The Navy is starting a new pilot program to issue maternity uniforms to pregnant service members for free.
The program will start on January 2, 2022 and last until 2026. The Navy will select 400 volunteers – including enlisted, officers, active and reserve component sailors – from around the world, who will be issued a full array of authorized Navy maternity uniforms, according to a memo.
After 12 months, if the maternity uniforms prove to be a success, more volunteers will be selected to test the clothing and give periodic feedback. Volunteers need to be pregnant before qualifying for the maternity pilot program.
Usually, pregnant military members have to buy new uniforms for maternity, and while some branches give service members an allowance to buy the uniforms, others do not.
In the Navy, women can get approval for a uniform allowance, which they can ask for once they have documentation that they are pregnant, according to the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Services. In most cases, they can wear the maternity uniform for six months postpartum.
In the Army, the woman’s health care provider must write a letter for maternity uniforms to be issued and soldiers are not provided a maternity uniform allowance. The Soldier’s doctor dictates how long the maternity uniform may be worn postpartum due to the their size and comfort level, according to the advisory committee.
Members of the Navy who are pregnant can apply to the pilot program now. Those who are chose will receive maternity working, service and dress uniforms, and a maternity cardigan sweater to test out. Hemming and shipment of uniforms will be performed free of charge, according to the Navy.
CBS News has reached out to the U.S. Navy for comment and is waiting response.