Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, put forward a bipartisan measure to correct issues of inadequate and ill-fitting equipment and ensure troop readiness and effectiveness
WASHINGTON—After working closely with soldiers and commanders of the U.S. service branches—including meetings in Kuwait and Afghanistan with U.S. troops and military leaders just last week—U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate, is putting forward a commonsense, bipartisan proposal to ensure body armor and personal protective equipment (PPE) is adequate, properly-fitted, and readily available for female servicemembers.
“Women continue to make strides in serving in critical roles within our nation’s military. As a woman who served in combat and commanded troops during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and with my own daughter who is going through training right now at West Point, I understand just how important it is for all servicemembers to be properly equipped for the battlefield,” said Senator Ernst, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities. “Right now, female servicemembers are facing injuries due to ill-fitting equipment. We must do better for our military men and women. This commonsense, bipartisan proposal is a step toward ensuring adequate and proper-fitting equipment is readily available to our female servicemembers to ensure their readiness, survivability, and effectiveness in 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.
Senator Ernst’s bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), would: