. They're the first women to make it through one of the most grueling training programs in the military, Army Ranger School. This is part of a military experiment looking at how to integrate women into combat roles. The two women today will be handed an arch-shaped Ranger tab to wear on the left sleeve of the uniform. North Carolina Public Radio's Jay Price reports.

JAY PRICE, BYLINE: That hard-won tab is often the ticket to promotion in the Army, especially in the infantry. The leadership skills that it signifies carry huge weight for anyone who wants to rise through the ranks. For the 94 men who also graduate today, that tab can open a lot of doors. But tens of thousands of combat jobs that they aspire to are closed to Griest and Haver. Maybe not for long, though.

ELLEN HARING: I think the dam's about to break.

PRICE: That's Ellen Haring, a retired Army colonel who studies women's roles in the military. The graduation is such a big moment that she flew in from Washington to see it.

HARING: As long as we were wholly barred from even attending that school there was no proof that we were as capable. So, like I said, I think this represents a sea change in terms of the way women will be perceived in the Army in particular and hopefully in services as well.

PRICE: The two new female Rangers are thinking about that future after the hoopla of their historic graduation. Haver likes her job as an Apache attack helicopter pilot and wants to stick with aviation. But Griest is wondering what else might be possible.

KRISTIN GRIEST: I'm definitely interested to see what new doors do open up for women. I think Special Forces would be something that I would definitely be interested in.

PRICE: Now she just has to wait and see if Special Forces wants to open its doors for her. For NPR News, I'm Jay Price in Columbus, Ga. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.