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Staff Sgt. Pamela Thomas
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Servicewomen around the United States are proving that the business of defending our country is no longer just a boys only club.

"All military positions are open to women now," said Sgt. Maj. Angela Maness of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island during a luncheon Aug. 26 on Fort Jackson for Women's Equality Day.

"That includes infantry, armor and special operations. It wasn't like that when I first started, but I'm so happy it is now," she said.

Maness, who has served in the Marines for 30 years, talked about the importance of women advancements in the military during the lunch at Fort Jackson.

"The country succeeds when women succeed. Investing in women's equality and empowerment helps unlock potential for the nation," she said.

Currently, women make up 15.1 percent of the U.S. military, according to a 2014 report from the office of the deputy assistant secretary of defense. In December, defense secretary Ash Carter announced that beginning January 2016 all military occupations and positions will be open to women without exception.

"(Women) are moving fast and forward in every branch of service," said Maness.

Staff Sgt. Pamela Thomas of Echo Company, 2nd Battalion , 60th Infantry Regiment said that she feels as though she has to work harder than her male counterparts when it comes to her job.

As a drill sergeant, she is one of the first impressions that new army recruits get of women in service. She tries to be a little more tough on female recruits than male because she's aware of some of the challenges they may face.

"I want them to know that no one's just going to hand anything to you because you are a woman," she said. "I try to be that positive role model that they can look up to and try to become."

Women have been serving with the armed forces in America since 1775, but not as service members. explains that women worked as laundresses, cooks and nurses before officially being able to join the military during the last two years of WWI as nurses.

Women's Equality Day celebrates white women gaining the right to vote with the 19th amendment in

1920. During the luncheon, Maness mentioned some military women making history in the field such as Adm. Michelle Howard (the first female admiral,) Gen. Lori Robinson (the first female combatant commander) and 2nd Lts. Virginia Brodie and Katherine Boy (the first female marine artillery officers.)

"I am so impressed (by these women)," Maness said. "If I had a moment to just meet these women,

I would shake their hands and get some of the DNA on me."