Westmoreland 19-year-old becomes first female to enter the U.S. Army infantry from the Rome Army Recruiting Station

By Gary Liberatore

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ROME, N.Y. - Nineteen-year-old Braelyn Riesel of Westmoreland says she always wanted to fight for her country and now her military career is about to begin.

Riesel will ship out this week to Fort Benning in Georgia to begin a total of 22 weeks of training, 10 weeks of basic training and then 12 weeks of infantry training, that's right, infantry training.

SFC. Paul Gardner, Commander of the Rome Army Recruiting Station, says Riesel is the first female to directly enter the infantry after visiting the Rome Army Recruiting Center, "I was pretty excited when she said something about combat arms, so that was interesting to me because most women don’t want to do combat arms, most people in general don’t want to do combat arms."

Riesel says her brother is in the infantry in the Army and she says he was a big influence on her decision because he is very happy with his decision, "I’ve always wanted to do infantry, but a lot of people are like, oh you can’t do that."

She sure can.

In December of 2015, Defense Secretary Ash Carter stated that starting in January of 2016 all combat jobs would be open to women, and in October of 2016 the first 10 women graduated from the United States Army's Infantry Basic Officer Leader's Course at Fort Benning, which is where Braelyn Riesing is headed in the next few days.

Once Riesel competes her 22 weeks of training at Fort Benning she will join the ranks of only about 600 women in the entire country to have made it through that training to be certified to fight on the front lines.

Riesel says she hopes other young women from our area follow in her footsteps, "I want other women to do this because we can. You’re stronger than you think, you can do it."

The first females were deployed to the front lines in March. They are members of Fort Drum's 10th Mountain Division that were sent to Afghanistan.

Riesel says she is ready to get her military career started at the young age of 19 and will go wherever the Army needs her to go.

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