Becoming a new parent can be daunting for anyone, let alone for military servicemembers and their spouses. But within the last year, a slew of new ordinances has been put in place to make your experience as a military parent and a military spouse easier. Here’s what you need to know:
Serving While Pregnant
Within the last year, several branches of the military have begun issuing free maternity uniforms for pregnant servicemembers. This not only dismissed the concern for ensuring that pregnant servicemembers has the correct uniforms, but eliminated the need to pay for them out of pocket.
The Air Force also loosened their guidelines for pregnant pilots, allowing them to continue flying certain air crafts under certain conditions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy.
Extended Parental Leave
In a memo signed by Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the parental leave policy for servicemembers has been extended as of January 2023. According to the new memo, service members who give birth “will be authorized 12 weeks of parental leave following a period of convalescence to care for the child.” Service members who are the non-birth parent will also be authorized 12 weeks of leave to care for the child. Additionally, service members who are undergoing the adoption process or who have long-term foster care children placed with them will also be granted 12 weeks of parental leave.
“Members will be afforded the opportunity to take full advantage of the Military Parental Leave Program consistent with their desires [and the] operational requirements and training workloads of their unit,” Cisneros wrote. “It is important for the development of military families that members be able to care for their newborn, adopted or placed child or children.”
In October, the basic allowance for housing rates automatically increased in 28 areas where rent has skyrocketed by 20% or more. While the increase only lasted until the end of 2022, the new BAH rates were increased, averaging a raise of 12.1%. The DOD additionally increased the temporary lodging expense coverage to give families more flexibility to search for housing. These payments included a dislocation allowance to all eligible service members with rising prices for enlisted service members between the grades of E-1 to E-6 to help offset personal expenses for permanent changes of station.
Support for Military Spouse Employment
Just as transitioning veterans have a difficult time looking for employment, military spouses face their own unique set of struggles when it comes to being employed. For the last several months, the DOD has been working on new programs that will help spouses to gain and retain employment to lessen the roadblocks for spouses who are relocating.
“We know that one-third of military spouses must obtain new professional licenses every time they move to a new state,” Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder stated in an October press conference. “”To ease this burden, we’ve accelerated the development of seven more interstate licensure compacts. We anticipate state approval starting in 2023.”
For the last 10 years, the DOD has been sponsoring the “Military Childcare in Your Neighborhood-Plus” program, which provided free assistance to military families seeking quality childcare when on-base childcare was deemed unavailable. The program has expanded to include states that formerly didn’t have access to the program. This has allowed even more military families to locate and access high quality civilian childcare for their children.
Additionally, there are several other programs that work with the military to find childcare for military children. To find out more about “Military Childcare in Your Neighborhood-Plus” and other great military-supported programs, visit childcareaware.org/fee-assistancerespite/.
CAPTION: 1st Lt. Aliperti and Pvt. Ezz, after receiving an Army Meritorious Service Medal at the University of South Florida Inventors
Research Park in Tampa, Florida, March 29, 2023.
Sources: Department of Defense, Child Care Aware, U.S. Air Force