3rd Munitions Squadron unveils lactation room, prioritizing women's health and mission readiness

  • Published
  • By Maria Galvez
  • 673rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
In a significant step towards prioritizing women's health and enhancing mission readiness, the 3rd Munitions Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson unveiled its first-ever lactation room July 26, 2023.

The initiative came as a response to feedback from a barrier-analysis survey within the 3rd MUNS, which highlighted the need to better support nursing mothers in the squadron. This move aligns with the Department of the Air Force's commitment to women's health as an integral component of a lethal, ready force.

The renovation of the lactation room involved a comprehensive overhaul of an underutilized breakroom, transforming it into a well-equipped space that meets the needs of nursing mothers. The effort involved emptying the room, removing unnecessary fixtures, adding essential amenities, and creating a nurturing ambiance with decor and repurposed furniture.

The 3rd Wing has joined the effort and has secured funding for nine additional Mamava lactation pods, strategically positioned to aid nursing mothers across the entire wing.

"I am proud of the 3rd MUNS leadership team for getting after projects that help improve our Airmen’s quality of life and make daily operations easier,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Kevin Jameison, 3rd Wing commander. “Our Airmen deserve the best and Maj. VanArtsdalen and his team are delivering."

The impact of the lactation room on the lives of nursing mothers within the squadron is palpable.

"Having this space set aside will make things so much more comfortable,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Amanda Becker, a munitions control section chief assigned to the 3rd MUNS and nursing mother. “Especially since I am strictly pumping and I know how inconvenient it would have been to do it in a bathroom.”

"This room has made it possible for me to continue my career and give my baby the best nutrients simultaneously which I will forever be grateful for," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Gates Winder, munitions controller also assigned to the 3rd Munitions Squadron and nursing mother.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan VanArtsdalen, 3rd Munitions Squadron commander, emphasized its significance in recruitment and retention.

"The lack of nursing opportunities for new moms is a recruitment and retention issue. We listened to the feedback and are committed to making a difference in helping our Airmen across the 3rd Munitions Squadron and 3rd Wing," he said.

The Department of the Air Force has emphasized the importance of women's health and well-being, positioning it as a cornerstone of a prepared and efficient military force. As part of this commitment, the squadron renovated a space to serve as a dedicated lactation room, providing nursing mothers with a comfortable and conducive environment to continue breastfeeding.

The procedures for implementing the lactation room were thoughtfully designed to balance the mission readiness needs of the units while also providing nursing mothers with the necessary space and time for breastfeeding. These measures are in line with the goals set by the executive summary of the United States Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding for at least one year after childbirth.

The lactation room at the 3rd MUNS not only signifies a positive shift in the squadron's support for nursing mothers but also exemplifies the Air Force's broader commitment to fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment for its personnel.

"Generating airpower starts with Airman readiness,” said VanArtsdalen. “We owe them the best workplace environment that helps them focus on their well-being so they can in return best support their family and the mission."