All female service members will be granted 12 weeks of maternity leave and the DOD will cover the costs of freezing sperm or eggs for active duty personnel, among other reforms.
WASHINGTON (Talk Media News) – Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday that all female service members will be granted 12 weeks of maternity leave, as part an effort to make military careers more appealing to millennials.
Carter said that he is also working to seek authorities to increase paid paternity leave for new fathers from 10 to 14 days, which they could use in addition to annual leave.
This comes as part of Carter’s Force of the Future initiative, an ongoing effort to adapt the all volunteer U.S. military to current American lifestyles.
“We want our people to be able to balance two of the most solemn commitments they can ever make — a commitment to serve their country and the commitment to start and support a family,” Carter said from the Pentagon, including that more families of today see both parents working.
The Department of Defense will also increase childcare access for service members, and cover the costs of freezing sperm or eggs for active duty personnel in a pilot program — providing “greater peace of mind” and career flexibility, Carter said.
In addition, to support breastfeeding new mothers, all military facilities with more than 50 female personnel will have mothers rooms installed.
Also, service members who wish to stay at the station of their choice will be able to in exchange for an additional active duty service obligation. Carter said the additional service obligation will be determined at the discretion of the commander and will “depend on the circumstance.” He said that the Department is working on guidelines now.
Carter’s maternity leave announcement means that all services will have the same number of weeks for maternity leave, reducing the leave for the Navy and Marine Corps from 18 weeks and boosting that for the Army and Air Force from six weeks. Service members already serving in the Navy and Marines will be grandfathered into the past standard.
These reforms, Carter said, are intended to “increase retention while preserving readiness.”
In December, Carter announced all combat units would open to women this year, and the year before he expressed his intention to rescind the Pentagon’s ban on transgender troops serving openly.