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Ciara O'Rourke
By Ciara O'Rourke March 10, 2021

The Air Force introduced maternity flight duty uniforms before Biden took office

If Your Time is short

  • The Air Force introduced maternity flight duty uniforms during the Trump administration so that women aviators with uncomplicated pregnancies could continue to perform flight duties.
 

A blog post shared on social media casts President Joe Biden as the man behind an unbelievable plot: sending pregnant women into battle. 

"NOT A GAFFE," the headline says. "Biden is making ‘maternity flight suits’ so pregnant women can fight in the military." 

The post, which cites remarks Biden made on March 8 — International Women’s Day — says that "Biden announced that under him, the United States military would be making ‘maternity flight suits’ for pregnant women." 

This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

On International Women’s Day, Biden gave a speech in which he talked about making it easier and safer for more women to join and stay in the military. He said that women in the military know there’s more work to be done to ensure their leadership is recognized and that all women feel safe and respected.

"Some of it is relatively straightforward work where we’re making good progress designing body armor that fits women properly," Biden said, "tailoring combat uniforms for women, creating maternity flight suits, updating requirements for their hairstyles." 

But maternity flight suits are not new, and they weren’t introduced under the Biden administration, as this blog post suggests.

In September 2019 — when Donald Trump was president — the U.S. Air Force updated its policies to "reduce barriers on pregnant aviators who perform flight duties and have uncomplicated pregnancies," according to a statement from the military branch. "This update allows many women to keep performing flight duties during their pregnancy, maintain currency, and prevent postpartum requalification training."

About a year later, the Air Force announced it was seeking pregnant service members to participate in a "maternity flight duty uniform fit and wear" test as part of that effort.

The statement quotes 1st Lt. Avery Thomson, a lead program manager for maternity development in the Air Force Uniform Office, as saying that the effort was important for the approximately 400 pregnant airmen each year who had previously been modifying their flight duty uniforms "at a significant personal financial cost" or "borrowing bigger uniforms from their husbands, which creates a safety of flight issue." 

Air Force Magazine reported at the time that the new uniforms were among the steps the Air Force was taking to help "encourage more women to pursue rated careers and not force them to choose between becoming aviators and mothers." Pilot, combat systems officer, air battle manager and remotely piloted aircraft pilot are the four so-called "rated career" fields in the Air Force. Non-rated positions include work in intelligence, maintenance and engineering.

A senior master sergeant who inspired the uniform initiative said in a September 2020 press release from the Air Force that finding a properly fitting maternity uniform when she was pregnant in 2018 and 2019 was problematic.

"I was a new superintendent of a very large squadron, and five of our Airmen were pregnant at the same time, including myself," said the senior master sergeant, who was identified only as Genevieve for security reasons. "Every one of us had numerous challenges accessing maternity uniform items."

Our ruling

The blog post claims that Biden is making "maternity flight suits" so pregnant women can fight in the military. 

The Air Force has been working on making "maternity flight duty uniforms" available to its service members, an initiative that started during the Trump administration after airmen struggled to find uniforms that fit during their pregnancies. 

According to the Air Force, it’s part of an effort to level the playing field for women and men serving in that branch of the military, and it allows women to keep performing their flight duties during pregnancy. 

This is not a new initiative so that Biden can dispatch pregnant women to fight.   

We rate this blog post Mostly False.

 

Our Sources

TrendingPolitics, NOT A GAFFE: Biden is making ‘maternity flight suits’ so pregnant women can fight in the military, March 9, 2021

The White House, Remarks by President Biden on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021

Air Force Material Command, Air Force Uniform Office is looking for pregnant volunteers, Nov. 18, 2020

Air Force Magazine, Pregnant airmen needed to test out USAF’s maternity flight suits, Nov. 19, 2020

Fayetteville State University, Rated careers, visited March 10, 2021

Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Division leading efforts to field maternity flight suits, Sept. 14, 2020

Air Force Reserve Command, Reservist’s maternity issues sparks reform, Sept. 1, 2020

 

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The Air Force introduced maternity flight duty uniforms before Biden took office

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