Force of the Future – Family Friendly
Helping service members balance the demands of military service and the commitments of family life is essential to recruiting and retaining a high-quality, ready force. Our Association has made this argument for years. Now it seems as though our voice and the voices of thousands of military families have finally been heard. On January 28, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced a series of initiatives aimed at strengthening comprehensive family benefits as part of his efforts to create the Force of the Future.
The new initiatives include:
- DoD-Wide Standard of 12 Weeks of Paid Maternity Leave – Across the Department of Defense (DoD), women service members will be entitled to 12 weeks of paid maternity leave.
- 14 Days of Paternity Leave – Current law allows for up to 10 days of paternity leave. DoD will pursue legislation to offer 14 days of paternity leave to new dads.
- Dual Service Adoption Leave – The law currently allows one parent in a dual-service couple to take up to three weeks of leave upon adopting a child. DoD plans to seek legislation that would allow the second parent to take up to two weeks of leave as well, allowing each parent the time to bond with the new child.
- Longer CDC Hours – Installation Child Development Centers (CDC) are critical to working parents, especially dual service members who work long hours. DoD will extend operating hours of CDCs to ensure hours of operation consistent with the work patterns of service members at a given installation.
- Mothers’ Rooms – DoD will set a Department-wide standard to establish or expand Mothers’ Rooms at facilities with more than 50 women. Mothers’ Rooms provide a designated clean and private space for nursing moms to use breastfeeding equipment and supplies to pump and store breast milk.
- Strategic Plan for Long-Term Childcare Needs – DoD will work with the Services to assess the long-term child care needs of service members and work to development Service-wide standards that increase access and usability of CDCs. The plan includes creating a standard CDC application, permitting service members to add children to CDC wait lists prior to a PCS move rather than waiting until they have arrived at their next duty station, and establishing parent-to-parent support and advisory networks.
- Delay PCS Orders for Family Reasons – DoD will seek legislation that would permit service members to postpone a PCS move under certain circumstances when it is in the best interest of the family. For example, if a service member has a high school senior orders could be delayed to allow the student to finish high school.
- Pilot Program for Cryopreservation – DoD plans to establish a pilot program through TRICARE to provide egg and sperm cryopreservation to active duty service members. One purpose of the pilot is to understand the costs and potential recruiting and retention benefits for providing this medical service.
The initiatives to modernize the future of the force adapt best practices from the public and private sectors to recruit and retain a talented work force. Military families – what do you think? With these changes, is your family more likely to remain in the military or recommend service to young adult?
Posted January 28, 2016