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Juliette Kayyem @juliettekayyem
, 15 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
This is a story about me in 2013, a Pulitzer finalist recognition, a right that was finally wrong and pilot Tammie Jo Shults of SW Flight 1380, the pro with "nerves of steel." It comes together in the end. 1/
After I left government service, I had the honor of being a @BostonGlobe columnist to write about what I knew: homeland and national security. I was even more blessed by having Peter Canellos, now at @politico, as my exacting editor. 2/
In 2012, I began a series of columns about what I felt was an absurdity and legal injustice: the combat exclusion rule against women. By then, nearly 100 women had died in Iraq and Afghanistan apparently not, according to the Pentagon, "in combat" but we knew otherwise. 3/
The combat exclusion rule was indefensible and I spent time writing about the legal, political and social currents that were pushing a reluctant Pentagon into the 21st Century. B/c of friends at DoD, I also heard/wrote about the internal debates that eventually led to change. 4/
They were easy columns to write: the wrong was so obvious, the women harmed so deserving, and the defense of the rule so antiquated. I focused mostly on the women who were being harmed (benefits, training, etc.) by the rule. 5/
In Jan 2013, the Pentagon changed course and rescinded the combat exclusion rule. On April 15th, 2015, my series were the finalist in commentary @PulitzerPrizes for that year. (I lost to @BretStephensNYT!) . I was proud when I got the call from Peter at 3pm EST. 6/
I was really proud, maybe i had helped move the needle a little, and knew that there were more stories to write. The series is here.… 7/
I thought there were more stories to write, mainly about the women I had missed: those talented and exceptional women who had left the Pentagon because of the rules, whose careers were cut short not b/c of leaning in, but b/c of institutional bias. They were out there. 8/
On April 15, 2013, Peter called me back at 3:02 (the Pulitzer list was published at 3:00pm.) I thought he was going to tell me it was a joke. Instead, he said "did you hear about some explosions at the Boston Marathon?" 9/
No time to celebrate, and I went immediately to the marathon finish line to write, for nearly 3 months, stories of terrorism and resiliency. My professional life would change as well. I eventually left the Globe, never to return to the stories of those women. 10/
And then, this week, one of those woman, a woman whose life might have been different but for the combat exclusion rule, saved lives and steered SW Flight 1380 to safety. "Nerves of steel": you bet. 11/
It turns out that Shults left the Navy, despite all her accomplishments, because there was no where else for her to go once she reached a certain level. The rule had kept her from achieving what she obviously could have achieved: combat fighter pilot status. 12/
Shults career path is still exceptional, and we are all grateful she was in the cockpit this week. But just until 5 years ago, an institutional barrier kept her from her dreams. Here's the story of her leaving the military:…
The combat exclusion's rule impact harmed generations of women and it was only repealed five years ago. There are thousands of Shults' out there. And it was their performance in the military that led so many to believe "we have the best and then we make them go." 14/
Shults is a hero, but she should also be applauded for her exposing the idiocy of the exclusion rules. She laid groundwork for the next generation of female combat soldiers and pilots. She can rightfully be called a trailblazer and a hero well before that fateful flight. 15/15
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