Military Members Will Start Receiving This Expanded Benefit—Here’s What We Know

A new federal memorandum will vastly improve the lives of military parents

On Jan. 4, 2023, the Department of Defense (DoD) released a directive memorandum stating that military members will now receive 12 weeks of parental leave, twice the amount previously offered.

Parents giving birth will also receive a “period of convalescence” to recover from their labor if it is meant to address a diagnosed medical condition, is recommended in writing by their doctor and approved by the unit commander. Read on to learn more about the Military Parental Leave Program and who exactly qualifies for it.

Who Qualifies for the Military Parental Leave Program?

The benefit is available to members of all military branches, including the Coast Guard, “when it is a Service of the Department of Homeland Security.” It’s also available to other organizational DoD members including those at the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Combatant Commands, the Office of the Inspector General, the Defense Agencies, and DoD Field Activities. Eligible service members must have been in active or reserve duty for at least 12 months.

Both birthing and non-birthing parents are eligible, including those who recently adopted children or used a surrogate during pregnancy. Foster parents may also receive the benefit when they first bring the child into their home but are not afforded any additional leave if they adopt the child. Similarly, military members who formally adopt a child that has already been living with them do not qualify for the benefit.

When Are Service Members Eligible?

The memorandum went into effect on Jan. 4, 2023, and new parents are eligible as of Dec. 27, 2022. The 12-week parental leave must be taken within the first year of the child’s birth or adoption. If the qualifying parent is deployed, they may be offered an extension. The memorandum will expire on Jan. 4, 2025, though may be incorporated into DoD issuance or reissued at that time.

How Can the Benefit Be Applied?

Qualifying parents can take all 12 weeks of leave at once or break it into increments of seven or more days. If during the leave time, the parent experiences multiple qualifying events, they can receive additional leave so long as there are at least 72 hours between qualifying events. To learn more about qualifying events, refer to Attachment 3, Section 2e.


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