WIT champions win for DoD members; new policy authorizes breast milk shipment reimbursement

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

The Department of Defense recently announced that effective April 7, 2022, the Joint Travel Regulations (JTR) will allow nursing service members and civilian employees to be reimbursed for breast milk shipment costs when on official travel for more than three days.

This change was championed by the Department of the Air Force Women’s Initiatives Team, one of seven DAF Barrier Analysis Working Groups, after identifying this barrier for DoD members who relocate for temporary duty during the first year after birth.

“This change is a huge step and great benefit for lactating uniformed service members and DoD civilian employees,” said Maj. Samantha Sliney, WIT co-lead. “The DAF WIT has been working for two and a half years to push this through the JTR change process so members can be provided the necessary support to continue accomplishing the mission while meeting the demands of parenthood.”

According to the DoD release, the JTR were revised to specify that breast milk shipping costs may be reimbursed during temporary duty travel as a special need travel accommodation.

The release further detailed authorized expenses may include reasonable commercial shipping fees, excess baggage, disposable storage bags or non-durable containers, cold shipping packages, refrigeration and transport. A maximum of $1,000 will be reimbursed when authorized.

This change is another step toward supporting nursing service members. The DAF announced August 2019 that commanders must provide dedicated spaces in the immediate vicinity of the workplace for the purpose of pumping breast milk. The policy also clarified that supervisors must provide uniformed and civilian employees 15-30 minutes to pump breast milk every three to four hours for at least one year postpartum.

“Parents experience a myriad of issues when returning to work after giving birth to include the delicate balance between providing nutrition for their child while answering the demands of their job,” Sliney said. “This critical change enables all Department of Defense service members and civilian employees to serve to their full potential during all phases of life.”

The memorandum for the Joint Travel Regulations revision can be found here.