An Air Force Instruction published earlier this month aims to ensure that Airmen who suffer miscarriages are given time to recover and get back into fighting shape before taking their next fitness assessment. Some of these Airmen weren’t previously guaranteed a minimum grace period before they were forced to test.
Once Airmen’s pregnancies conclude—whether or not they result in childbirth—they will be exempt from taking a fitness assessment for a time period determined by a sliding scale, according to the new instruction, which was published Aug. 7, and replaces AFI 10-203.
Airmen whose pregnancies last for less than 12 weeks won’t need to take a fitness test for “up to 60 days,” while those whose pregnancies last for at least 12, but less than 20, weeks will get an 180-day exemption. Finally, those whose pregnancies last for 20 weeks or more won’t need to take a fitness test for a year.
An Airman may be eligible for more time if they have “medical conditions complicating the pregnancy,” the instruction added.
“The changes are intended to make sure Airmen and Space Professionals who are pregnant, recently delivered, or experience a miscarriage are taken care of and it helps standardize the process for our medical personnel,” wrote Lou Burton, a spokesperson with the Air Force Surgeon General’s Office, in an Aug. 27 email to Air Force Magazine.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Sept. 1 at 1:42 p.m. EDT to clarify the service’s former fitness assessment exemption policy for Airmen who miscarried.