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Marine Corps prepares maternity uniforms

New uniforms to address the needs of pregnant members of the U.S. Marine Corps were announced on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Systems Command 
New uniforms to address the needs of pregnant members of the U.S. Marine Corps were announced on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Marine Corps Systems Command 

April 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Marine Corps announced Wednesday the upcoming rollout of maternity uniforms, with some to be available this month.

Formal uniforms, known as "dress blues," do not currently fit the needs of female Marines in late stages of pregnancy, and service, dress, combat and physical training uniforms will be redesigned.

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A statement from the Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va., on Wednesday said the changes will incorporate "improvements to existing uniforms and the development of new clothing items."

The project is meant to equip Marines with appropriate clothing, as well as support of recruitment and retention efforts.

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The rollout comes after nine months of discussions within the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, a committee assembled by the Secretary of Defense.

"The population of expectant Marines may be small," Lucinda Stocks, of MCSC's Program Manager Infantry Combat Equipment, said in the statement, "but developing these maternity uniforms is important for the future of the Marine Corps."

The changes to accommodate expectant Marines, to be completed by the end of the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2022, will include adjustable side tabs on shirts, "certified maternity physical training shorts" and nursing undershirts suitable for breastfeeding.

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The U.S. Air Force was the first to investigate uniform adjustments for pregnant personnel.

In 2019, it began a partnership with MCSC to obtain data on design concepts and ideas, and in 2020 initiated tests with 25 volunteers who were measured for the Air Force's Maternity Flight Duty Uniform.

In January, the Air Force changed its regulations to allow service women to wear longer hair. Plans for a similar action were announced in March by the U.S. Army.

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"This is one way we are working to improve the lives of our soldiers, by putting people first, understanding their concerns, taking action when necessary and maintaining their razor-sharp edge of readiness," Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, deputy chief of staff for Army Personnel, said in January.

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