For the first time in history, the U.S. Army has opened up thousands of combat jobs to women, and future soldiers in Kentucky and Tennessee have seized the opportunity.
The changes were part of an ongoing campaign to allow women to hold any military position as long as they qualify and meet specific standards.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement in December that nearly 20,000 field artillery jobs were opened to women. The campaign began in 2012, when the Army opened about 14,000 positions previously closed to women.
Abby Sapp, 17, was the first woman in Kentucky to enlist to become an Army Combat Engineer. She learned about the opportunity at the Hopkinsville U.S. Army Recruiting Center.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” said Sapp. “The fact that women can do something more exciting than sitting behind a desk.”
Sapp currently works as a volunteer firefighter for the Greenville Volunteer Fire Department. She said she likes “adrenaline stuff” and is excited to be one of the first women in the country to become a Combat Engineer.
“It sets a lot of high standards,” said Sapp. “It makes me a little nervous, but I think I will be okay and get the job done.”
Recruiters at the Hopkinsville center said Sapp will likely be the first of many women to come through the doors wanting to learn about new opportunities the Army is offering.
“Recently there’s been a lot of interest,” said Sgt. Justin Patton, a recruiter for the U.S. Army. “We’ve had a few females already enlist.”
Sapp said after she graduates from high school she would begin basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri in August. She hoped it would be the first step toward a long career in the Army.