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Female Servicewomen Sue Pentagon over Combat Policy

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Pentagon on behalf of four women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but feel stifled "by a policy that does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts."

Specifically, the servicewomen argue that the Defense Department's combat exclusion policy prevents them from achieving the same leadership roles as men.

In one instance, according to the ACLU, Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, an Air National Guard search-and-rescue helicopter pilot, was shot down while rescuing three injured soldiers in Afghanistan and was forced to exchange fire with the enemy.

Although Hegar was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, she maintains she was kept from seeking other responsibilities due to the Pentagon's policy against women in ground combat.

Meanwhile, two of the plaintiffs led Marine Corps "female engagement teams" in Afghanistan and the fourth plaintiff, while in the Army, was sent on similar missions, accompanying combat troops in Afghanistan.

However, the ACLU says because the missions were temporary duties, they were not officially recognized by their services.

According to the ACLU, women make up 14 percent of the armed forces, with 1.4 million now actively serving.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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