Better balance

Pentagon unveils new “family friendly” policies, including extended maternity leave

U.S. Brigadier General Diana Holland (R) and Command Sergeant Major Dawn Ripplemeyer. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter announced on Thursday that the military would be extending maternity leave across the force, as well as expanding access to child care and expensive reproductive technologies. “We want our people to be able to balance two of the most solemn commitments they could ever make: a commitment to serve their country and a commitment to start and support a family,” said Carter.

As part of the measures, the Pentagon will now provide 12 continuous weeks of paid maternity leave for all uniformed service members, and paternity leave will increase from 10 to 14 days. Before the change, service members in the Army only received six weeks of maternity leave. The Pentagon will also install “mothers’ rooms” at military facilities across the country to be used by women for breastfeeding or pumping, and a new pilot program will allow some service members to freeze sperm and eggs for later use. Additional plans include expansion of access to reproductive technologies like IVF, and legal changes that would allow military personnel to put off moves to a new station — in order to allow a child to finish high school, for example — in exchange for longer service time.

The reforms, which are expected to cost the Pentagon $380 million over 5 years, are part of efforts to make the military a more family-friendly employer.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.


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