Two women are making military history this week as the first women to graduate from Army Ranger School.
Capt. Kristen Griest, 26, is a military police platoon leader who received a bronze star during her deployment in Afghanistan last spring, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver, 25, is an Apache attack helicopter pilot. Both women graduated from Ranger School this week.
The Ranger Schools is notorious for being one of the most physically and emotionally grueling military training schools in the country. With a less than 50 percent graduation rate, the 62-day program is designed to put soldiers through situations of stress and exhaustion.
Women were admitted to the program for the first time this year in a trial run. 17 women were admitted to the program, but Griest and Haver were the only two to graduate. Major Gen. Austin S. Miller, commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence, said that nothing about the program was changed to accommodate for having female participants, and the women were held to the same standards as the male soldiers.
At a press conference yesterday, men in the program admitted that they were skeptical as to whether or not Griest and Haver could handle the physical demands of the program. 2nd Lt. Michael Janowski remembers a night of training that changed his mind.
“I had a lot of weight on me and I was struggling,” Janowski recounts. “At the halfway point, I asked if anyone could help take this weight.” He said his request was met with silence from the group. Then:
“Shaye was the only one to volunteer to take that weight.” Haver carried the extra weight for the final half of the mission. “She literally saved me,” Janowski said. “I probably wouldn’t be sitting here if not for Shaye. From that point, no more skepticism.”
“At the end of the day everyone was a Ranger,” another solider added.
Of their own accomplishment, the women said they were proud.
“I was thinking really of future generations of women that I would like them to have that opportunity so I had that pressure on myself,” Griest said.
“I think the battles that we won were individual. And the fact that at each event we succeeded in, we kind of were winning hearts and minds as we went,” Haver added.
Currently, even though the women have graduated from Army Ranger School, they are still not allowed to take part in front-line combat. That policy may change this fall.
Media Resources: CNN 8/20/15; Ledger-Enquirer 8/20/15; CNN 8/20/15; NPR 8/19/15;