DOD Looking to Triple Maternity Leave

The Defense Department is looking to follow the Navy’s lead by tripling the amount of maternity leave women in the service can take, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said. The move, which would give a mother 18 weeks of leave instead of six, is being considered by Defense Secretary Ash Carter as part of his Force of the Future initiative. And while it is not finalized, James said it will happen for the Air Force if Carter does not approve it. “If I turn out to be wrong about that … I intend to do that under my authority as Secretary of the Air Force,” James said Jan. 14 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank in Washington, D.C. The move is the latest in a cultural shift for maternity benefits in the Air Force. Women in the Air Force used to be subject to deployment six months after giving birth, and that has been changed to one year. The Air Force also has moved back the first physical fitness test after birth from six months to one year.