WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary Ray Mabus triples maternity leave: 18 weeks for women in the Navy and Marine Corps. July 2, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that effective immediately, women who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps will have 18 weeks of maternity leave available to use during the first year of her child's life. "In the Navy and the Marine Corps, we are continually looking for ways to recruit and retain the best people," Mabus said. "We have incredibly talented women who want to serve, and they also want to be mothers and have the time to fulfill that important role the right way. We can do that for them. Meaningful maternity leave when it matters most is one of the best ways that we can support the women who serve our county. This flexibility is an investment in our people and our Services, and a safeguard against losing skilled service members." Department of Defense Instruction 1327.06, Leave and Liberty Procedures for the Department, charges Secretaries of the Military Departments with publishing departmental guidance in accordance with the DoD instruction. Under the section that delegates to the Secretary the ability to designate the level of control for convalescent leave that exceeds 30 days, Secretary Mabus has directed that commanding officers grant additional convalescent leave up to 84 days beyond the currently authorized 42 days of convalescent leave following the birth of a child. For families, increased time following the birth of her child has tangible benefits for the physical and psychological health of both mother and child. For the Navy and Marine Corps, there is the likelihood that women will return to and stay in her career, yielding higher readiness and retention for the services. "When the women in our Navy and Marine Corps answer the call to serve, they are making the difficult choice to be away from their children - sometimes for prolonged periods of time - so that they can do the demanding jobs that we ask them to do." Mabus said. "With increased maternity leave, we can demonstrate the commitment of the Navy and Marine Corps to the women who are committed to serve." The policy, which is effective immediately, will also apply retroactively to any woman who has been authorized convalescent leave following the birth of a child since Jan. 1, 2015. Under the new policy, commanding officers are required to grant to a woman up to a total of 18 weeks, using a combination of maternity leave and convalescent leave beyond 30 days. A mother does not need to take all of her leave at once; however, she is only entitled to the use of this type of leave within one year of her child's birth. The Department of the Navy's increase in maternity leave is the latest in a series of personnel initiatives announced by the Secretary of the Navy.
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