Sound Off: Do Civilians Need to Just Grow Up About Military Breastfeeding?



Air Force veteran and professional photographer Tara Ruby heard about a new nursing room at Fort Bliss and offered to donate photographs to decorate the space with portraits of uniformed soldiers breastfeeding their children.

In a post at CNN,  Ruby said, “I thought it was be nice to offer some photographs as an additional show of support. Seeing a picture like that helps mothers understand they can be an active soldier and provide support to their children.”

She got all the necessary approvals from the brass, put out the word and ten women showed up with their babies for last Thursday’s photo shoot. She was excited by the results and posted the above photo to her business Facebook page on Thursday night. By Friday morning, it had disappeared from her page and from the page of everyone who shared it. Ruby reposted the image and it had been shared over 4,000 times.

Of course, a few civilians freaked out and complained about the “professionalism” of women soldiers who would participate in the photo shoot and act like nursing a child is a normal, non-sexual activity.

Ruby insists that the Army’s support for nursing mothers is just good policy. “Practically speaking, it’s a matter of retention,” she said: “Mothers need support so they don’t have to choose between family and service.”

Bill Costlow, the Chief of Garrison7 Community Engagement for the Army Installation Management Command, tells that the photo shoot is a “big deal internally.” He added, “This would normally be thought of as a uniform discrepancy. But here we have mothers being allowed to breast feed in uniform. There’s so many things that you’re not allowed to do in uniform … and you’ve got to figure that the average military person or retiree, that they all grew up with those things.”

Give us your thoughts. Is there even anything to discuss here? Is the photo just another reflection of normal life in our all-volunteer military? Or is there something about women soldiers breastfeeding their babies that makes anyone around here uncomfortable? Sound off!

  • conradswims

    Send this photo and story to our enemy. They could use a good laugh!

    • 11CP5

      And laugh they would.

  • Guest

    Depends where the activity is taking place. If feeding in a private, enclosed location while in uniform out of necessity, fine, but in a “public” area, not fine. Otherwise change into civilian clothing.

    • Gardnera

      I am extremwly pro breastfeeding….however, in uniformis a different story. Only because I cant think of an appropriate place… Maybe feeding on a lunch break at the CDC, but any random public place, no. Shouldnt be running errands or anything in uniform…

      • Steve

        Should feed where they want to and when they can when its appropriate from their COC. Again so what they’re in uniform. It does not make them less human than you…

  • ColdWarVet75

    I you want to be a soldier. Be a soldier. If you want to be a mommy….stay out of the military and demanding special treatment.

    • 357fixer

      Two of the best bosses I had were both female, and both had kids. It’s hardly “special” treatment to accommodate a biological need. Grow up.

      • Bongi

        I agree. Biological needs should occur whenever, wherever, however and by whomever.

    • Motive25

      How about being a daddy?

  • PhilC

    Remember the days when you couldn’t even stop at the 7-11 if you wore fatigues or BDUs? A kid has to eat, but this photo sends the wrong message. It’s not as if we have women in uniform running all over our bases and posts breast feeding their child, but that’s exactly what this photo implies. Notice I never said breast feeding in public was wrong? Or a single BDU’d mom sitting down at the BX and quietly taking care of business? I don’t think this photo appropriately shows military life.

    • Joan

      PhilC, those are old, outdated standards. This is the new military and by goodness, we’ll be better for it!

  • PhilC

    However, I think the real concern is that FB removed the photo. Why? FB is so anal over breasts even though there is not a single one to be seen. A whole lot of implied breasts are in the photo, but not a single one visible. Maybe FB should simply delete any photo of any male or female if it shows anything clothed or not from the neck down.

  • 11CP5

    Times sure have changed. Hope our country can survive our new style of military. Does breastfeeding keep one from being deployed? I have know women who breast feed their kids until they were 1 1/2 years old. Too old to care anymore. It will be what it will be.

    • Mary

      LOL…until 1 1/2 years old. That is OLD thinking. You better believe many will use this to get out of deployments. It may go until the child is 16!

  • Dale T. Guilfoyle

    This is a disgrace! I am embarrassed for the Senior Leadership of the Army! Makes me wish I had joined the Marines!

  • Ginger Lynn

    Guess this needy photographer needed some publicity at the expense of our military. Very unprofessional. Shame on her.

  • Wayne Perry

    The photo was taken to boost morale. It is to be placed in the restroom of a new nursing room at Ft Bliss. It is an attempt to crush the stigma many female servkce members feel. It is to encourage and empower them, mostly in that small quiet room where this photo will hang to welcome fellow soldiers.

    Now heres my real issue…… it isnt civilians complaining the most or loudest, it is the military community. And this spin to blame civilians, well it is ludicrous.

