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Big DoD Changes Could Be Coming for Families

When Secretary of Defense Ash Carter took over the Defense Department early this year, he said he wanted to take a hard look at military personnel issues. Several months of reviews later, and a huge set of proposals was placed on his desk tackling everything from how service members get selected for jobs within the military to how the military helps ensure service members who are also parents can both perform their jobs and have a family.

Unlike many other military family related policy and proposals, the ideas included on Carter’s agenda, known as the “Force of the Future” plan, aren’t aimed at military spouses or their kids – although they do impact them. Instead they are laser focused at making sure service members who are parents are taken care of from a personnel perspective.

The Force of the Future plan is being released in stages. While some of it, like these details, are widely available, other parts were obtained by the Army Times, including much of the below.

So what is included? Families in Force of the Future:

Better support for new military moms. The Navy and Marine Corps recently expanded its maternity leave policy, and the Air Force is planning to follow in its steps, giving new military birth moms up to 18 weeks of paid maternity leave over the course of the baby’s first year. The Force of the Future plan would look to bring the Army into line with those policies while expanding them to keep new moms non-deployable for one year after giving birth or adopting.

But that’s not it, the plan also looks to establish better breastfeeding support policies for all soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines , the Army Times reports. Right now each service has a different policy, and some of them are not overly supportive. The policy would establish rooms on all installations where service members could comfortably and cleanly pump breast milk during the day. It’s the little things, right?

Amp up fertility support. Right now Tricare does not cover IVF or artificial insemination, although some troops are able to access those services at cost at some military medical centers across the country and some wounded troops can access additional services. The plan, the Army Times reports, calls for the DoD to allow Tricare to cover IVF and artificial insemination as a way of encouraging female troops to stay in the service.

Expand the sabbatical programs. Right now some service members can take part in the “Career Intermission Program” that essentially allows a several year sabbatical from service. The Force of the Future plan seeks to extend this program, making it more widely available.

Fix military daycare hours. This is another proposal the Navy is already looking to implement. Right now military child development center hours don’t always overlap well with the work day. The plan, the Army Times reports, looks to expand the hours so that service members have guaranteed child care two hours before and two hours after the typical duty day.

Reduce PCS moves. If you want to stay at your current duty station longer – for family reasons or otherwise – the military may soon want to make that possible. But it could cost you in the form of an additional service obligation.

 

What do you think of these proposals? Tell us in the comments.

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