The Department of the Air Force has empowered unit commanders and civilian directors to greenlight emergency leaves of absence for members of the Air and Space Forces under certain circumstances, according to a Sept. 8 release. Prior to this policy change, the Air Force Secretary had to sign off on such requests.
According to the release, this emergency time off comes with a few ground rules:
- It may only be used for eligible emergencies, which include “the death or serious medical condition of an immediate family member, or any other hardship the commander or director determines appropriate.”
- It may only last up to two straight weeks.
- Each service member may only take one such leave of absence during their entire career.
- Emergency leave of absence time can’t be charged to service members’ leave balances, since it’s only intended to keep “them from entering advanced or excess leave status.”
“This delegation gives commanders and civilian directors the flexibility to assist their Airmen and Space Professionals directly and eliminates steps to get this type of leave approved,” USAF’s Deputy Director of Military Force Management Policy Lisa M. Truesdale said in the release. “Additionally, our leaders can now aid their members faster and help prevent them from going into an unfavorable leave status in such a difficult time.”
Last summer, then-Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright told Air Force Magazine he was trying to secure time off that Airmen could use specifically for bereavement. At the time, Wright said USAF was looking to give troops up to two weeks of leave earmarked explicitly for this purpose, but noted that figure wasn’t finalized.
Service members can refer to AFI 36-3003 Military Leave Policy for more information, according to the release.