Coast Guard Will Now Cover Shipping Cost Of Breast Milk For New Moms

by Julie Scagell
Originally Published: 

They will reimburse shipping costs up to $750 per year

If you’ve ever worked outside the home after having a baby, you know there are so many considerations to think about before going back to the office. There’s daycare, schedules, guilt (and then mountains more guilt), and, if you’re breastfeeding, where/how/when you’ll be able to pump and store your milk. The U.S. Coast Guard is trying to make things easier for new moms returning to work by helping offset some of the financial burdens of sending that milk home.

Moms on duty who wish to send breast milk back home for their babies will now qualify for up to $750 of yearly shipping costs via a new program, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement. The program is in response to feedback from the Women’s Retention Study and Holistic Analysis and in support of the Commandant’s Strategic Intent to

Improve Support Programs for the Mission Ready Total Workforce which examined the root causes of women’s attrition and potential barriers it faces.

“Although the Coast Guard enjoys one of the highest retention rates among the five military branches, we must do better,” said Admiral Charles W. Ray, Vice Commandant of the Coast Guard. “This study is an important element in our broader effort to recruit and retain an inclusive and diverse workforce that reflects the American public we serve. It is every leader’s responsibility to identify and eliminate elements of our culture that may inhibit equal participation and opportunity in our Service.”

The program is available to all active duty members which include Public Health Service officers, US Navy chaplains attached to the Coast Guard, Reservists on Active Duty for Operational Support (and their spouses), and civilian employees, the Coast Guard said.

A RAND Corporation study found women leave active-duty positions at the Coast Guard at higher rates than men and retention rates at five years of service was 5.6 percent higher for men and at just less than 20 years of service, that percentage increased to thirteen.

There are aspects of serving in the military that impact women, specifically moms, that men may not experience in the same way. Extended deployments, childbirth, breastfeeding, lack of female role models, and the guilt and shame many are forced to feel because they are moms and are expected to be primary caregivers all contribute to retention rates.

There are many aspects that working moms can relate to but the time spent away from their kids is considerably longer, which amplifies all of these experiences exponentially.

Eligible members can apply for reimbursement at the conclusion of any period away from home for longer than 72 hours. Eligible members that find themselves on extended periods away

from home over 60 days can have a family member apply for the reimbursement on their behalf.

This isn’t a catch-all solution for the issues women face in the military, but it’s a positive step in the right direction.

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