WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James declared her support of department-wide reforms focused on improving quality of life for military parents, following Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s Jan. 28 announcement on the next round of Force of the Future initiatives.
“I applaud Secretary Carter and welcome these announcements as a positive step forward for our Airmen and their families,” James said.
James has been vocal about her support for extending maternity leave, and the importance of a comprehensive update to the Air Force’s current policy, including paternity leave reform as well.
“This change places our Air Force in the top tier of organizations that offer 12 weeks maternity leave to new mothers,” James said. “The department will also be introducing legislation to increase paternity leave to 14 days across the total force.”
The maternity benefit will be offered to the over 200,000 women in uniform today, who comprise 14.8 percent of enlisted personnel and 17.4 percent of the officer corps in the Defense Department.
Also included in the comprehensive package of family benefits are the following: expansion of adoption leave; extending childhood development center hours to a 14-hour minimum; modifying or installing mother rooms at each instillation; an examination of additional options for child care; allowing service members to postpone a permanent change of station in certain instances where it is in the best interests of the family; and covering the cost of egg and sperm cryopreservation for active-duty service members.
“This is the right thing to do,” James said. “This groundbreaking policy carefully balances our priority focus on mission effectiveness with ongoing efforts to attract and retain talent in a changing workforce.”
James said more details, including effective dates, will be made available as the services begin planning for implementation.