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Capts. Adam and Justin Bolten cr.jpgCapt. Justine Bolten, occupational therapist assigned to 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI), poses for a photo on Fort Drum, New York. Left: Capt. Adam Bolten, an infantry officer assigned to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), pins the Expert Field Medical Badge on his wife, Capt. Justine Bolten, May 26,  during the 10th Mountain Division’s E3B awards ceremony at Fort Drum. (U.S. Army photos by Sgt. 1st Class Neysa Canfield, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office)

Soldier with 10th Mountain Division Sustainment finds strength, resiliency through motherhood

Sgt. 1st Class Neysa Canfield

10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office

FORT DRUM. N.Y. (June 14, 2022) – When Capt. Justine Bolten found out that she was pregnant in August of 2020, like most women, she was filled with happiness and joy; however, there was an underlying feeling of anxiousness about this new chapter in her life.

“It felt like I was just starting my career, and now it was ending,” said Bolten, an occupational therapist assigned to the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (LI). “At that time, I was so new to the Army, and it just felt a bit scary.”

Bolten, who commissioned in the U.S. Army in January 2020, added that the feeling of anxiousness came from the fear of being isolated from her peers.

“As a pregnant Soldier, you are non-deployable, and so you begin to feel like ‘what good am I for,’ and that really affects you mentally,” she added. “I also never really thought about being a mom. I have always been career-driven, so when I found out I was pregnant, it was very much a surprise.”

But those unsettling feelings slowly diminished as the months progressed.

“I felt super supported by my team and my senior leadership. They were encouraging and even pushed me to challenge myself on days when I had that negative mindset,” Bolten added. “They were all very encouraging not only during my pregnancy but also during my postpartum journey.”

Laura Miller, program director for the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade’s Holistic Health and Fitness section, was one of the team members who helped Bolten during her time in need.

“I think our role as her teammates was to provide moral support and reassurance to her, because it's a big milestone in her life and it can be terrifying,” Miller said. “We wanted her to be able to take care of herself but also to know that she could rely on us for whatever she needed.”

In April 2021, Bolten and her husband, Adam, welcomed their son, Liam, into the world.

A month before, on March 19, the U.S. Army announced an exception to policy that extended the timeline for postpartum Soldiers to meet body fat standards from 180 days to 365 days.

As a new mom and newly commissioned officer, this news came with a sigh of relief, according to Bolten.

“At six months, Soldiers are sometimes taking dramatic and at times dangerous measures to meet standards that can impact their health and their baby’s health. The policy, I think, helped take away that unhealthy pressure,” she explained.

Now more than a year later, the U.S. Army implemented a new parenthood, pregnancy, and postpartum directive, which updated regulations to help support all Army parents and families. Among the updates was the postpartum body fat standards extension.

Bolten, whose postpartum period ended in April 2022, said the extension gave her the support and time to succeed.

“One year is a great timeframe to be able to perform as a Soldier again in a healthy manner,” she said. “It gave me time to learn how to navigate being a mom while also still being a wife to my husband and provider for the Soldiers in my unit.”

So when an opportunity to challenge herself opened up in May, Bolten decided to put herself to the test.

“I don’t like letting the fear of a new challenge or the possibility of failure push me away,” Bolten said. “I knew going into it that earning my (Expert Field Medical Badge) would be difficult, but I made it a goal to at least attempt it.”

After two weeks of testing her tactical and technical skills, Bolten earned her EFMB.

“The badge has a different meaning to me now that I am a mom,” she said. “I look at my son and want him to know that his mom is strong and that because of him, I have learned to be stronger and more resilient.”

For Miller and the rest of the H2F team, Bolten earning her EFMB was no surprise.

“She never gives herself room to have excuses for why she can’t do things, and I think a lot of that has to do with her support system. She has a very encouraging husband who is always there for her,” Miller explained. “It is absolutely incredible to watch her be so career-driven, but yet be such a wonderful and present mom and wife.”

Aside from being a good role model for her son, Bolten, who is a lead instructor for her unit’s postpartum and pregnancy physical training program, said she also wants to be a role model for Soldiers, especially those who are moms or soon to be moms.

“I want these Soldiers to see that there is so much more that they can do if they just put their mind to it and that being a parent doesn’t end your career. It’s just another motivation to try even harder,” Bolten said. “I am honored and proud that I can show other females that they too are capable of doing anything they put their mind to, even if it might seem challenging or even impossible.”

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Capt. Justine Bolten and her husband Capt. Adam Bolten run toward the finish line at the end of a 12-mile ruck march, May 26, during the 10th Mountain Division’s E3B at Fort Drum, New York. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Neysa Canfield, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs Office)