Defense bill establishes new maternity uniform loan program for pregnant troops

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Future moms in the military could receive maternity uniforms free of charge if next year’s defense policy bill becomes law.

In the final version of the National Defense Authorization Tax Law 2021 released last week, lawmakers are pushing the Defense Ministry to conduct a pilot program to issue maternity uniforms and related items to pregnant military personnel on a temporary basis and as needed.

Read more : For the first time, a woman will take control of an aircraft carrier

Under the wording of the proposed legislation, the Defense Logistics Agency – which distributes uniforms and equipment to the armed forces – will coordinate with each duty secretary to analyze what items pregnant women need, as well as how many which should be distributed to everyone.

Secretaries can set up an office where women can hand over items that no longer need to be cleaned or repaired before the uniforms are handed over to other pregnant women, the bill says.

The bill also orders that maternity uniforms not be treated with insecticidal chemicals such as permethrin. Although permethrin is considered relatively safe for pregnant women, its use during pregnancy is only recommended when the benefits outweigh the risks.

One of the goals of the pilot program, lawmakers said, is to study whether having the right uniforms readily available allows women to do their jobs more effectively during pregnancy.

The NDAA would require each department to publish a report on its findings by September 30, 2025. Lawmakers want recommendations from leaders, descriptions of the successes and failures of the program, and a decision on whether to extend it beyond its term. expected end date. from 2026.

The analysis would show, among other things, whether the program increased costs or saved taxpayers’ money, and how it differs from the cost of “providing allowances to members for the purchase of such items” by themselves, according to the bill.

The military service has made a number of recent policy changes aimed at better retaining female members of the service and enabling them to work effectively.

The Air Force launched a project in 2019 focused on collecting female perspectives to provide better uniforms, including maternity uniforms, flight suits and body armor.

General David Goldfein, then Chief of Staff of the Air Force, launched the initiative to redesign women’s uniforms after many years of ill-fitting equipment. The effort was also supported by the Air Force Department’s Barrier Analysis Working Group within the Women’s Initiative Team, which helped spur change to outdated or restrictive policies. .

The army as a whole is responding to the increase in the number of women in the ranks by improving dress and appearance.

According to a report released in October by USA Today, women make up about 21% of the Air Force; 20.2% of the Navy; 15.4% of the army; and 9% from the Marine Corps.

The House passed the NDAA this week; the Senate is expected to vote on Thursday.

President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the Section 230 Bill, which protects tech and communications companies from liability for user activity. The bill also seeks to remove the names of Confederate leaders from 10 U.S. military bases, a change Trump has repeatedly opposed and threatened to block.

– Oriana Pawlyk can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ Oriana0214.

Related: Military leaders face a new form of discrimination: pregnancy stigma

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