In December, the Department of Defense opened all military combat positions to women. This decision has forced Americans to reconsider the role of female veterans and reevaluate their past contributions.

Women have participated in armed conflicts since 1901 when the U.S. Army established its Army Nurse Corps. In the years following, women rose up the ranks. By the end of the Gulf War, female pilots had clearance to fly combat missions. Now, women servicemembers work on the ground in the Middle East. And, just last year, two female soldiers successfully completed Army Ranger school and earned the coveted Ranger tab.

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are over 2 million female veterans in the U.S. The DoD’s decision to open combat positions to women has given Americans a chance to honor these veterans and the ones who came before them.