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4 women share the impact of changes to military uniform regulations

According to women who are currently serving, the changes are more than just cosmetic.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Three years ago, the United States Army and other branches of the military changed their regulations on women's appearances, allowing a wider range of hair styles, nail colors and tattoo placements.

Now, female personnel in Iowa are sharing how grateful they are to be able to show more individuality while in uniform.

Chief Master Sergeant Kim Kaiser enlisted into the Iowa National Guard in 1987. She remembers how difficult it was for her to meet hair regulations  before the recent policy changes.

"When I first enlisted, it was basically you either had short hair or you somehow put your hair up...," Kaiser said. "I used to get headaches, I used to lose clumps of hair. and so I had to end up going back to short hair, which I did not want to really do, but I had to do it for my emotional state, and then also physically."

Kaiser wasn't alone, as E6 Staff Sergeant Chelsie Roberts shared how the old rules took a physical strain on her.

"There's tons of damage to it. And not only just to my hair, but to my scalp as well," Roberts said. "We do have to pull our hair back pretty tightly to get into the tight bun. And I've actually had bumps on the back of my neck."

Staff Sergeant Reda Chester explained how the former regulations didn't suit her hair as a person of color. Now, under the new regulations, she's starting to see some healing. 

"I plan on putting twists in my hair, where I can also just pull those up into a ponytail and still be in regulation, but I can wear that protective style still to protect my hair," Chester said. "It has grown a lot since having this change."

Private First Class Alicia Ganuza has only been serving for a year and six months. Prior to her enlistment, she wasn't aware of the uniform regulations.

She shared she has peace of mind knowing she's entering the field with options

"We have female soldiers that have those bad days where we feel like we're not pretty enough and being able to just have that choice to wear a ponytail, wear makeup - it just feels [like] they're thinking of us and not leaving us behind," Ganuza said. 

All four women said regardless of whether the regulations are strict or more fluid, they are proud to sacrifice anything in order to serve their country. 

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