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DEVCOM Leads Effort to Make Warfighter Footwear More Inclusive

Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

NATICK, Mass. – Army Footwear Researchers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, are investigating the need for, and potential impact of boots made specifically for females. The effort will help to determine if there is a need for female-specific footwear lasts — lasts are the forms on which footwear is constructed.

Anita Perkins is a footwear research engineer in the Soldier Protection Directorate at DEVCOM SC and the technical lead for the Army Combat Boot Improvement effort, as well as the cross-service Female Fit and Size effort. Perkins explained that the cross-service Female Fit and Size effort will determine if female warfighters are adequately accommodated by the current combat and safety footwear.

Perkins trained several members of the Product Manager Soldier Clothing & Individual Equipment, or PdM SCIE, team in proper fitting techniques so they could then assist in fitting events at Langley Air Force Base, Fort Lee and Naval Station Norfolk. Her training of PdM SCIE team members and their assistance at the fitting events proved to be a great asset to the effort. PdM SCIE is part of Project Manager, Soldier Survivability at PEO Soldier.

“The goal of this effort is to improve the fit of combat boots for female service members, ultimately improving Soldier performance, enhancing comfort, and preventing injuries,” said Perkins. “Fit is a significant factor in footwear comfort. Improperly fitted boots can play a significant role in Soldier performance and increase injury risk, ranging from blisters to stress fractures.”


“It is in the interest of all services to ensure that female warfighters are adequately accommodated by properly fitted issued combat and safety footwear,” said Perkins. “Female members of all services are experiencing the same fit concerns with issued footwear. Some footwear items are offered in female-specific sizes, but it is still unclear whether all the shapes and sizes are accounted for with these female-specific sizes.”

Perkins explained that “the inclusion of the other services will allow for a unified, cross-service solution so that sizing and options are consistent across the branches.” Joint service participation increases opportunities for cross-service commonality in footwear, which will reduce the cost to each service and provide more capabilities.


“Gender-related differences in foot anthropometry are well documented,” said Perkins. “In terms of footwear fit, however, the effects of these differences are not well-quantified. There is a dearth of research evaluating how these anthropometric differences or female specific lasts impact the fit of footwear, especially in relation to combat boots. By studying and quantifying these effects, the Female Fit and Size effort will help to determine if there is a need for female-specific footwear lasts and/or additional sizing or width availability to improve the fit, comfort, and performance of combat and safety footwear for female warfighters.”

Perkins noted that many commercial boots and shoes advertised as female sizes are built on the same lasts as their male counterparts. The Female Fit and Size effort will evaluate four types of boots, including the unisex non-safety toe or soft-toe combat boots, female-specific soft-toe combat boots, unisex steel-toe combat boots, and female-specific steel-toe combat boots.

During testing, participants will carry out warfighter-specific tasks. Some of the common tasks for all the services include walking on multiple surfaces, including pavement, cement, grass, dirt, decks and floors; walking at a variety of speeds; walking on wet surfaces; running; climbing on and off a two-foot-high box; stair climbing; ladder climbing; walking up and down an incline; taking a knee and squats.

Participants will also perform service-specific tasks, including run and cut — performed by the Army and Air Force; marching while carrying a loaded rucksack — Army — and walking on metal decks, grating and gangways — common in a Navy environment.


The DEVCOM Soldier Center’s expertise in clothing, equipment and human factors — combined with the center’s unique testing capabilities and facilities — are playing an important role in the effort.

DEVCOM SC’s footwear engineers from the Soldier Protection Directorate’s Soldier Clothing, Footwear, and Integration Team are managing the project. The footwear engineers are experts in footwear materials, design, construction, and fitting criteria – expertise needed to interpret Soldier footwear preference and quantitative data.

DEVCOM SC’s Applied Ergonomics team will collect 3D foot measurements using the center’s 3D foot scanner. The foot scanner measures length, width, volume and arch height to help Soldiers obtain a more accurate fit.

In June 2021, Army Footwear subject-matter experts provided training on boot fitting to other DEVCOM SC personnel supporting the fit assessment. The knowledge of experienced footwear fitters will play an important role in the effort.

As part of the effort, the Applied Ergonomics Team will be conducting an assessment of the combat boot, the boot last and foot scans in the DEVCOM SC’s 3D Morphometry Laboratory. The team will also measure foot anthropometry manually without the scanner to obtain specifics for predicting boot size. The team’s dynamic foot assessment will include tasks related to human factors, as well as a questionnaire regarding fit, comfort, number of sizes tried on, and any other feedback.


