The United States House Armed Services Committee approved a bill last week to require women to register for the military draft. If passed, it means 459,000 women in Texas would be eligible for the draft.
Captain Peter Van Howe with the United States Army said more women are enlisting in Texas than in years past.
“When I first came in, there was about 14 percent of the contracts that we wrote had women filling positions with the army,” Van Howe said. “This year that number has increased to about 20 percent.”
Van Howe said of the 200 people that have enlisted from the Austin unit this year, 40 of those are women. That’s already more female enlistments than all of those last year, and many of those have specifically been for the combat-related specialties.
In December, the army opened all combat jobs to women in the military, and earlier this month the army announced 22 females had already volunteered to serve in combat infantry and armor units.
“I want to join infantry,” Lizeth Albarran said. “I just want people to be looking up at me and say you can actually do it. She did, I can do it. Obviously it’s a hard job, not every woman does it, but we can prove that women can do it.”
Lizeth and her twin sister, Lizebeth, enlisted in the United states army in Austin on Monday. The two 17-year-old dancers said they do absolutely everything together, so joining the army together was a no-brainer.
“We’ve always done everything pretty much together,” Lizebeth said. “Taking this big step about joining the army is probably the best step that we have taken together as twin sisters.”
Capt. Van Howe said the army is taking a five step approach for integrating women. Right now, the first women in the infantry are serving in actual infantry battalions. Those officers will eventually command the next group of recruits, like Lizeth and Lizebeth.
Texas has enlisted the first female artillery cannon crew member, the first female infantryman, and several combat engineers.
As for the bill approved last week on women in the military draft, it will be presented to the House next month for a vote. The last time there was a military draft was 1973.
Reporter: Anna Wiernicki