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The Air Force and Space Force are thinking about testing beards

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In Science and Space: The Air Force is discussing a pilot program to allow Pilots and Guardians to grow beards, one of the most requested changes to uniform and grooming standards among members of the Air Force. army.

Screenshots of emails and messages posted on the popular Amn/NCO/SNCO Facebook page, where Airline employees often go to share and share inside information about their duty stations, describe a possible pilot program “will examine and study the effects of male facial hair”. and report the results to the Ministry of Defense.

The potential test comes as other branches of service have developed policies that restrict shaving for troops – especially African-American men – who suffer from painful ingrown hairs.

Air Force Department spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the screenshots were taken by a volunteer discussing the idea with the department’s black/African employment strategy team, adding that the pilot program proposal points have not been approved yet.

An email discussing opportunities for the Air Force’s pilot program says Selected Pilots and Guards will be allowed to grow facial hair as long as they “are groomed for their appearance, are in proper shape, and are not fashionable”. Those in the program will limit growth to a quarter of an inch. Some members of the service regularly experience ingrown hairs and skin irritation known as pseudo-folliculitis, or PFB. The condition is most commonly found in men with curly hair and occurs in about 60 percent of African-American men, according to studies from the American College of Dermatology.

Beards are only allowed in the Air Force with religious or medical exemptions. Some African-American soldiers have said that shaving harms their careers. A survey conducted for a 2021 study for the journal Military Medicine found that, of those exempted from shaving, 21.4% said it had a negative impact on their career. But an alarming 63% of those who say it harms their career or creates negative prejudice in their unit are African-American.

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Some services have attempted to resolve this issue. The Navy announced a new policy in March, stating that sailors diagnosed with PFB would not be removed from the ranks for not shaving and would be allowed to trim and style their beards instead of being forced to grow them. they.

A large number of Guardians, like service members in other branches, are advocating for beards online. In a recent article, Major Mark D. “Nix” Natale – an army officer who has been transferred to British Army Headquarters in Andover, UK, who has been transferred to the Space Force – said the Enabling more progressive facial hair policies would raise morale dramatically.

Natale writes: “We should not build a culture limited by the past. “Look at the future. Don’t be afraid of the beard; Resistance is futile. “

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