As is the case with much of the work done by the DEVCOM SC, Soldier feedback plays a critical role in the Female Fit and Size effort.

“During the fit assessment, Soldier feedback will determine which size and width of each type of boot is preferred,” said Perkins. “The ‘best fit’ of each of the four boot types being assessed will be worn during the dynamic fit assessment. Soldier feedback will also be collected during and after the dynamic fit assessment. The data from the 3D foot scans and foot dimension measurements will be analyzed and correlated to the feedback of each participant. These data will drive recommendations for future military footwear requirements to ensure female warfighters are issued combat and safety footwear of appropriate size and fit.”

Overall, the Female Fit and Size effort is part of DEVCOM SC’s larger commitment to meeting the needs of female warfighters.

By Jane Benson, DEVCOM Soldier Center Public Affairs

AFIMSC Prioritizes Diversity, Inclusion for EOD Physical Fitness Test

Sunday, January 23rd, 2022


The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is leading the postpartum health guidance revisions for the upcoming explosive ordnance disposal Airmen-specific physical fitness test policy.

“We’re taking into account the mother’s needs while still keeping to the higher standard for the career field’s physical demands,” said Master Sgt. John Johnson, AFIMSC’s Installation Support EOD Program resource analyst. “We went right to the source and invited six EOD mother-Airmen to participate in a postpartum working group to develop courses of action and recommendations.”

Johnson and his team were given the charge to write the guidance for the career field’s operationally relevant Tier 2 PFT, which unlike the Tier 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 mother-Airmen the correct amount of time to heal after giving birth,” Johnson said. “We don’t want them to rush back in and get hurt. We’re looking at the longevity of their careers and we’re here to see what we can do to help.”

Women’s health professionals were also present at the working group.

“Women make up 20% 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 support them in their abilities to plan their families,” said Lt. Col. Larissa Weir, chief women’s health consultant to the Air Force Surgeon General. “Postpartum care for all women in general is evolving. We used to think the postpartum period was the first six weeks after the baby was born and then you go see the doctor to get the blessing that you were good to go. That’s not the case. For the first 12 months, there are continuous changes: hormonal, physiologic, and anatomic, … so postpartum care needs to be more comprehensive.

“Women in EOD have a special mission and more stringent requirements, so in order for the career field to be mission ready, we need to have these discussions and ensure our policies also evolve and are inclusive,” Weir said.

There are currently 37 women in the approximately 1,200 active EOD career field.

“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 am six months postpartum myself and it’s been a challenge. I have medical issues pertaining to my postpartum and have even gone to the emergency room a few times. All this while trying to take care of myself, take care of my home, take care of my daughter, take care of my work and prepare for a physical fitness test.

“I want to remain fully qualified and continue to be an asset to my team,” Rasmussen said, “so I’m glad we’re here being heard and coming up with courses of action now as this new Tier-2 policy is being written.”

Members of the working group 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 how little we know about postpartum care in the EOD community,” Johnson said. “Outside of the policy, one of our go-do’s will be to put together a postpartum playbook and share it on our EOD SharePoint site. It’ll be a compilation of all the information the medical professionals shared with us today and other highlights in our discussion.”

The next steps for Johnson and his team will be to write the courses of action decided by the group, which include a proposed extension to the current Tier 1 postpartum delay, and add recommendations for related care. The draft of the Tier 2 test policy will then be sent to Headquarters Air Force for approval.

“I’m glad we have leadership who is willing to listen and willing to address issues that they may not be familiar with,” Rasmussen said. “That kind of support is paramount for not only women experiencing postpartum but women in general across the Air and Space Forces.”

By Malcolm McClendon, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

Navy Kicks off Maternity Uniform Pilot Program – Here are the Details

Monday, December 20th, 2021

WASHINGTON – Having a baby is a joyous time that can also be stressful and expensive. To relieve some of that stress, the Navy and the Department of Defense launched a pilot program to provide maternity uniforms at no cost to the Sailor.

Announced Dec. 15 in NAVADMIN 284/21, this pilot program will test the idea of issuing expectant mothers maternity uniforms, fully hemmed with all required sewn-on accoutrements and shipped at no cost to the Sailor. The program will officially commence January 2, 2022.

“The pilot will run for the next four years and expires on Sept. 30, 2026. Program can support up to 400 Sailors annually starting in calendar year 2022.” said Robert B. Carroll, head of the Navy Uniform Matters. “It’s open on a first-come, first-served basis to officers and enlisted in the active and reserve components worldwide. Following years may support more Sailors consistent with both pilot demand and funding we’ve been provided.”