    • Brendy

      Wayne, thanks for pointing out your real issue. My real issue is why the heck do we need to pretty up a nursing room? Aren’t these fine soldiers going into combat zones soon? I guess they’ll be taking the children along but I’m not sure about mobile, tactical nursing rooms have been built yet.

  • mike badyna

    Why is this even news, Women have been breastfeeding for ever. Now do these women take their babies to work? If not what is the big deal. If they do , we have a whole other situation going on.

  • bigfatduke

    Not appropriate, breast feeding should be done in private.

  • Donna Bella Deapera

    it is okay.. but you must bring alternative milk to feed in public… against sex maniac

  • Leon Suchorski

    Mother’s milk is so much better for the child, and it comes in such cute containers.

  • George

    There’s a time and a place for everything they just need to be discreet about it and professional!

  • raybdavisjr

    Breastfeeding is the way God made it, so I am not going to argue with God. Next a mother/soldier is raising the next generation of Citizens and perhaps soldiers. Those little babies are our next Marine, Sailor, Airman, soldier, or Guardsman; Our mothers deserve applause for their care and devotion to the littlest Citizens. I appreciate Our Government helping mothers do this.

    • Alcie

      God made a lot of things but didn’t God also set some rules?

  • Sal Pianchie

    Another path we have to go down to quiet the people that think that Military life is like the civilian world. It’s those nit wits as well as the sheep in VA and DC that have brought this type of discussion about. Hopefully our next (over due) leader will replace the “leaders” presently leading the parade, as fast as humanly possible? I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, all of the present Military leaders seem to want to advance themselves as opposed to shaping the Military to do what has to be done from time to time! They appear to have become politicians in lieu of Military leaders.

  • rex

    tell the civilians to grow up and toughen up! the world doesn’t spin around them! they want to take down everything, I mean everything, that offends them. weak-minded!

  • ding

    Does anyone remember when the military was in the warfighting business?

    • Jones

      LOL…these sure look like some warfighters!

      • ding

        All fat and outta standards even army ones, we need to go back to mandatory ADSEPs for pregnancies

  • Mel

    Some people think breastfeeding in uniform is unprofessional, but what about a service member with a mouthful of chew or dip while in uniform. I’ve seen service members spitting into bottles or on the ground while in uniform, that is unprofessional and disrespectful of the uniform. But here we have mothers providing nutrition to their babies and some of you think that is wrong. Just remember that we all were born into this world by a women and you may have been breastfeed as a baby. So don’t go and judge these women or this policy because you don’t think it’s right. There are plenty of other issues to worry about.

    • Fwlkj

      Mel, you are absolutely correct. There are many natural functions of the human body and no one should judge anyone for anything.

  • Michelle

    I think that the photo is a good reminder that women are trying to do their job and be a mother, and there is no shame in that. I think that, both in uniform and out, that mothers should not try to call attention to the fact that they are breast feeding, but they also should not be ashamed to do so. Whether you feed with the bottle or the breast, every woman has the right to feed their child the way they see best. As to people who at uncomfortable around it, that is your problem, not the mother’s problem. There needs to be decorum and professionalism, but that goes for both the women breast feeding and the people who do not want to see a woman breast feeding.

  • JohnW

    Ms. Ruby, what exactly is your definition of “active soldier”? I hope these fine soldiers won’t be trying to breastfeed in those new combat roles in a war zone.

  • Sqwerty

    I’m wondering why the photographer that offered to donate pictures of nursing moms to decorate the nursing room … felt the need to post one of them on Facebook. Has she no sense or was she trying to get some publicity off the backs (or breasts) of military nursing moms?

  • pillgrim

    What is next, allowing them to work and deploy from home while they are breast feeding a child? The Military has lost it’s compass and vision of the mission, that it to break things and kill the enemy as necessary, not cuddle up to every new socially acceptable nuance that comes along next. Did 30 years, but couldn’t do a day in todays commitment to political correctness and “check my feelings” first environment.

  • USMC_grunt

    Wow, does nobody read articles properly before passing judgment, anymore. The photographer went through the proper channels to take the picture to begin with. It’s not like these moms do this every day. They did it as a symbol to show “we are military, we are moms, and we handle our business with pride” common people this is a symbolic photo not meant to create changes. This is coming from a marine that went up for meritorious mast a few times, I have the rules and regulations imbedded in my soul and I have no problem with this photo. What this tells me is that even good moms can defend our country!!!!!

  • Art Mc Donald

    If you ask any health professional they will tell you it is healthier for the infant and better for the mother as well. Alot of you need to get your heads out of your rectums and grow up. This is not going to be happening in combat or ops. From a Navy vet.