Lilyea, a former sergeant who fought in Desert Storm, wrote that he is opposed to women in combat units, not because women are a distraction but because he thinks the Army and other services will be required to accept more women than are qualified or can be trained.
"If we're doing this to make the military better, fine, but if we're doing it just to beat our collective chest and show how just we are, then that's how a lot of body bags are going to get filled," he wrote.
Kayla Williams, author of the memoir "Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army," said she thought most of the enlisted men would accept women into combat units.
"They will do their jobs, they will be professional, perhaps a few will be disgruntled," she said. "Troops grumble, that's what we do, but many of them have already served along with women."
Williams, who saw combat while with the 101st Airborne, said she thought some branches of the military would ask for exceptions to the policy, and that was hard to argue with.
"Let's take this step and let women keep proving what they have already proved before," she said.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephanie Cazares with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Texas, said it was impossible to know what, if any, changes it would mean for women in the military.
"It's not just put females in combat (specialties) and let's call it a day," she said.
A number of issues, including safety regulations and cohabitation, will need to be addressed, she said.
Army Staff Sgt. Stacey Zinda said that, like Cazares, she wasn't surprised by the news.
Troops have speculated about the issue for a while, but Zinda, who is a career counselor, said she has yet to have a female soldier approach her about joining a combat unit.
Gabbard was asked about a newspaper column that argued there would be times someone would be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, and that would be distracting, awkward, uncomfortable and potentially traumatizing. Does the writer have a point?
"I respectfully disagree. I think that in these situations we're talking about highly trained professionals, people who build our strong military because they place the mission first and they're there to fight as a member of a team. All of the other things that differentiate us, make us unique, whether it be gender or race or religion, all of these things fall aside when you're there putting the mission first and selflessly serving as that member of a team," Gabbard said.
"I can tell you from my own firsthand experience as well as the many, many people I've had the honor of serving with, whether in training or in a deployed setting, those things are not what's crossing your mind when you're operating."
Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee for defense secretary, didn't comment on the issue. He was asked for his reaction after he left a meeting at the Senate on Wednesday.
"We've got a hearing I'm looking forward to next week," he said, suggesting he may confront the matter then.
What do you think about women in combat? Share your thoughts on iReport. We especially would like to hear from women.