By Melissa K. Buckley, Leonard WoodFebruary 8, 2012
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Feb. 8, 2012) -- Military recruits who wear glasses won't be issued S9s or "birth control glasses" anymore -- the nickname given to the iconic BCGs because many service members believe that while wearing the frames, it is impossible to appear attractive.
Beginning this month, Fort Leonard Wood's basic trainees will be fitted with a new frame, the 5A.
"Currently, the trainees at Fort Leonard Wood are given S9s for Boot Camp and Advanced Individual Training," said Sgt. Brant Fechter, 43rd Adjutant General (Reception) Battalion Optometry Clinic noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "The projection is that the 5As will start to be issued this February to promote usage and comfort."
Fechter expects the new frames to be a welcome change for troops.
"The style of the new basic issue will resemble a slimmer and lighter glasses that many of the trainees arrive to Fort Leonard Wood already wearing, which is an indicator that the new issue will be a hit," Fechter said.
One of the last basic trainees to receive the S9s, Pvt. Michael Beebe, was issued his glasses during a visit to the 43rd Reception Battalion Optometry Clinic on Jan. 31.
"They are really big and fall down my face," Beebe said.
Beebe wished he was processed just a few days later, as he could've been issued the new 5As.
While inspecting the contemporary frames, he said, "They look a lot smaller, lighter and more comfortable. I would rather have those."
Also in the clinic that day, Pvt. Michael Lopez, wearing his S9s, agreed.
"I have my pair already, because I have been through basic training. They are really sturdy," Lopez said. "But I like the new ones better. They look better."
Despite the S9s' thick frame being part of pop-culture's current fashion trend -- complete with Facebook page, "Birth Control Glasses (BCGs) are making a comeback!," Lopez said he only wears them because he has to.
"I'm required to wear them. I personally wouldn't wear them out and about," Lopez said.
Soldiers and retirees will still have the ability to order the brown S9 glasses after the 5A change-over is implemented.
"The durability of the S9s might be better than the new 5As because the frames are thicker; however, Soldiers will wear the new issue more often, which will improve training and performance," Fechter said.
Beebe said if he was fortunate enough to don the new 5As, he would be more careful with the thinner frames.
"They might break a lot easier, but I would take better care of them," he said.