JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – The Army Mom Life Facebook group is a place where 3,600 active-duty Army moms come together as a community, to connect and seek guidance from other Army mothers in uniform. The topics range from pregnancy, parenting, promotions and uniform policy to mentorship in their work environments.
Since its founding a year ago, these Army moms have made it their mission to affect positive change, not only within their own organizations, but for mothers across the Army. Their efforts have been noted by current Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston, who requested original proposals in regard to upgrading Army pregnancy and postpartum policies.
Beginning with a single informational tweet, SMA Grinston was made aware of these Army moms, whose demographic range in rank from Lt. Col to Sgt., and he was receptive.
They polled their group to ask what top five topics regarding pregnancy policy updates are needed. Collectively, the group came up with original proposals for consideration by the SMA, including allowing pregnant Soldiers to attend Professional Military Education (PME), clarification on ALARACT 016-2020 (which would effectively allow Army moms a deployment and training deferment for 12 months postpartum), education of pregnant and postpartum policies in PME to include officer and enlisted, height and weight postpartum deferment for 12-months instead of six-months, and overall increased standardization of medical care, including a six-week pregnancy referral to physical therapy, chiropractor, behavioral health and lactation specialists.
These proposals were tweeted to SMA Grinston, shared widely, and sent to the Senior Undersecretary of the Army, the US Army Training and Doctrine Command DCG, CG and CSM, who all continued to circulate it.
One more recent change the group had an opportunity to effect was on the temporary promotion memo regarding Soldiers who were otherwise qualified but lacked PME. The memo originally stated that only Soldiers on a 180-day profile would qualify for this, but it now allows for the normal 45-day written profile and is good for 12 months postpartum.
These recent changes can be attributed to the efforts of Army Sgt. Nicole Pierce, a behavioral health noncommissioned officer with the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, founder of the Army Mom Life Facebook group, and the one who originally reached out to the SMA via Twitter.
“You can be any rank and make changes in the Army,” said Pierce.
“The day I got my Advanced Leadership Course slot was the day I also got a confirmed pregnancy test, so I lost out on my school slot. I wanted to make positive and fair change, to better the enlistment rate for Mothers in the Army,” Pierce added. “I see so many women who struggle to make the 180-day postpartum weight standard, developing unhealthy habits or giving up breastfeeding. With the SMA and the Undersecretary looking into these issues, I have a feeling there will be policy changes very soon.”
The 17th Field Artillery Brigade command team has expressed support for Sgt. Pierce, the Army Mom Life group and the present and coming changes. “What Sergeant Pierce is doing is long overdue and necessary,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Carlan, “The forum is a great way for Army mothers of all ranks to mentor, advocate and effect positive changes across their formations, which will help maintain their overall health and readiness, and hopefully their retention.”
The group has the Army’s current height and weight policy set in the crosshairs of its next battle. They proposed two changes to the Senior Undersecretary of the Army that would affect AR 600-9. The first would suspend the practice of taping women’s hips, as the Army is the only branch of the armed forces that does so. Secondly, they proposed using the bod pod, a body composition tracking system that measures a person’s weight and volume to calculate more accurately their body fat percentage. The undersecretary has agreed to look into these issues, so stay tuned.