SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) —
Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, recently signed a directive that provides pregnant AMC Airmen a streamlined process to access prenatal medical care resources while prioritizing the member’s health privacy and safeguarding unit readiness.
This change follows new efforts by the Department of the Air Force Women’s Initiative Team to mask pregnancies at the unit level to remove current and potential barriers affecting Airmen during pregnancy. Removal of these barriers is part of a broader Airmen readiness effort to minimize stigma surrounding pregnancy.
“Pregnancy is the only medical condition identified in profiles, personnel and readiness systems, making the diagnosis accessible to the unit before some women are able to process the news, determine viability, or even notify their own families,” said Capt. Frances Castillo, WIT lead.
In 2021, the Department of the Air Force Inspector General Disparity Report identified maternal bias as one of the leading reasons women did not feel included in an organization. It indicated in some cases Airmen experienced professional setbacks in the form of limited, delayed or cancelled training and broadening opportunities.
Additionally, the report revealed that one in four women delay pregnancy testing due to concerns that their organization would take action that would adversely impact their duties or career trajectory.
“The Air Force is addressing systemic changes, but until those changes are implemented, I expect everyone under my command to maximize the privacy, health, and readiness of pregnant Airmen,” Minihan said.
Under the new guidance, rather than receiving the previously required 10-month profile with restrictions not applicable until later in the pregnancy, pregnant Airmen will be issued the general 30-day profile that only documents mobility, duty, and fitness restrictions. Additionally, subordinate commanders are directed to minimize automatic recipients of the Air Force Form 469, Form 422, and Department of Defense Form 2992, as well as strictly protect medical information from unauthorized disclosure.
Members are still encouraged to promptly inform their direct unit commanders, but under the new stipulations, the Airman’s pregnancy status remains discretely with limited leadership and health authorities.
“As part of maintaining operational readiness, units must be notified of mobility, duty, and fitness restrictions,” Castillo said. “However, the medical diagnosis driving those deferments should be kept private, similar to every other medical condition, so women are empowered to decide when to make their pregnancy public.”