Sailors will be issued the uniforms with no costs coming out of their pockets, shipped to them free of charge from the Navy Exchange. However, Sailors will be required to turn the items in once their maternity period is over. Participating in the program more than once over the four years is allowed.

Issued maternity uniforms will be the Navy Working Uniform Type III and Service Khaki for E7 and above, and the Navy Service Uniform for E-6 and below. Service Dress Whites and Blues dependent upon the Uniform needed and the Cardigan Sweater will also be issued.

Only the main uniform items, such as blouses, shirts and pants will be issued along with hemming and all required sewn-on accoutrements attached as required.

Participation starts with Sailors routing a request through their chain of command. Once approved, their local Navy Exchange (NEX) uniform shop will measure each for their uniform items. Sailors then forward the request and measurements to the points of contact listed in the NAVADMIN, who review the Sailor’s record for final approval.

Once final approval is done, the Sailor’s information is forwarded to the NEX Call Center by the Uniform Matters Office team. The NEX Call Center will contact the participants directly.

The complete process, details and points of contact are in NAVADMIN 284/21.

Navy uniform policy updates result from Fleet feedback, uniform working group discussions; command sponsored requests and direction from Navy leadership.

From MC1 Mark D. Faram, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

Sword Athena Drives Change in Maternity Uniform Accessibility

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021


Sword Athena is making strides toward greater accessibility to maternity uniforms for expectant Airmen across Air Combat Command.

Sword Athena is designed to identify, tackle and present solutions to female and family-centric barriers to readiness using crowd-sourced topics and a Mission Area Working Group (MAWG) model. During the outbrief to Gen. Mark D. Kelly, ACC commander, in May, they identified several discrepancies on the availability of maternity uniforms at ACC bases and ways the online purchasing could be improved.

In response, Sword Athena partnered with Army and Air Force Exchange Services executives to increase availability of maternity uniforms in stores and sizing guides online. Before these updates, expectant Airmen found it difficult to purchase the appropriate sized uniforms to wear during their pregnancies, often having to resort to alternative methods of acquisition and incurring extra costs.

“A lot of big bases have large military clothing sales. It’s the smaller bases and those in remote locations where it’s particularly challenging to find these uniforms,” said Master Sgt. Aubrey Woodworth, 97th Intelligence Squadron assistant superintendent, Sword Athena member and mother of five. “Usually there is a network of ladies who find other ways to acquire these items, but it is hit or miss. If you’re the first Airmen in your unit who’s been pregnant in a while, it makes it even more challenging.”

Woodworth recounted a time, while stationed overseas, when a colleague had to ask a friend stateside to purchase four different sizes because there were none available to try on or purchase on base.

“Her friend sent her all four uniforms; she tried them on and mailed back the three that didn’t fit,” Woodworth said.

With the help of Col. John Thorne, then a senior officer on the Air Combat Commander’s staff who assisted in translating Sword Athena initiatives into actionable staff packages, the team reached out to Andrew Weaver, AAFES vice president for community outreach. Weaver welcomed the feedback.

Weaver and the AAFES military clothing sales team reviewed inventory of Operational Camouflage Pattern and Service Dress maternity uniforms at locations across the command. This review helped flag clothing sales locations without enough sizing options. “Some locations were joint bases where the exchanges were run by another branch, so their inventory was not populating on Air Force lists,” he said.

To expand the program, the AAFES team worked with the Air Force Materiel Command logistics directorate. AFMC is responsible for setting the limits on inventory available in military clothing stores because the Air Force covers the carrying cost of inventory.

“All ACC bases, except Creech (AFB), had one maternity OCP try-on uniform per size. The intention was for expectant Airmen to then order the uniform from the AAFES website. After our review and working with AFMC, AAFES secured approval to stock two sets of maternity OCP uniforms at Beale (AFB), Creech (AFB), Davis-Monthan (AFB), Moody (AFB), Offutt (AFB), and Seymour Johnson (AFB). All other ACC bases will have 10 sets per size,” he said.

The bases selected for the expanded inventory were locations that sold at least 50 maternity uniforms over the last year.

According to Weaver, the service dress maternity uniform program was also expanded to all ACC bases, which now have at least one size available for fitting. A size chart has also been added to their online listings making sizing easier from any location.

Woodworth is proud of the progress Sword Athena has made to reduce readiness barriers and is already thinking about the next steps.

She noted the importance of forming connections with other Airmen. “The support network is there. Too often we feel like our problems as women should not be discussed in the workplace. If you can overcome that fear and reach out to the master sergeant or the major you saw in maternity uniforms, you’ll find that network,” she said.

Sword Athena uses that network to drive change.

