Yesterday, Representatives Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) and Jackie Speier (D-CA), Chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, alongside U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), led a bipartisan and bicameral letter to the Department of Defense (DoD). Their effort urges DoD leadership to provide military moms with convalescent leave separately and apart from their guaranteed 12 weeks of parental leave, as Congress intended.
The provision of 12 weeks of paid parental leave for all new parents was authorized by a version of Houlahan’s Military Moms Matter Act, which was included in the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). A core component of Houlahan’s bill specifically separated the 12 weeks of parental leave provided to all new parents from any convalescent leave provided to birth mothers for their physical recovery.
“We want to ensure that the Department’s implementation of this provision will maintain the historical separation of medical convalescent leave from parental leave (previously known as caregiver leave). Our military must support our servicemembers who are building a family – it is a matter of military readiness and national security,” wrote the Members. “Any attempt to overlap parental leave and convalescent leave would be contrary to congressional intent and would lead to additional congressional action if the Department is unwilling to implement this policy properly.”
A 2020 Government Accountability Office report found that women are nearly 30% more likely to leave the military than men due to a variety of challenges — one of those being the wide range of issues impacting military families such as the availability of childcare and lengthy deployments away from their families.
Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Representatives Sara Jacobs (D-CA) and Stephanie Bice (R-OK) also signed the letter.
The full text of the Members’ letter can be found here