WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M) urged the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) to favorably review and recommend to the Secretary of Defense Mark Esper policy changes included in their legislation, the MOMs Leave Act (S. 1615).
“We write to express our strong support for providing military mothers in the National Guard and Reserves equal treatment for maternity leave as their Active Component counterparts.” wrote the senators. “Given your committee members’ vast and diversified military experience which represents every service component, we expect that you understand the importance of codifying maternity leave as a standing policy rather than a case-by-case leadership decision left to the discretion of the directorate, command or an individual.”
DACOWITS is one of the oldest Department of Defense (DoD) federal advisory committees. The Committee is composed of civilian women and men appointed by the Secretary of Defense to provide advice and recommendations on matters and policies relating to the recruitment, retention, employment, integration, well-being and treatment of servicewomen in the Armed Forces. Since 1951, the Committee has submitted over 1,000 recommendations to the Secretary of Defense for consideration. As of 2019, approximately 98 percent have been either fully or partially adopted by DoD.
The bipartisan MOMs Leave Act would allow women servicemembers of the Reserve Component to receive pay and points towards retirement while on maternity leave, making certain that these military mothers serving in the National Guard and Reserve can take the maternity leave they need without worrying about how it will impact their creditable military service. The MOMS Leave Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Martin Heinrich (D.N.M.), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y).
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
General (Ret.) Janet Wolfenbarger and Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Michele Jones
Chair and Vice Chair, DACOWITS
4800 Mark Center Dr.
Alexandria, VA 22350-9000
Dear General (Ret.) Wolfenbarger and Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Jones:
We write to express our strong support for providing military mothers in the National Guard and Reserves equal treatment for maternity leave as their Active Component counterparts. Earlier this year, we introduced the MOMS Leave Act (S. 1615) to achieve that end and believe this is a straightforward policy that could be implemented within the Department of Defense through directive or guidance. As the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS), we believe your Committee has the opportunity to advise the Secretary with a favorable recommendation for policy changes that better reflect the needs of the Reserve force and bring parity to the Active Component.
The policy changes contained in the MOMS Leave Act offers Reserve Component mothers six duty days of paid time off for maternity leave, and the ability to accumulate the 12 points they would otherwise lose that count toward their service obligation, retirement, and promotions. The Congressional Budget Office reported this legislation and these policy changes as budget neutral. Given your committee members’ vast and diversified military experience which represents every service component, we expect that you understand the importance of codifying maternity leave as a standing policy rather than a case-by-case leadership decision left to the discretion of the directorate, command or an individual.
We urge you to review the MOMS Leave Act maternity leave proposal favorably during your Committee’s upcoming quarterly business meeting September 17-18, 2019, and to recommend to the Secretary of Defense that these maternity leave policy changes for the National Guard and Reserves be implemented. As in the Active Component, women choosing to serve our great Nation in the Reserve Component should be guaranteed the time they need to recover from childbirth and spend important time with their newborn without losing a paycheck or delaying their career.
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