WASHINGTON, DC – The Pentagon has confirmed its study into the possibility of allowing the handicapped, teenagers, the elderly, foreign nationals, and others the same rights to military service as everyone else in the world.
"This is where we have been heading as a department for more than ten years," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters. "This will take some time, but it will happen. Not everyone is going to be a soldier, but everyone, no matter what their circumstances, is entitled to a chance."
Panetta stressed that opening up opportunities in the military would not compromise military readiness or war-fighting capabilities, and believes it would actually make the force stronger.
Many other groups with little military experience or vested interest agree.
Handicapped Americans National today filed suit against the Pentagon to let wheelchair-bound recruits serve in infantry units, and a group named Blind But Not Broken has pressed for Braille heads-up-displays (HUD) to be installed in all F-22 fighter jets.
The Pentagon has already loosened age and nationality restrictions on potential service-members, granting an exception which military recruiters have repeatedly pushed for.
"These so-called qualifications really degrade the force and limit equal opportunity across the military," said Sergeant Ernest Davis, a Marine recruiter in San Diego who recently received a prestigious award called a non-punitive letter of caution for consistently missing quota.
"It's all really a matter of fairness," said Panetta to reporters, in agreement with the two groups. "There will certainly be some accommodations that need to be made, but I'm confident we can make this work."
"Let's face it, we now have women on submarines and in fighter planes. Soon they'll be infantry. But if we want real equality across our military, we need to stop injustices affecting the least fortunate among us and give everyone a shot."
Along with hundreds of thousands of women already signing up for infantry training, wheelchair-bound recruits have been rolling into local recruiting stations, although no decision on their fate has been finalized.
"Let me be clear: the standards are not going to change. That's not what we're proposing here. But if this goes through, then of course we will notify the Taliban, and have them install wheelchair-accessible pressure plate IEDs, in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act," Panetta added.