Women who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps now have 18 weeks of maternity leave, in a move announced Thursday by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to keep the best and brightest women in uniform.
Mothers in the Navy and Marine Corps previously got just six weeks of maternity leave. Mr. Mabus tripled that to 18 weeks, effective immediately, saying that the additional time off is both an investment in female troops to allow them to be better mothers and in the military to prevent the loss of highly-skilled service members.
“In the Navy and the Marine Corps, we are continually looking for ways to recruit and retain the best people,” Mr. 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.”
A Navy statement said giving women additional time off will make them more likely to stay in the military upon their return to work, leading to better readiness across the services.
The additional time off will be available to mothers in the Navy and Marine Corps immediately, but will also be retroactive to anyone who took maternity leave this year. The entire 18 weeks do not need to be taken at once, but do need to be used within one year of the child’s birth, a Navy release said.
“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,” Mr. 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.”
PHOTOS: Women In The Military