“Many of us were raised to only bring up a problem if we had a solution as well,” said Thorne, 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing vice commander. “Sword Athena has demonstrated that sharing problems across a large group provides the opportunity for Airmen of different backgrounds to share their experiences and construct an actionable solution. One of us doesn’t have all of the answers, but all of us together do.”

By Capt Laura Hayden, Air Combat Command Public Affairs

Sitka Women’s Fahrenheit Jacket

Thursday, October 28th, 2021

The other day I was perusing Sitka’s website after receiving a marketing email, when my wife peered over my shoulder and said, hey, what’s that?

I replied that it was a new jacket for women called the Fahrenheit. The reply came swiftly, “Sitka? You mean that Arrowhead stuff?” And I clarified that Sitka had been around for years and made some of the hunting clothing I had picked up on post-season sale at Dick’s over the years. After a bit of wrangling to get her to understand that Sitka was more than camouflage gear for hunting game and bad guys, she told me that she liked the look of the Fahrenheit.

It’s designed specifically for women and uses some of the best materials on the market for a day outdoors in cool conditions. The shell is GORE-TEX INFINIUM with WINDSTOPPER Technology paired with PrimaLoft insulation, mapped for moisture management with a down blend in the torso and fully synthetic insulation throughout the forearms.

She looked over the color options and prefers Black, but it’s also offered in Hawk (shown), Aegean Blue, and Waterfowl Marsh camouflage for the ladies who go hard in the paint and hunt for their food.

Sizes Small – XLarge (Operational colors also add XXL).

Shoot Like A Girl Continues Hunt Like A Girl Contest in Partnership with Beretta USA

Sunday, September 26th, 2021

ATHENS, Ala. – September 23, 2021 – Shoot Like A Girl has partnered with Beretta USA to host the Hunt Like A Girl™ Contest that will provide  one lucky winner the opportunity to participate in a guided waterfowl hunt in El Campo, Texas, November 15-18, 2021. This contest will give one entrant, who is new to hunting or who has never hunted before, the chance to experience the fall waterfowl season for the first time with an all-female team from Shoot Like A Girl and Beretta. The winner will also receive a gear prize pack from the hunt sponsors. This experience is the third and final of the three hunts planned in partnership with Beretta in 2021.

“It is extremely exciting to team up with Beretta to gift a waterfowl hunt to a new hunter,” Karen Butler, Founder and President of Shoot Like A Girl, said. “This will be an amazing experience for one lucky winner to sit in a duck blind, watch the ducks work their way to the decoys, and see our Shoot Like A Girl dogs at work. We are looking forward to sharing the passion of Beretta and hunting with our winner.”

Contest Details

For the chance to win a hunt of a lifetime, entrants must complete the online entry form in its entirety and nominate either a friend or themselves for the grand prize by submitting a brief “essay” detailing the reason for the nomination within a 1000 character limit. Shoot Like A Girl and Beretta will read all submissions carefully. After the conclusion of the essay entries, the top ten (10) will be selected and voting will open for seven (7) days to select the winner. Entrants or nominees must be 21 years of age or older at the time of entry, must be a legal resident of the United States and have no criminal background (background checks will be conducted for grand-prize winner). The winner will also be required to sign a model release form, so that any photos or video from the hunt can be used online.

While everyone is encouraged to enter and all entries will be considered, Shoot Like A Girl and Beretta are specifically looking for an individual who is new to hunting or has never hunted before. The contest opens on September 23, 2021 and ends October 5, 2021 at 11:59 pm EST. Following the completion of the online essay entry portion, the top ten entrants will be contacted and the Top Ten voting opens online on the Shoot Like A Girl website on October 8 and runs through October 14, 2021. The winner is to be announced on October 15. Full terms and conditions are also available online.


While only one winner will receive a hunt packet from Shoot Like A Girl and Beretta, second place winner will receive a $200 promocode to spend on the Beretta e-store, a third place winner will receive a $100 promocode to spend on the Beretta e-store and remaining fourth through tenth place winners will receive a Shoot Like A Girl Hat co-branded with Beretta logo and Beretta Engraved Mug.

More information about Shoot Like A Girl’s mission, partners, resources, and event schedule is available at

Vertx Adds Three New Pieces to Women’s Lifestyle Collection

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Guardian Tank, Collins Henley and Trailhawk Jacket Give Women Options
Cincinnati, Ohio – Vertx®, a leading manufacturer of concealed carry apparel, packs and accessories, announced today the launch of the Guardian Tank, Collins Henley and Trailhawk Jacket. Vertx® is excited to provide all-season gear for women with the addition of the tank, henley and jacket to it’s existing Women’s Lifestyle Collection.  All three pieces are now available online at and in-store. Customers can find their nearest dealer using the Vertx® store locator at

“When we created this collection, we wanted to give women in our industry a wholistic solution,” said Angela Milligan, VP of Marketing at Vertx. “Women need clothing that can meet all their needs and that’s where Vertx® comes in.”

