LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Fort Benning, Ga. — One of the first women to graduate from the Army’s notoriously grueling Ranger School says she hopes her success will go toward proving that women in the military are capable of doing what men do.

Capt. Kristen Griest of Orange, Connecticut, said her successful completion of the elite, two-month program show that women “can deal with the same stresses and training that men can.”

Griest and First Lt. Shaye Haver of Copperas Cove, Texas, will graduate at Fort Benning, Georgia, along with 94 men on Friday. Out of 19 women who began the program, Haver and Griest are the only two to finish so far.

Completing the course lets the two women wear the coveted Ranger black-and-gold tab. But for now they’re still unable to join the elite 75th Ranger Regiment based at Fort Benning. The military’s toughest jobs — including positions in infantry, armor and special operations units such as the Ranger Regiment — remain closed to women.

Haver and Griest — both graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point — not only finished the course they started in April. They both had to start from scratch, having failed two previous attempts.

“These two soldiers have absolutely earned the respect of every Ranger instructor,” Cmd. Sgt. Major Curtis Arnold told reporters. “They do not quit and they do not complain.”

Griest, 26, and Haver, 25, are “happy, relieved, and ready for some good food and sleep” before they line up Friday at Fort Benning alongside 94 male soldiers who also earned the coveted black-and-gold Ranger tab to adorn their uniforms.

Griest grew up loving to camp in the wilderness and test her endurance, making her a natural to take on Ranger School, said her older brother, Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mike Griest. He noted she chose to become a military police officer because she felt it was the closest she could get to an Army combat job.

Haver followed in her father’s footsteps to become a pilot of attack helicopters. He also served as a career Army aviator who flew Apaches, and said his daughter has always been mentally tough and incredibly physically fit.

“She’s kind of built for this thing,” Chris Haver said.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Read or Share this story: http://detne.ws/1LnTb5h