To survive the battlefield you've got to be tough. And the life of a soldier is no longer a men's-only club.
After three tours in Afghanistan MAJ Mary Hegar has the scars to prove it.
"I was wounded but I was still doing my job, still calm under pressure, not exhibiting the stereotypical characteristics that people are trying to say that women would exhibit under combat (conditions)," she said.
When her helicopter went down she helped save both wounded patients and her crew. She has a purple heart and distinguished flying cross with valor.
But the "combat exclusion policy" kept her from pursuing ground positions later. And throughout her career she saw discrimination first-hand.
"I had an instructor during pilot training try to fail me out...it finally came out that he was trying to stop women from becoming pilots."
So she and three other servicewomen took their battle to the home front, filing a lawsuit against Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. He's officially over the department's exclusion policy.
Today, it keeps women from promotions and nearly a quarter million military positions, according to the ACLY.
"It prevents them from even competing for many positions, no matter how qualified or capable they are," says ACLU representative Ariela Migdal.
Last week, the Pentagon responded.
"I think he's made it clear the Secretary remains very committed to examining the expansion for roles for women in the U.S. military," spokesperson George Little said, "we expect that process to continue."
Which makes people like Mary feel optimistic. She believes Secretary Panetta is progressive enough to put an end to the blanket policy.
"I think he really want to lift it but he needs the catalyst in which to do it, so were giving it to him," she said with a smile.
Potentially paving hundreds of thousands of new paths for women to serve their country.