VTX7010 Guardian Tank in It’s Black
The Guardian Tank and Collins Henley are designed with women’s needs in mind, but don’t skimp on practical features. Like their counterparts in the men’s collection, the tank and henley both feature WeaponGuard™, a protective underlayer that guards the skin from chafing caused by gear worn at the waistline. Weaponguard™ is constructed using 37.5® Active Particle Technology that works with your natural microclimate to keep you comfortable and dry. And while the underlayer works to regulate temperature and stop holster burn, the outer layer prevents printing. The waist-skimming fit of both the tank and henley leaves just enough space to conceal your gear without looking baggy or oversized. The Guardian Tank is available for $46.99 MSRP in It’s Black and Kalamata and the Collins Henley is available for $49.99 MSRP in Warm Wine and Exhaust (Exhaust colorway coming soon).

VTX7020 Trailhawk Jacket in Nightshade
Like the tank and henley, the Trailhawk jacket has also been optimized for CCW. Concealed inside both front pockets of the jacket are zippered passthroughs that provide fast access to waist-worn gear whether it’s worn on the right or left side. For a quick re-load or additional on-body storage, the back of the jacket features an exterior pocket sized to fit AR magazines. The Trailhawk is fabricated with a water-resistant simulated wax finish, making it ideal for standalone wear or layering in colder climates. The Trailhawk Jacket is available for $119.99 MSRP in Grey Sage and Nightshade.

No matter the season, Vertx® provides the solutions women need to carry them through the day and beyond. To learn more about the Guardian Tank, Collins Henley, Trailhawk Jacket and future launches in the Vertx® Women’s Lifestyle Collection visit

Meet the Navy’s First Maternity Flight Suit

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

NORFOLK — On Mother’s Day, many Americans pause to celebrate and reflect on the mothers in their own lives. In the Navy, it’s also important to reflect on the sacrifices made and challenges faced by mothers who serve. At Commander, Naval Air Force Reserve (CNAFR), looking for opportunities to better support Sailors and their families is always a priority.

CNAFR was recently selected to participate in a preliminary rollout of a new maternity flight suit in a step to better support expecting mothers.

Lt. Cmdr. Jacqueline Nordan, CNAFR’s mobilization program manager received the first Navy maternity flight suit earlier this year 

“The addition of this uniform item makes an immediate impact on women in the Navy,” said Nordan. “It shows that leadership is listening and is supportive in response to the issues that female aviators are raising.” 

Nordan explained that the adjustable side panels on the new flight suits provide not only more comfort, but also improve safety and allow female aircrew to maintain their professional appearance throughout their pregnancy. 

“Prior to the maternity flight suit, pregnant aircrew have generally collected larger sized flight suits and gone up through additional sizes throughout their pregnancy, potentially needing three to five additional flight suits,” said Nordan. “Wearing a larger-sized flight suit results in longer hems and sleeves, potentially presenting a safety hazard in the aircrew cleared to fly during pregnancy. Additionally, wearing clothing that is clearly too large for you presents a less professional appearance for daily business. Pregnant aircrew who are not flying are still conducting squadron business. They’re still instructing classes, working in simulators, giving briefings, and representing their organizations. It makes a big difference to be able to continue to represent ourselves professionally in a well-fitting uniform throughout a pregnancy.”

Nordan understands the impact this change will have on her fellow female aircrew’s experience while growing their families and she says she is grateful to be a part of the project. 

“I’m thrilled to participate in moving this initiative forward,” said Nordan. “The CNAFR supply and maintenance teams have put some hard work into determining how we could incorporate these uniforms into our current system, and they deserve all the credit. I get the easy job – I just put the uniform on in the morning and loosen the waist straps as the weeks go by.” 

In making seemingly small changes like these to address uniform and safety concerns of female aircrew, the Navy is also communicating a very important message to women who serve.

“These additions are important because they show that leadership supports the idea that having a career and having a family can be compatible,” said Nordan. “Being a dedicated Navy professional while building a family can be done. Moves like making a daily uniform item more wearable during pregnancy remove some of the small barriers that can build up and discourage women from going down that path.”

The Navy’s maternity flight suit program is still in development. Policy and instructions for obtaining the flight suit will be released as information becomes available.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chelsea Milburn