It’s a New Air Force…and Pregnant Women Can Apply

Klemen K. Misic/

Recruiting is down across all of the branches of the U.S. military. This means that they have to be creative about recruiting as well as who they allow into the various branches. In the past, there were certain health concerns that would automatically disqualify you from joining the military or advancing into officer training.

Some of those health concerns have been lifted to ensure that more qualified individuals are reaching the positions where they will thrive.

Even pregnant women can have a successful career within the Air Force.

The Air Force and Space Force announced on September 30 that pregnant women now have the ability to apply for a position within the Air Force’s Officer Training School (OTS). This change will make it possible for more women to enter the officer corps.

In the past, pregnant enlisted airmen, guardians, and civilians were barred from starting the process until they were at least 12 months postpartum. Of course, there were some waivers for those interested in submitting an application earlier.

Now, women have the ability to apply for a spot at the training school while they’re six months pregnant. If accepted, they’ll start their training just six months after the pregnancy is over. No waivers need to be sought.

Captain Frances Castillo has been an advocate for revising the guidance. She made the comment to Military Times that “This policy update…unequivocally shatters the glass ceiling that has kept or delayed hundreds of women from competing for a [Department of the Air Force] commission.”

Castillo feels that this update is critical as it ensures that highly qualified candidates get to where they need to be without having to decide between a career and a family.

The update was authorized by Air Force Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs John Fedrigo. The change will apply to not only active duty airmen and guardians but also civilians and those within the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard.

With the new rule changes, it makes it so that women can seek higher positions. Of course, applicants must still be able to pass physical and fitness tests. If they can prove to do that before the six-month postpartum mark, waivers and exceptions are available. Additionally, if women cannot pass those tests within 14.5 months postpartum, they will lose their spot at OTS.

It is clear that the Air Force has changed. Many of the bureaucratic and cultural hurdles that female applicants and service members have faced over the years have been removed. Men and women have the same opportunities. And pregnancy shouldn’t have to stand in a woman’s way of moving up the chain of command.

Approximately 25 percent of the active duty officers in the Air Force and Space Force are women – and only about 7 percent of those female officers are pilots.

There’s room for more talent.

Air Force Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jones made the comment, “We’re in a race for talent, and our policies need to reflect that. This policy change will ensure we’re able to fully tap into the talent amongst our force as well as those looking to join us.”

These changes are already effective. It’s a major milestone. Men have always been able to move up as they grow their families. Now, women will have the same opportunities to do so.