the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center leading postpartum health advice reviews for the upcoming Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airmen Specific Fitness Testing Policy.
“We consider the needs of the mother while maintaining the highest standards for the physical demands of the career field,” said Master Sgt. John Johnson, AFIMSC Installation Support Program Resource Analyst. “We went straight to the source and invited six EOD mother aviators to participate in a postpartum task force to develop action plans and recommendations.”
Johnson and his team were tasked with drafting the guidelines for the operationally relevant Level 2 PFT, which, unlike the Level 1 test, is more physically demanding and independent of age and gender.
“This test will be more difficult than the standard Air Force test, so we wanted to make sure the policy gives our EOD Airmen the time they need to heal after childbirth,” Johnson said. “We don’t want them to rush around and hurt themselves. We’re looking at the longevity of their careers and we’re here to see what we can do to help them.
Women’s health professionals were also present at the working group.
“Women make up 20% of the Air Force, so it’s important to make sure we have policies in place that support them in their careers, as well as in their ability to plan their families,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Larissa Weir, Chief Women’s Health Consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General. “Postpartum care for all women in general is changing. We used to think of the postpartum period as the first six weeks after the baby is born and then you go to the doctor to get the blessing that you were ready to go. This is not the case. During the first 12 months, there are continuous changes: hormonal, physiological and anatomical,… post-partum care must therefore be more complete.
“Women in EOD have a special mission and more stringent requirements, so for the career field to be mission-ready, we need to have these discussions and make sure that our policies also evolve and are inclusive,” Weir said.
There are currently 37 women in the career field of approximately 1,200 active DOEs.
“We’re an even smaller group of mothers in NMS, so it’s easy to forget about us,” said Master Sgt. Andrea Rasmussen, EOD equipment section chief, 96th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eglin Air Base, Florida. “I myself am six months after giving birth and it has been a challenge. I have medical problems related to my postpartum period and have even been to the emergency room several times. All of this while trying to take care of myself, take care of my house, take care of my daughter, take care of my job, and prepare for a fitness test.
“I want to stay fully qualified and continue to be an asset to my team,” said Rasmussen, “so I’m happy that we are here to hear and come up with action plans now that this new level 2 policy is in place. in development. written. “
The task force members also decided to continue to collaborate and develop additional tools and guidance for postpartum EOD Airmen.
“This meeting made me and my male counterparts in attendance realize just how little we know about postpartum care in the EOD community,” Johnson said. “Outside of politics, one of our actions will be to create a postpartum playbook and share it on our EOD SharePoint site. It will be a compilation of all the information medical professionals have shared with us today and other highlights from our discussion.
The next steps for Johnson and her team will be to draft the action plans decided by the group, which include a proposal to extend the current level 1 postpartum delay, and add recommendations for related care. The draft Level 2 Testing Policy will then be sent to Air Force Headquarters for approval.
“I’m glad we have leaders who are ready to listen and solve issues they may not be familiar with,” Rasmussen said. “This type of support is critical not only for postpartum women, but also for women in general in the air and space forces.”