ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Many Reservists have had the experience of working with active duty Airmen during their careers but few lead Air Force-level teams.
Maj. Alea Nadeem serves as a team chief for the Air Force Women’s Initiative.
“The Air Force Women’s Initiative Team works to remove barriers through policy for Airmen so they can continue to serve successfully and use common sense approaches to outdated policies,” Nadeem said.
In 2015, while on active duty Nadeem began working on Women's Initiative Team to help develop a women’s health transition assistance program between the Air Force and the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2017, she was asked to lead the team.
“I am the only Reservist who has ever lead the team, but we do have Reserve members part of the team,” she said. “I can honestly say being a member of the WIT and leading this team has been the most rewarding endeavor I've had in the Air Force.”
As team chief, Nadeem leads a team of more than 400 active duty, Reserve, guard, and civilians on her team.
Her team has worked to improve the lives of Airmen and their families by working with Air Force leaders to make policy changes. Changes such as the Air Force’s lactation policy for nursing mothers, making sure Airmen know about their VA benefits as they transition to civilian life, allowing pregnant Airmen to attend any professional military education without having to apply to for an exception to policy.
“We’ve changed policy to allow women to choose if they want to continue to fly while pregnant, we've removed height waivers for aviators and enlisted aircrew because we found going through the accessions process Airmen would hear 'waiver' and not even apply,” she said. “Now candidates are 'further assessed' versus the term 'waiver'.”
Nadeem notes that the members of her team are volunteers and they focus on making tangible changes for the betterment of all Airmen to create a more diverse and inclusive Air Force.
One of the team’s new initiatives is helping Airmen with fertility issues.
“Between 2013 to 2018, 8,744 servicewomen were diagnosed with infertility for the first time,” she said. “Those in healthcare and pilot/air crew occupations, and those who were married had the highest incidence rates. Military women are three times more likely to suffer infertility than civilians.”
The team is working with AFWERX to spread awareness of free fertility test kits available to Airmen.
Maj. Sara Greco, AFWERX Communications Manager, says AFWERX support all Airmen being innovative and discovering paths to solutions to help future generations of Airmen.
“Any Airman who has identified a clear problem and determined that partnering with a company will support their next steps are welcome to use SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) as a pathway to achieving their goals, like Maj. Nadeem did to collaborate with Proov.”
Proov is the company providing the fertility test kits.
Our goal is to educate Airmen struggling to conceive or considering having a child that a test kit can vector them to issues before more invasive procedures are needed,” Nadeem said. “For example, a certain medication may help a couple conceive versus IVF treatment and these test kits help determine if there are hormonal imbalances that can be fixed addressed.”