CHICAGO (CBS) – Gov. Quinn, Mayor Emanuel and Sen. Dick Durbin were all on hand Friday for the annual Veterans Day ceremonies at Soldier Field, where changes in the military were very much on the minds of many former service members.

“We are recognizing there are men and women with different sexual orientation who have always served in our armed forces and will continue to serve and do our nation proud,” Durbin said.

It was the first Veterans Day with no barriers against gays in the military.

“I feel like it makes all the stuff we’re fighting for worth it,” Afghanistan veteran Melissa Kreguer said.

Changes are also coming in Iraq, where American troops are pulling out. Chicago Army veteran Danielle Green-Byrd lost her left arm in a rocket attack there.

“I’m very happy they’re coming home. I just hope they’re coming home to something,” she told CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley.

A graduate of Notre Dame, Byrd-Green always wanted to serve. She enlisted at age 25 with the Iraq War looming. Now, she works for the Veterans Administration helping combat veterans readjust.

“You know, war is not pretty. Sometimes it’s difficult coming back from a combat zone to the civilian world. That’s why what I do is rewarding,” she said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports

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