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Tags: usa | air force | space force | navy | beards | active

Air Force, Space Force Ponder Program for Growing Beards

a man shaves his beard
(Dreamstime)

By    |   Tuesday, 23 August 2022 03:05 PM EDT

The Department of the Air Force is reportedly considering a pilot program that would permit airmen and Guardians to grow beards.

If the program garners test approval, USAF officials would fulfill one of the most popular requests among male service members for the Air Force and Space Force, in terms of grooming while in active duty.

According to reports, for the much-trafficked Amn/NCO/SNCO Facebook page, which serves as a request/vent portal and shares "insider information" about various duty stations, a flood of emails and messages has been posted in support of the USAF's pilot program, which would "test and research the impacts of male facial hair."

The test findings would then be reported to the Department of Defense.

"The screenshots reflect a volunteer's recommendation for how to proceed if a proposal for a pilot program is approved," Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman for the Department of the Air Force, told Military.com, while adding the proposal is "being discussed."

Specifically, Stefanek said the ideas were broached to the department's Black/African Employment Strategy Team.

According to studies from the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, some service members frequently get ingrown hairs and skin irritations known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, or PFB.

The condition is often found in curly-haired men and occurs in about 60% of African-American men.

Beards are already allowed in the Air Force ranks, in special cases that warrant a religious or medical waiver. 

A 2021 study for the Military Medicine journal showed that 21.4% of those who received shaving waivers felt it had a negative impact on their military career. And from that negative-consequences group, 63% of respondents were African American.

One of the screenshot emails on Facebook was signed by Space Force Brig. Gen. Devin R. Pepper, the deputy director of the Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate for U.S. Space Command.

When discussing the pilot program for facial hair, the email qualified that all beards would comply to being "neat in appearance, shaped appropriately, and not faddish."

A possible limit growth: One-quarter of an inch.

In May, the Air Force published a memorandum outlining updates to the Department of the Air Force Instruction 36-2903, Dress and Personal Appearance of United States Air Force and United States Space Force Personnel, which includes mustache and joint-unit patch wear guidance. 

Mustache update: No portion of the mustache will extend below the lip line of the upper lip. Additionally, the mustache will not go beyond a horizontal line extending across the corners of the mouth.

And in March, the U.S. Navy announced a new policy in which sailors diagnosed with PFB would not be dismissed from the ranks for not shaving, and would be allowed to edge and outline their beards.

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Newsfront
The Department of the Air Force is reportedly considering a pilot program that would permit airmen and Guardians to grow beards.
usa, air force, space force, navy, beards, active
452
2022-05-23
Tuesday, 23 August 2022 03:05 PM
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