DOD releases memo expanding Military Parental Leave Program

Capt. Jeremy Brenneman, 99th Medical Group physician, is welcomed home from deployment in Southwest Asia by his family on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, Oct. 18, 2021. The unit deployed to support Operation Allies Refuge. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman
Bailee A. Darbasie)

The Defense Department has released guidelines for the expansion of the military parental leave policy.

The memo is signed by Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

The memo applies to all service members and is effective as of Jan. 4. The memo provides details on transition to the new expanded parental leave for Service members who were on leave under the old military parental leave program as of Dec. 27, 2022, and had not used all of their maternity convalescent leave or their caregiver leave. *(see Editor’s Note)

“It is important for the development of military families that members be able to care for their newborn, adopted or placed child or children,” Cisneros says in the memo.

The memo further says that commanders must balance the needs of their units versus the needs of service members to use parental leave.

Col. Eli Lozano, Medical Department Activity – Alaska commander, delivers a Mother’s Meal to Hannah Lombardi, wife of Staff Sgt. Thomas Lombardi, E Troop, 5-1 CAV, after the birth of their daughter, Paisley. Mother’s Meals are a service provided by the Bassett Army Community Hospital Nutrition Care Division for mothers as the first meal after giving birth. The free meal offers entrée choices such as grilled steak, herbed chicken or cheese manicotti and a wide variety of sides and desserts

The memo specifically says that service members who give birth “will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following a period of convalescence to care for the child.” Service members who are the non-birth parent will also be authorized 12 weeks of leave to care for the child.

The memo explains that convalescent leave may be authorized for the recovery of the mother from giving birth if a doctor recommends it to address a specific medical condition and it is approved by the unit commander.

Service members who adopt a child or who have longterm foster care children placed with them will also be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave to care for the child. 

Hudson arrived at 7:48 p.m. on Jan. 1 weighing 8lbs 6 ounces and 21 inches tall. Hudson is the second boy to Capt. Victoria McMullan and Capt. Ryan McMullan.

Members who were on maternity convalescent leave or who had unused caregiver leave when the new policy went into effect will transition to the new policy without any loss of benefit and will receive the expanded benefit.

The twelve weeks of parental leave may be taken in the first year of the child’s life. “Parental leave may not be transferred to create a shared benefit, even between members of a dual military couple,” according to the memo. 

“Members will be afforded the opportunity to take full advantage of the Military Parental Leave Program consistent with their desires [and the] operational requirements and training workloads of their unit,” Cisneros wrote. 

*Editor’s Note: An additional sentence has been added to provide context and clarity.