Early this year, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced big improvements to the maternity leave policy for women in the military, namely that it would offer 12 weeks to women in all lines of service. But what about the dads?
Well, a new bill being introduced by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) addresses the need for better paternity leave policies for men who serve our country. It also seeks to improve leave for adoptive parents.
"Our military readiness also depends on the strong and resilient families that make up its backbone—families that deserve a 21st century parental leave policy that allows them the time they need to bond with their new children," she said in a statement.
Duckworth wants all parents to get 12 weeks of leave whether it's for a birth or adoption. Meanwhile, according to The Hill, Carter is seeking to increase paternity leave from 10 days to 14, and to allow a second parent two weeks of adoptive leave in addition to the three weeks one parent is currently allowed.
In response, Duckworth said, "I applaud Defense Secretary Ash Carter's recognition that a modern military demands a modern benefits package to continue recruiting and retaining the world's finest troops, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to help our Armed Forces better compete for talent. I hope Congress will step up and pass my Military Parental Leave Modernization Act to secure the rights and protections that all new parents, both in and out of uniform, deserve—doing so will only make our military stronger and more competitive."
My take: Because service members make such huge sacrifices for our country, and especially since families are often separated for extended periods of time when one parent is deployed (something I can't imagine having to cope with), any special memories and bonding time these families can be afforded is well worth fighting for.
Changes to the existing leave policy now await Congressional approval.
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.