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Gender Equity In The Marine Corps

 March 29, 2021 at 4:53 AM PDT

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Monday 29th. How equality between men and women in the marines remains elusive More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines…. The first 500 unaccompanied migrant children arrived at the San Diego Convention center this weekend. Here’s San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “We know that San Diego is a welcoming community, and we don’t mean that just by words but by our actions and our deeds. These are children. This is the right thing to do. And San Diegans will always do the right thing.” Local leaders say the convention will only shelter teenage girls. South Bay Community Services will be on site to help the girls find their families in the US, or connect them with sponsors. Opening day for the Padres is this Thursday, and ticket prices are skyrocketing. Mariel Conception is with the San Diego Business Journal... She says on Stub Hub ticket prices were between 14-hundred to 2-thousand. "But the reason these tickets are exceptionally pricey is because of the 20 percent capacity regulation. PetCo park can typically hold over 42 thousand fans. But because of the Red Tier it can only welcome 8,489 guests." The Padres opening day opponent is the Arizona Diamondbacks. San Diego Comic Con has announced dates for their three-day in-person convention this year. They’re calling it “Comic-Con Special edition,” and for now it's scheduled for the Thanksgiving-Black-Friday weekend of November 26th through the 28th. There’s still a free virtual version comic-con called “Comic-Con @ Home” scheduled for July 23rd through the 25th. From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now. Stay with me for more of the local news you need. For the first time, the Marine Corps has fully opened both its boot camps to women. The first female recruits arrived in San Diego last month - at a camp that since 1923 had trained only men. Women will also continue to train at the Marine Corps' other facility at Parris Island in South Carolina. Bu KPBS military reporter Steve Walsh tells us integrating boot camp is just one of the hurdles in bringing gender equity to the Corps The first class of female recruits are a third of the way through training in San Diego. Part of a Congressionally mandated march to become the last service to integrate boot camp. “sound of boot camp” They’ve gone through pool exercises and scaled obstacles in the confidence course. One obstacle for their leaders -- keeping these women once they prove themselves and then finding more like them - women who want to become US Marines. “It’s a profound transformation.” Lea Booth was a Marine from 2004 to 2009. “I've got to say I had a blast at boot camp. It’s super hard, obviously. It’s physical. It’s challenging. You don’t get a ton of sleep. You’re always on the move. Everybody loses weight.” Women make up close to 20 percent of the Navy. The number of women in the Marines is just under half of that. Despite foot-dragging on integrating boot camp, the last two commandants of the Marine Corps have publicly vowed to increase the number of women in the Corps. Booth says one reason there aren’t more women is many of the most recognizable jobs - or MOS’s - in the Marines had been closed to women. “You can do every job that a guy does with a few exceptions in the Air Force . But the main MOS in the Marine Corps women couldn’t do until recently. So I'm sure that's part of it." The Corps was also the only service to fight the Secretary of Defenses’ decision to open all combat roles to women in 2015. Compared with the Army, a relative handful of women have combat roles in the Marines. “(sound”I try to stay as much out of the office as much as I can..” Sgt. Leah Engdahl is one of the few female Marine recruiters. Most Marines come right out of high school. Their image of the Corps comes straight out of video games. “Call of Duty,” and things like that, and seeing what’s on TV.” Most Marines won’t spend their career in the once-restricted combat roles. The image actually makes it harder to recruit a broader pool of women. Recruiters often spend months getting both men and women into shape before they ship out. One of Engdahl’s recruits is among the first class of women training in San Diego.. “She kind of had it set in her mind that she wanted to be a U.S. Marine. She was a little bit concerned about the physical aspect of things. The way that I prepared her was we would meet here at the office twice to three times a week and we would physically train and get ready.” Marines and veterans say the bond that starts at boot camp lasts a lifetime, even through hardship and sometimes even through betrayal. Julie Webber started serving in 1996. “At my first duty station, I was raped, and I was not supported by anybody in my unit. At least nobody whose opinion mattered.” The specter of sexual assault looms over the Marines, which typically lead the services in the number of assault and harassment allegations. Webber has a tattoo on her forearm of the Globe and Anchor, the symbol of the Marines. She got it AFTER she left the Corps in 2012, following a second enlistment. As she struggled through law school, She wanted a daily reminder of what she could accomplish. “I try to support people who need it. And I don’t think I was always this way, but the Marine Corps kind of made me that way. And I am strong because of them.” The Marines warrior tradition is built at boot camp. Advocates say integrating the sexes is an opportunity for the Corps to finally recognize that the strength and determination instilled at the beginning doesn’t just apply to the men. In San Diego, I’m Steve Walsh. And that was KPBS Military Reporter Steve Walsh. