“I can’t tell you how many times I have walked into a meeting and I’m the only woman in the room,” Haring said. And the discussions in those meetings usually change a little when her point of view is offered.
But what about size? “They always say: ‘But can you carry a 200-pound injured man?’ ” Haring said.
“What about Audie Murphy, then?” she asks. The man known as America’s most decorated solider in World War II, who graced the cover of Life magazine and later starred in war movies, “was just a slight, 140-pound man.”
Her husband, retired Army Col. Brandon Denecke, seconds that. “He always tells me, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the fight in the dog that matters,” she said.
When she embarked on this lawsuit, which she filed jointly with Command Sgt. Maj. Jane Baldwin, she was a little worried about what her husband would think.
“He was so supportive,” she said. And when she filed it, she also got notes of support from other men she has served with.
They see what’s happening, and they know the danger they are putting women in without proper training.
On Sunday, Haring had 16 people over for a barbecue. She handled the preparations and a reporter’s questions with military precision.
On Monday, she said, she wasn’t sure whether she’d visit Arlington National Cemetery, a place she goes more than she’d like.
“I find it very, very emotional. Section 60,” she said, referring to the cemetery section where the newly dead are buried. When she goes to Arlington or to watch Rolling Thunder or to hear Memorial Day speeches, she always cries.
“I look around, and the men are crying, too,” she reminds me.
And if her lawsuit is successful, “of course, we’ll be killed in greater numbers,” and there will be more tears.
But it is the painful and real price of true equality.
Follow me on Twitter at @petulad or e-mail me at email@example.com. To read my previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/dvorak.