Body Armor? One Size Does Not Fit All

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Back in the dark ages when I went in the Army – 1975 – women were beginning the ramp up to increase our percentages in the ranks. The Vietnam War had taken a toll on recruiting and women were seen as a viable new soldier labor pool.

101st Airborne Division female Soldiers first to test prototype body armor. Photo by U.S. Army

There were some things we noticed right away about being in a man’s world. Our barracks bathroom had urinals. Now, we figured if we had to clean the damn things we might as well use them; to wash off our combat boots. Worked for us.

Fort McClellan, Alabama was home to the Women’s Army Corps then, so there weren’t that many things out-of-place. The firing range was interesting. Using an acronym the Romans must have come up with for fighting – BRAS – Breathe, Relax, Aim and Squeeze – was a reminder for us as well as the Military Police School students stationed there on how to fire our M-16s. This early introduction to being in a man’s world seemed natural. One adapted.

Perhaps this is why when I read the article yesterday about the Army getting around to testing women’s body armor, I paused. Women have been in the Army a LONG TIME. Took them this long to figure out different body armor was needed? During Desert Storm we pulled flak vests from Air Force Reserve troops in Alaska to outfit our flight nurses, med techs, ops officers and admin staff in my Squadron when we deployed them overseas.

But even back then in the Air Force Reserve in 1989 I had been issued men’s fireproof (?) long underwear for under my flightsuit. And don’t get me started on who flightsuits were designed for in the first place. Unless you are thin and skinny, us women with curves had challenges getting the darn things to fit. Then add the extra bulk of the long underwear front slot where I didn’t need it. Imagine. Looked like a badger was having a fight inside my flightsuit at times.

I’m glad the Army is getting around to covering my warrior sisters with proper fitting body armor. About time. Hope they cancelled the makeup class I had to attend in basic training. Just saying….

Read the article here http://www.stripes.com/news/army-testing-body-armor-made-for-women-1.189212

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