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting In a tragic accident in January, a young hiker was swept away in the San Diego river when he was fleeing a storm at Mission Trails Regional Park. KPBS reporter John Carroll tells us about how the man’s parents are working to make sure what happened to their son never happens again. If Balboa Park is the jewel of San Diego, the vast Mission Trails Regional Park is the city’s “diamond in the rough.” One thing that makes the park so beautiful… is the fact a river runs through it… the San Diego River. So beautiful, and yet here, for hikers, bikers and anyone else traversing Jackson Crossing, there is danger. On January 29th… an attempt to cross the river turned deadly for 21-year old Brown University student Max Lenail. CG: Ben Lenail/Max Lenail’s father “It was his third run at Mission Trails as he was training for an ultra-marathon with his brother.” Max was no amateur. He knew what he was doing. But an unusually strong rain and hail storm had whipped up quickly leaving Max with a choice… he could either cross the river and get to shelter in his car… 5 minutes away… or he could go back the way he came. But that would be six miles… in a hailstorm. So, he decided to cross. All these weeks later, Ben Lenail and Laurie Yoler just today received the medical examiner’s report… and with it confirmation of what happened to their beloved Max. He drowned. “He tried to cross at the crossing and basically was kept under the surface by the current in some sort of eddy or whirlpool.” Now Ben Lenail and Laurie Yoler are turning their unspeakable grief into action. With the help of the San Diego Foundation, they’re raising money to build a beautiful bridge over the crossing. CG: Laurie Yoler/Max’s mother “We’re so adamant that something has to be done to make it safer or someone else is going to face a similar tragedy.” The fact that a bridge is needed here is not news to groups associated with the park. Yoler says the Mission Trails Regional Park Foundation has been pressing for one for at least 10 years. “But, they had said there was not enough funding to go forth with the project and that’s why we want to help rectify that situation.” Two million dollars is what they figure it will cost. The goal is to have the bridge complete by three years from today… you see this is Max’s birthday. He would’ve been 22. “We’re righting a wrong here. We’re making sure that no other family will have the same experience.” JC, KPBS News. And that reporting from KPBS’ John Carroll. Defendants throughout California can no longer be held in jail simply because they can’t afford to post bail. That’s after a landmark state supreme court ruling last Thursday. Criminal justice reformers are hailing the ruling, arguing cash bail is inherently unfair. But as KQED’s Alex Emslie reports, the ruling doesn’t abolish its use. Coming up.... While unaccompanied migrant children arrive at the San Diego convention center...misinformation at the southern border has been spiking. We’ll have that story, and a look at how drinking alcohol spiked throughout 2020 next, just after the break. Hundreds of people are still camped out at the port of entry in Tijuana, hoping to request asylum. And Asylum-seeking migrant children have arrived at the San Diego convention center. The border, once again, is in the headlines...and where there’s headlines, there’s misinformation. In recent weeks, MAGA supporters in Tijuana have been stirring up their allies in the U.S. with conspiracy theories and misinformation about the southern border, and they are antagonizing those waiting to seek asylum. Jean Guerrero is covering misinformation at the border for the Daily Beast. She spoke with KPBS Host Maya Trabulsi. Here’s that interview. That was Jean Guerrero, investigative reporter for the Daily Beast, speaking with KPBS Host Maya Trabulsi. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing people to stay home, alcohol consumption increased nationwide. A new study found alcohol consumption rose by 14-percent last year, with a staggering 41-percent increase among women. Dr. Rohit Loomba specializes in Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases at UC San Diego Health. He spoke with KPBS Midday Edition host Maureen Cavanaugh about the recent rise in alcoholism among younger people in San Diego, and how it could expose them to dangerous health issues in the future. That was Dr. Rohit Loomba, a specialist in Gastroenterology and Liver Diseases at UC San Diego Health. She was speaking with KPBS Midday Edition Host Maureen Cavanaugh. That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

The Marines have the fewest number of women of any of the armed services. Though the Corps has now integrated its two boot camps, that's just one of several hurdles the Corps faces to fully welcoming women to its ranks. Also, the parents of a hiker who drowned in Mission Trails Regional Park in January are working to get a bridge built in his memory. And, research shows alcohol consumption rose by 14% nation-wide in 2020.