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YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Sailors with children or considering having them should check their mail boxes toward the end of February.

Letters are going out to 50,000 sailors — 41,000 women and 9,000 men — inviting them to participate in the Navy’s biennial online pregnancy and parenthood survey. Results of the survey will be used to assess policies and “detect trends, patterns and anomalies,” Lt. Hope Brill of the Office of Women’s Policy said in an e-mail to Stars and Stripes.

Topics covered will include family care plans, effects of individual augmentee assignments, single parenthood, sexual health training, family planning, birth control and pregnancy, she said.

According to Cmdr. Kirk Gasper, a family physician at Yokosuka Naval Hospital, it is all part of an effort to help create more “patient-friendly” conditions for “fitting military duty into a pregnancy.”

Gasper said the Navy is acknowledging the disruption caused by separating a parent from a newborn and is exploring ways to strike a balance between the needs of the Navy and servicemembers.

Among ideas being considered are extending maternity convalescent leaves and removing a requirement to complete a physical fitness assessment within six months of returning from convalescent leave, Brill said.

Letters inviting participation will contain passwords and instructions on how to access the Web-based survey. Female sailors who have not received an invitation by the end of February should contact Zannette Uriell, the survey’s project director, at zannette.uriell@navy.mil.

Active-duty men will be selected at random for invitations.

While usernames will be required to log into the survey, all identifying information will be deleted from the data to maintain the respondents’ anonymity, the Navy said.


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