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New Army parents to get more time at home

Jul 17, 2008
BY Army News Service

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 3, 2008) - Military mothers of newborns, and certain Army parents adopting a child, will be able to stay home longer before deploying or serving overseas, starting Aug. 1.

The new policy will lengthen deferments from four to six months for new mothers before being deployed, assigned to a dependent-restricted overseas tour, an accompanied overseas tour where concurrent travel is denied or temporary duty away from their home station.

The expanded program also applies to military couples who adopt a child - either the mother or the father - following the date the child is placed in their home as part of the formal adoption process. It is up to the couple which of them takes advantage of the new policy change, officials said. They said single mothers or single fathers adopting a child are also eligible for the program.

"The office of the surgeon general did a review and brought it to our attention, and so the decision was made that this would be good for the Army because we recognize that that the period of time after birth is important for the bonding of the mother and child," said Lt. Col. Gerald Conway, chief of distribution and readiness in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (G-1). "More time was preferred than the current Army policy, which was four months, and so the decision was made to extend it to six months."

Soldiers with deferments ending prior to Aug. 1 will complete their four-month deferment but, commanders are encouraged to give Soldiers six months if operationally feasible, said Conway.

Soldiers who are under deferments as of Aug. 1 will be eligible for the extended six-month policy, unless waived by the individual Soldier concerned.

The policy change coincides with the Army's return to a twelve-month deployment policy, according to Conway, and is part of the Army's effort to reset and rebalance the force.

The extension of this deferment period brings the Army in line with the Marine Corps at six months. The Air Force is four months and the Navy is 12 months.

"This is all part of emphasizing the importance of family, rebalancing the force, getting back to some predictability, stability for Soldiers and Families," said Conway.

"This is the Army's recognition that Family is the foundation of our fighting force," he continued. "We recruit Soldiers, we retain Families. There's been some discussion about this for awhile and I think Soldiers will view this positively just because it gives them more time. I just look at my own experiences when we had our children, I think it will be viewed very positively, just to give them more time to recover and recognizing the importance of Family."

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