Duckworth Helps Introduce Bill to Ensure Proper-Fitting Body Armor & Protective Equipment is Available for Female Servicemembers
[WASHINGTON, DC] – Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (D-IA), Martha McSally (R-AZ) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in introducing bipartisan legislation to improve troop readiness and effectiveness by addressing issues of inadequate and ill-fitting body armor and personal protective equipment (PPE) across the military.
“When I was serving overseas, I experienced firsthand how our military’s body armor and protective equipment hasn’t always been constructed with the health and comfort of female servicemembers in mind,” Duckworth said. “That’s why I’m proud to be working on this important bipartisan bill that would enhance troop readiness by helping make sure our female servicemembers are properly equipped for combat.”
Recent reports by the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) have shown that access to female-specific PPE and smaller sized PPE was severely limited and only issued to some women who were deploying and not to any females during initial entry training (IET) or in regular unit environments. In addition, their research has shown that poorly-fitting PPE is a leading cause of injury for all servicemembers, those who are deployed and in training. While the service branches have been working to make improvements to achieve the proper protection and fit for PPE for all servicemembers, including females and small statured males, there is still work to be done to ensure all military members are adequately equipped both during training and in combat. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Encourage the Services to expedite the contracting, procuring, and fielding of new generation PPE that better fits and protects all servicemembers, to include females, and reduces preventable injuries.
- Encourage collaboration with academia and industry, utilizing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, human factors modeling, and digital predictive human modeling to develop the next generation of combat equipment and PPE.
- Require the Services to submit a report to Congress in the 2021 Fiscal Year concerning any barriers that they have encountered when fielding their newest versions of PPE to servicemembers. The report would include any cost overruns or contractor delays in fielding this new equipment to servicemembers.
- Require the Defense Health Agency (DHA) to begin administering a trackable system for data input related to injuries to accompany the issuance of new PPE. This could be done through an already-existing system such as the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System (DOEHRS).
- Require DHA to provide a report to Congress in the 2025 Fiscal Year identifying the prevalence of preventable injuries attributed to ill-fitting or malfunctioning PPE.
- Require the DoD to include questions in the annual Periodic Health Assessment (PHA) on the nature and prevalence of injuries attributed to ill-fitting or malfunctioning PPE.
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