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Female defenders test new, improved body armor

The new body armor offers better fit for the female defenders by incorporating a curved chest plate and added buckles for adjustability.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Juliana Brooks, 509th Security Forces Squadron defender wears the new female body armor at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, March 26, 2021. The new body armor offers better fit for the female defenders by incorporating a curved chest plate and added buckles for adjustability. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Hommel)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Twenty female defenders assigned to the 509th Security Forces Squadron received the new, better-fitting body armor designed for the female figure.

The defenders will test the vest for one month before they are widely distributed to the women in the squadron.

“I appreciate the time and effort that was put into creating body armor geared toward properly equipping female Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Melissa Villalobos, NCO in charge of logistics with the 509th SFS.

The new vest features a curved front plate and added buckles on the inside making it easily adjustable to fit all shapes and sizes.

After female defenders test the vest during daily operations, they will have the opportunity to provide crucial feedback and suggestions for improvements to the Women’s Initiative Team, Villalobos said.

The Women’s Initiative Team, an effort led by Air Force’s Barrier Analysis Working Group, comprising of volunteers from around the Air Force dedicated to identifying and addressing barriers to women’s careers in policies, processes and programs, in addition to uniform improvements the team also sponsored new hair regulations that took effect in February.

“The new changes for females are great,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Juliana Brooks, 509th SFS defender. “We’re starting to actually feel appreciated and not feel as limited. It is important to make these changes because the world is evolving constantly and we need to keep up to date with that.”

The changes in older regulations and standards are also proving to boost morale.

“I think that the Air Force has made many necessary changes and is headed in the right direction to become more inclusive for all people,” Villalobos said. “These changes help us grow as leaders and as Airmen.”