Posted on Apr 18, 2019
SPC Healthcare Specialist (Combat Medic)
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I am a female in the army current on rotation over seas. I was just told by my team leader that my platoon Sgt (female) told him that I need to start wearing a bra while off duty. in the clothes that I wear, you can't see my nipple or even the color of my nipple nor do I wear revealing or low cut shirts. At the most, you can just see that I am simply not wearing one. Nowhere in any reg does it say it’s required not even in uniform. Can she tell me to do so?
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MSG Senior Drill Sergeant
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SPC (Join to see), it's completely subjective and interpretive really. AR 670-1, paragraph 3-9 outlines the rules for wearing civilian clothing. Whether we like it or not, the Army does regulate what we can wear off duty outside of our home. However, it uses statements such as "subject to local regulations" and "will present a professional image". Those are interpretive statements and are difficult to disagree with. We, as RP members, don't know the local policies for your duty station. Your chain of command does.

RP isn't the place to get an answer on this topic. You'll just get opinions that are irrelevant to your chain of command. You really only have two options:

1. Comply and accept that it's a priority for this particular PSG. Ultimately, this will save you a lot of grief for your remaining time in that unit.

2. Continue to disagree and have a professional discussion with your PSG about your concerns. If you feel that your PSG is being completely unreasonable then you're always able to use the open door policy for your 1SG.

With that said, I highly suggest keeping this issue at the lowest level possible. You must weigh the pro's and con's of this fight. Is it really worth the effort? These are only questions you can answer.

Best of luck.
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SFC Ernest Thurston
SFC Ernest Thurston
12 d
Just one comment. The original question stated that the PSG was a female and the PSG told the Team Leader to tell the soldier to wear a bra. This is not a women's lib argument or discussion. It's not an overbearing male PSG picking on the poor oppressed female. On another note. You are a soldier 24/7 365 and represent your service/country all the time. This what you signed up for like it or not.
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SSG Jeff Dancinger
SSG Jeff Dancinger
12 d
During my time in the Kansas Army National Guard, I had a little more respect for my Superiors. Something in the military has gone off the rails in the last few years.
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SSG Dale London
SSG Dale London
11 d
SGT Russell Chewning - I disagree with your premise. Off-time is a privilege not a right and your appearance needs to fall in line with the directives of your commanding officer. The UCMJ does not come with a time-clock attached. You do not "clock-in" and "clock-out" the way you did on civvie street.
The mere fact that you can be called to duty at any time of the day or night, that you have to have a permission slip (called a DA form 31) just to go visit your parents, and that if your CO deems it neccessary you can be forced to live in barracks even if you are married should all be clues that, while you are in active service, the army DOES in fact own you.
If you want to test this theory, just insist on going to the NCO club on Friday nights wearing nothing but a mankini (have somebody there with a video camera though... the results on youtube would be hilarious).
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SPC James Willbanks
SPC James Willbanks
10 d
“Go around your PSG to your 1SG?” There was no such thing in my day. lol
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LtCol Robert Quinter
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The only conceivable reason I could come up with is the fact that you are US military in a foreign country and your platoon sgt feels your lack of a bra could be offensive to the locals. In any event, you deserve more information from your platoon sergeant directly without putting your team leader in what could be an awkward situation.
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SGT Russell Chewning
SGT Russell Chewning
12 d
LtCol Quinter, thanks for being an example of a professional officer, with some nuanced views of the world. It's actually quite embarassing to see so many leaders on here autmatically jumping on "It's the ARMY way, or the HIGHWAY!", and similar type indoctrination-leaning views. All across American society, men have been a little too comfortable telling women how to behave. And to see either former or current officers whole heartedly supporting this PSG's behavior is just plain embarassing to me as a former soldier.
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MSgt Kerry Lundy
MSgt Kerry Lundy
11 d
Excellent advise LtCol Quinter. I read all the replies posted yours as Sgt Chewning pointed out is the best, If she follows it her tour will be a lot easier and she can be assured it will pass by quickly and she can get on with her career. Not knowing where she is located I would also advise her to learn the customs and courtesies of the locale she is in.
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CPL John Day
CPL John Day
11 d
Did you die?
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LtCol Robert Quinter
LtCol Robert Quinter
10 d
CPL John Day - If I did, they haven't told me yet
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SSG(P) James J. Palmer IV aka "JP4"
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Edited 6 mo ago
As a former PSG. Straight up. I wouldn’t do it nor would I direct one of my team leaders to give such an awkward directive. Especially if just for the sake of saying that without giving further serious clarification. I am of the opinion that is way inappropriate for me as male to tell you something like that. Especially giving the facts of what you just stated and taking them at face value.

