Troops To Be Reimbursed for Shipping Breastmilk to Newborns

Troops To Be Reimbursed for Shipping Breastmilk to Newborns


When Air Force weather officer Maj. Jenna Waites received official travel orders training at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., she was in a dilemma as she had to separate from her newborn child for 10 days. 

A newborn who was still breastfeeding. She decided to ship a 45-pound case of breastmilk, and it cost her nearly $500. 

Like Waites, there are many other military moms who have to leave their infants for temporary duty and ship breast milk all the way home to their babies. And because it has to stay frozen, the only option people have is express delivery. 

This cost is not affordable for most military members, and this can pressure them to choose between their infants and advancing their careers. In a press release, Waites said that if she had to pay the same amount when she was young and serving as a second lieutenant, she wouldn't have been able to afford it. 

However, with the help of some volunteers from the Department of the Air Force Women's Initiatives Team, military mothers might be able to get discounts. They would only have to pay the bare minimum to keep their infants fed. A policy change is expected in January of 2022 that will add the benefit of reimbursement for mailing breast milk when a mother is separated from her baby. 

This amendment in the policy might also provide a safe place where mothers can pump and store breast milk while on duty. The policy will also cover the cost of the breast pump and other supplies until the child turns three. 

According to the data published by the Women's Initiative Team, about one-fifth of all active-duty airmen leave on temporary duty a year after their baby is born. 

Breastfeeding a child is not only the most affordable way to feed an infant, but stopping breastfeeding can take a toll on parents' mental health and might increase the risk of diseases like diabetes and cancer.