AFIMSC Prioritizes Diversity and Inclusion for EOD Physical Fitness Test > Air Force > Article Display
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) —
the Air Force Mission Support and Installation Center is leading postpartum health guidance reviews for the upcoming Explosive Ordnance Disposal Airman-specific fitness testing policy.
“We consider the needs of the mother while maintaining the highest standard 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 Airman-mothers to participate in a postpartum focus group to develop courses of action and recommendations.”
Johnson and his team were tasked with writing the guidelines for the operationally relevant Level 2 Career Domain 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 that the policy gives our EOD Airman-mothers the time they need to heal after giving birth,” Johnson said. “We don’t want them to rush and get hurt. We’re looking at their career longevity 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 percent of the Air Force, so it’s important to ensure that we have policies in place that support them in their careers, as well as their ability to plan their families,” he said. said Lt. Col. 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 was born, and then you went to see the doctor to get the blessing that you were good to go. This is not the case. During the first 12 months, there are continuous changes: hormonal, physiological and anatomical, … so postpartum care must be more complete.
“Women in EOD have a special mission and higher requirements, so to make the career field mission-ready, we need to have those discussions and make sure our policies also evolve and are inclusive,” said Weird.
There are currently 37 women in the active career field of approximately 1,200 EOD.
“We’re an even smaller group of mothers in EOD, so it’s easy to forget about us,” said Master Sgt. Andrea Rasmussen, EOD Equipment Section Chief, 96th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. “I’m six months postpartum myself and it’s been a challenge. I have medical issues related to my postpartum and have even been to the ER a few 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,” Rasmussen said, “so I’m glad we’re heard here and coming up with some action plans now that this new Tier 2 policy is in place. course. written.”
Task Force members also decided to continue collaborating and developing additional tools and guidance for postpartum EOD Airmen.
“This meeting made me and my male counterparts in attendance realize how little we know about postpartum care in the EOD community,” Johnson said. “Apart from politics, one of our actions will be to create a postpartum playbook and share it on our SharePoint EOD site. It will be a compilation of all the information that healthcare professionals have shared with us today and other highlights of our discussion.
The next steps for Johnson and his team will be to write up the action plans decided upon by the group, which include a proposal to extend the current Level 1 postpartum timeframe, 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 willing to listen and solve problems they may not know about,” Rasmussen said. “This kind of support is paramount not just for postpartum women, but for women in general in the air and space forces.”