Four female service members filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday seeking to overturn the Pentagon’s exclusion of women from many combat roles, arguing that the restrictions are unconstitutional and have hindered their careers.

The plaintiffs have all served in Iraq or Afghanistan and each performed dangerous combat-related missions. Two were awarded Purple Hearts — a combat decoration — after they were wounded on the battlefield. …

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco against Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, is the latest legal attempt to force the Pentagon to lift its long-standing ban on women serving in most ground combat units. In May, two female Army reservists filed a similar suit in U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia.

In both cases, the women are accusing the Pentagon of moving too slowly to recognize the reality of modern war zones, where the military has become dependent on female troops to fight the enemy even though on paper they are barred from doing so in many cases. In addition to Hunt, the plaintiffs are Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, Marine 1st Lt. Colleen Farrell and Air Force Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar.