Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander, poses with Spc. Kelley Steiner, a military police specialist with the 17th Military Police Detachment, at the NCO Club on Fort Jackson April 28. Steiner, who is on her second pregnancy was an administrator of a social media group characterized as part of the ‘grassroots’ campaign that affected changes to the Army’s Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum program. (Photo by Capt. Meredith Piro)

Updated policy increases Soldier retention

By Robert Timmons, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

For one pregnant Fort Jackson Soldier who last year weighed “heavily on getting out” of the Army, the changes in the Army Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum directive made her “100% more confident” to stay in the service.

Spc. Kelley Steiner, a military police specialist on her second pregnancy, not only benefits from the new program, but was instrumental in changing Army policy by bringing attention to the plight of expecting parents during a part-time gig as a social media administrator.

Steiner, who serves in the 17th Military Police Detachment, was part of what an Army press release described as a “grassroots effort by Soldiers to identify issues facing pregnant and postpartum Soldiers.”

Members of Steiner’s social media group discussed the former policy and prospective changes the service would ultimately include in the updated program.

“Through a series of grassroots campaigns that have happened across the Army over the course of the past two years, we realized that if we’re really going to put People First, we have got to put our policy where our mouth is,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick R. Michaelis, Fort Jackson commander.

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth formalized the policy by signing a directive April 21 aimed at “improving opportunities for Soldiers to advance their careers while providing the time and flexibility needed to care for growing families.”

The directive compiled 12 different components that “have been put in play across 20 different regulations,” into one document, Michaelis said.

“This directive that came out a few days ago is really a long term investment in the readiness of our parent, by promoting Soldier wellness, during pregnancy,” Michaelis said. “It recognizes that we as leaders are actually listening to the concerns of our Soldiers and their Families.”

Steiner faced postpartum pregnancy issues under the previous policy that made it difficult for her to return to Army prescribed physical criteria. Under the previous rules, she had 180 days from the day she gave birth to the time she would get back into height and weight standards.

“I want to say that I gained maybe 25 pounds …” she said. “I was retaining weight and I just couldn’t lose it.” She was taking two to three fat burners a day, not eating and working out twice a day but was unable to shed the weight.

This was making her go “downhill very fast.” Fortunately, her fears were allayed in May 2021 when the Army announced it was allowing a 365-day deferment of height and weight standards after a pregnancy.

“I cried the day I found out that I did not no longer have to stress myself out,” she added.

Steiner, who said she focused on changes to Family Care Plans said under the new “directive we were able to really define what we needed to set in place, so parents can take care of their kids or take care of their Family members and not be penalized …” Family Care Plans previously did not have any real direction, she said.

FCPs spell out how members of a family are taken care of if a Soldier has to deploy or go somewhere.

“We are putting the care of the Family above the training,” Michaelis said. It has a small impact on the Army’s readiness, but “a greater impact on the quality of life of our Soldiers and their Families, which allows us to retain them and (lets them) know the Army cares about them.”

According to the press release, the directive contains 12 components. Six of them are entirely new – five of which were suggested from Soldier feedback – and the other six are updates to existing policies. Although four components were required by Congress, the Army expanded on the initial requirements to improve the health and quality of life for all parents.

Army Directive 2022-06 (Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum) can be found at Army Publishing Directorate at: