On April 16th the Army released a Memorandum “Maternity Tshirt approval memo with enclosures” (PDF file) authorizing the wear of commercially purchased breastfeeding/pumping shirts during the postpartum period under the Class C Utility Uniform. This is another step forward for the military, and the Army specifically, as they continue to support breastfeeding mothers. Read on to find out how the authorization was obtained and how you too can make this happen in your branch of the military.
MAJ Bell (USAR) is the driving force behind this memo. She has 19 years in the service as an ER Nurse and has successfully breastfed both her girls, now 5.5 years old and 28 months old (and still breastfeeding!), while serving in the military. Her husband is currently on Active Duty in the Army. This is her account of how the “nursing t-shirt” came to be an authorized item for wear in the US Army.
It all started with a post on the BFinCB Facebook Page back in October 2017 from an Airman wondering if the Miss Military Mom undershirts were authorized for wear with ABUs. One of the admins posted that although they are not officially authorized, the undershirts do comply with the Air Force uniform policy. I was curious to know what the Army’s regulation stated so I looked it up in AR 670-1 and DA PAM 670-1. The verbiage in the regulations is a bit vague and noted only material and color and stated that commercially obtained t-shirts were authorized. To me this meant the undershirts also complied with Army regulation but again, were not specifically authorized. And I thought to myself…what if we could get them officially authorized?!?
So I did some more research in the regulations about how to request updates to the regulation. I followed the guidance provided and filled out the appropriate form (DA FORM 2028) and attempted to email the general uniform inbox listed in AR 670-1 and on the Army G1 Uniform webpage. The email was invalid so I began to search S1NET for the most recent uniform memos in hopes of finding a current point of contact. That POC was SGG Anthony Moore (Uniform Policy Branch SGM, HQDA, Pentagon). I emailed him directly asking for the updated email address for uniform policy change requests and he said I could sent the request directly to him…so I did! I sent a DD FORM 2028 along with a photo of the Miss Military Mom undershirt (this is only breastfeeding undershirt that is currently being manufactured). That was 24 October 2017. Many emails and a couple phone calls later the approval packet was ready to go before the Sergeant Major of the Army and the Vice Chief of Staff for review and approval. After that, the packet went before the Chief of Staff of the Army for his approval. After the Chief of Staff approved it, the authorization memo was sent to the Deputy Chief of Staff, G1 for his approval and signature. The memo was signed on 12 April 2018 by LTG Seamands and sent out on 16 April 2018. Right now the wear of the t-shirt is an exception policy but I hope to continue to work with SMG Moore and BFinCB in order to ensure proper and appropriate wording for the actual policy update.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Memo –
- Why does this memo say “nursing” instead of breastfeeding or pumping? The original wording DID say breastfeeding and pumping but was changed before it was released to the public. This is one of the fixes that will be incorporated (hopefully) in the final policy.
- What is the defined length of time for the “postpartum period”? This memo was specifically written WITHOUT a defined length of time in order to follow the Army’s AD-201543 Breastfeeding and Lactation Support Policy which states that women are authorized a time and place to pump for AT LEAST the first year of life.
- Why isn’t the green shirt authorized for wear with the OCPs? Because Miss Military Mom has not made one yet! It is in the process of being made to the proper mil spec standards.
BFinCB thanks MAJ Bell for her initiative and hard work in getting these shirts authorized, and looks forward to working with her to implement this authorization into future policy updates. Please send us any concerns, changes or updates you would like to see included in the policy and we will forward them to MAJ Bell. We will also continue to work with Kenisha Heath of Miss Military Mom as she updates her shirts to include a green shirt for the Army and Marine Corps (and Navy). You can read more about her and why she created her shirts here and a review of her shirts here. We are also happy to support any personnel from the Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy to make these shirts authorized for wear under your uniforms as well. Please contact us at BFinCB at gmail.com.
What are your thoughts on this memo? Are you pleased to see this change being made or think it is not needed? What updates would you like to see in the policy update? Do you want to see this implemented in the other services? Leave a comment!