Army veteran and Rockland County Buffalo Soldier Award honoree Anngela Vasser-Cooper said women should have the opportunity to serve on the front lines. She noted that female soldiers have been close to the heat of battle over many years whether they were delivering ammunition, medications or performing other duties.
“Lifting that ban opens up a lot of opportunities for women to go up the ladder,” she said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey announced last week the removal of rules limiting women’s role in combat and plans to eliminate gender-based barriers to service.
“Women have shown great courage and sacrifice on and off the battlefield, contributed in unprecedented ways to the military’s mission and proven their ability to serve in an expanding number of roles,” Panetta said. “The Department’s goal in rescinding the rule is to ensure that the mission is met with the best-qualified and most capable people, regardless of gender.”
The Nyack resident said if a female soldier believes she is ready mentally and physically she should have the choice of serving on the front lines. She voiced her support for the women who make that decision.
“I take off my hat off and I say kudos to you if you feel that you can do it,” said Vasser-Cooper after she received her award on Tuesday.
She enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1980 as a communications specialist, served one tour in Seoul, South Korea and received a Sharp Shooter Medal and Leadership Certificate. Vasser-Cooper is the founder and CEO of Women Veterans Association of Hudson Valley, Inc. and a medical social worker at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Manhattan.
Women currently make up approximately 15 percent, or nearly 202,400, of the U.S. military’s 1.4 million active personnel. More than 280,000 women have ben deployed over the past 10 years in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vasser-Cooper is the 21st recipient of the county’s Buffalo Solider Award and the second woman to be presented with it. She is also the second member of her family to be named a Buffalo Soldier. The award is presented to an African American Rockland resident, who served in the military and has demonstrated a commitment to the community.