Military Announces Major Changes to Maternity Leave Policy

Meet the new, family-friendly armed services.
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In an effort to make military service more appealing, especially to millennials, Defense Secretary Ash Carter has announced major changes to family leave policies as part of the Pentagon's Force of the Future.

Notably, women in all lines of service will now be afforded 12 weeks of maternity leave. This is mostly good news, except for moms who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps; the old policy allowed 18 weeks of leave. But for Army and Air Force service members, their leave has doubled from six weeks.

"I concluded that 12 weeks of maternity leave across all the force establishes the right balance between offering a highly competitive leave policy while also maintaining the readiness of our total force," Carter commented.

"Twelve weeks is extremely generous ... it puts us in the very top tiers of American employers," Carter said, adding the impetus for the changes is that "Women at peak ages for starting a family leave the military at the highest rates."

Dads are also benefiting from the new family-friendly policies. Their paid paternity leave will only amount to two weeks, but this is four more days than what the former policy allowed.

Maternity leave guidelines differ from state to state, so it's important to know what applies to you.

Other changes to the military's policies include extending day care hours from 12 to 14, and requiring posts with 50 or more members to set aside rooms for new mothers' needs. Another impressive benefit: The military will cover the cost of freezing sperm or eggs for active-duty troops, according to USA Today.

It's good to see the military is aiming to make serving our country more family-friendly. After all, these are people who pledge to give their lives to defend us. They deserve at least this.

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.

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