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Hunter Alumna Writes Memoir on American Women in Combat

In alliance with the laws upheld by the United States Congress, women are officially banned from serving in combat units that engage the enemy with deliberate, offensive action. But yet this is exactly what Jane Blair, Hunter College class of 1998, found herself doing when she and fellow female troop members were stationed at the front lines during the days of the Iraq wartime buildup in 2003. This breach in policy was largely unacknowledged by her surrounding officers, who preferred to keep quiet about the controversial decree that bars women from live combat. Blair, however, refused to remain silent. Her recently released memoir, Hesitation Kills: A Female Marine Officer's Combat Experience in Iraq (Rowman & Littlefield) sheds some serious light on the subject of women on the front lines, as it is one of only a handful of books written by a woman who has experienced combat first hand.

Blair, who studied philosophy and religion during her time at Hunter, never imagined that this would be the turn her life would take. She joined the Marines in 1999, and after several years in the enlisted ranks, received her commission as an officer. She was deployed to Iraq in 2003, and it was then that she was positioned in combat support, keeping a journal of her experiences which undoubtedly helped to shape her ground-breaking memoir. Blair left the Marine Corps in 2007 with the rank of Captain and is now a Major in the Reserves. She serves as a Middle Eastern affairs officer and Marine attaché and is taking courses in Arabic. She also lobbies for change; recently, she had an editorial in the Washington Post debunking stereotypes that endeavor to explain why women can't succeed in combat.

How does Blair describe her education at Hunter? One word - "awesome." With the help of its well-rounded liberal arts curriculum, Hunter is where she says she "learned to be a whole person" and "an effective thinker and leader." Her classes in philosophy and religion were especially important for her career in the military, for, she says, they provided "a good moral code that I applied on the battlefield when confronted with difficult situations."

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