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Women Veterans Respond to Mike Huckabee's Military Comments

Women Veterans Respond to Mike Huckabee's Military Comments

Last week's first GOP debate in Cleveland was an eventful one, with the Republican hopefuls laying bare their views on hot topics like terrorism, Planned Parenthood, and gay marriage.

When asked about his thoughts on the culture surrounding the military changing — women moving into more combat roles, Don't Ask, Don't Tell being repealed, and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter working with the military to welcome openly transgender persons to serve — former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee had some strong thoughts.

"The military is not a social experiment," said Huckabee. "The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. It's not to transform the culture by trying out some ideas that some people think would make us a different country and more diverse. The purpose is to protect America."

Glamour spoke with three women veterans to get their thoughts on Huckabee’s comments. Here's what they had to say. 

"What a testosterone-filled answer. We go in when diplomacy fails. It doesn’t mean you immediately go in and break things and kill people. Sometimes you just position yourself to keep the peace, and you create a show of force so that you don’t have to ever break things and kill people. The military has always evolved to represent who this country is. So he can call it a social experiment. I call it natural evolutionary progress of a nation. As we evolve as a nation and remind ourselves that this is a volunteer force and that Americans can and should be allowed to volunteer regardless of skin color, or gender, this is just another step. If you’re transgender and you want to serve, come on in. It’s homophobia and it’s men afraid of strong women, and men who think it’s their military, and everybody else is an outsider. And he really voiced all of that with his little response. He just exposed his absolute lack of qualifications to serve as commander-in-chief." —Graciela Tiscareño-Sato, 48, who served in Iraq in the Gulf War as a U.S. Air Force aviator aboard KC-135 aerial refueling tankers, is the author of Good Night Captain Mama, the first bilingual English-Spanish children's book about why "mommies and women serve in uniform."

"The purpose of the military is to protect America. But that does not necessarily mean killing people and breaking things. It's not our intent to go out and kill people. We kill people when we have no choice but to kill people. And we don't break things on purpose. We break things when we have to break things as in dropping explosives on targets. Those are not things we want to do. Those are things we have to do because it is our duty. And as far as his attributing the use of women in combat and the use of homosexuals and transgender [people] in the military, it’s not a social experiment. It's about advancement and equal opportunity to advance. We don't look at it as a social experiment; we look at it as equal opportunity in the workplace." —Jessica King, 43, commander of the National Women Veterans of America in Knoxville, Tenn., and a Marine Corps veteran who served during Operation Desert Storm.

"I think that the purpose of the American military being to protect and defend America can be achieved by including all kinds of Americans. So I don't see in any way how women moving into combat roles is somehow going to shortchange the American people from the mission. The reason why the generals came together and thought about expanding the roles for women in combat was because they recognized the way that we wage war today, in a nonlinear battlefield, with some of the greatest technology in the world, doesn’t require only strength. It requires critical thinking, it requires leadership, it requires the expert use of technology, and those things are not gender- or lifestyle-specific." —Miyoko Hikiji, 38, who is running for the Iowa state senate, and is a nine-year Army veteran who served in an Iraq combat zone from 2003 to 2004.

"I can't speak from a transgender person’s perspective, but from my experience in the military, regardless of what your gender was or your sexual preference, you were there to do a job, and were treated with respect based on how well you did your job. I was one of three females in my job in the Navy on my ship, so if I couldn't pull my weight, it would be an issue. But as long as you can pull your weight, I don't understand why it would matter ... a lot of what we do in the military is educating other countries, other militaries, working with them, innovating ideas. We don't just go somewhere and break stuff and kill people and then just leave. That's not how we do our job." —Melina Gardner, 27, served in Norfolk, Va., aboard the USS Bainbridge, which rescued Captain Richard Phillips, from 2006 to 2011.

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Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images