Having said that.......

I would ask my SQD/Team leaders if this is causing a legitimate widespread issue to unit cohesion and morale. If the answer is yes, then that is a seperate matter. If the answer is no, but just a personal gripe that they don't like, my answer to my SQD/Team leaders would be to leave her alone. We shouldn't be making on the spot corrections based upon our personal preferences. That isn't how that should work.

JP
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SSG J F Texas
SSG J F Texas
3 mo
I agree more clarification is needed but from the Specialist. Where she is stationed is irrelevant. On and off duty she represents the Army and the United States in her actions and appearance. This is not a 9 to 5. You are a soldier 24/7/365 until your comment expires. Her claim that no one can tell she isn't wearing a bra doesn't hold water with me since her PSG is making the correction.
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CPT Canon To The Ordinary
CPT (Join to see)
3 mo
Were I the commanding officer, I would shut that down before it created a problem. I would also do any counselling in the presence of the soldier's command team, commissioned and non-commissioned.
I would then walk back to my quarters and pack my D-bags for the trip into retirement.
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SGT Russell Chewning
SGT Russell Chewning
12 d
CPT (Join to see) - Probably best for all concerned for officers crossing the line in this way to retire. I sure as heck don't see you counseling male soldiers for wearing a t-shirt on a very cold day, and showing nips. It is inappropriate enough for the PSG to say this to a female soldier who is off duty in the first place, but having the COMMAND back them up? Completely inappropriate. It's not like she is wearing 20 gauge nipple rings that you can see through the shirt.

If your male soldiers can't keep from getting a hardon when they see a woman's nipples through a shirt, how are they supposed to ever function outside of the post?? And just WHAT disturbance to unit cohesion and whatever other assorted BS trope you wanna throw in, is this soldier's nipples causing when she is OFF DUTY?????

What? Are the male soldiers.... Gonna be tempted to rape? Utterly ridiculous. Seems to me if a female soldier showing a little nip when OFF DUTY is a major issue to your unit, you have utterly and completely failed as a leader, long before this came up.

Please, please, please. I want you to explain exactly what "problem" you think this would cause, that you have to "shut it down", before it does so. You seem to have so little faith in your male soldiers.
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SGT Russell Chewning
SGT Russell Chewning
9 d
2LT (Join to see) Thanks for presenting this in a professional manner. Personally, as an NCO, I think this is about pure professionalism, regulations aside. A lot of answers on here going down the "PSG was fully within regs. I suggest you soldier up and drive on.." route, but to me, this is about intentionally separating out the sexes for different treatment. As I said in other responses, no one ever counsels a male soldier for visible nipples, in or out of uniform, on a cold day. No one ever counsels a male soldier for wearing jeans a tad too tight, and "revealing", if you catch my drift. A lot of old-schoolers in here, but generally, those on active duty, and actually in leadership positions, say they would not have approached a subordinate with this concern, as... It wouldn't be a concern.

I think too often, we make the mistake of assuming a leader actually always thinks about stuff like this before they hand down an order. They don't. I've seen many leaders in the Army who seemed to be on auto-pilot. Or, just drunk on authority. A lot of folks on here bemoaning the state of the Army, when this is even a topic of discussion. Yet, as I said before.. A Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was caught covering up for a general friend who was harassing, and involved in inappropriate sexual relations. The military has a problem from the top on down. Any conversation that discusses the treatment of women as pure sexual objects, is worthy. And, outside of the middle east and others areas of the world where women are literally seen as property, this is simply inappropriate.

I was the type of soldier to simply not tolerate mistreatment at the hands of an authority figure. The PSG I gave an honest assessment to, ended up recommending me for promotion., And I made E-5 shortly after. I just don't buy into the unquestioning following of orders in a situation where I passionately believe the leader is in the wrong. When I gave that PSG a blunt summary of his failings as a leader, I was one on one with him, and asked permission first to speak freely. If he didn't want to hear it, he had every right to say "No", lock me up at parade rest, and I would have assumed the position.

And I VERY passionately believe this PSG was in the wrong, and that there are ways of informing her of such, without putting herself in a bind. That often depends on how much of a "star soldier" one is, and whether you are the type of soldier the command would realistically want to make an example of. Punishing a high performer who is taking a stand against an unfair and discriminatory policy is a great way to demotivate a bunch of soldiers at once. I was a high performer, in a technical MOS, and I knew it. Sometimes that counts for quite a bit.
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