Daddy's home: Policy OKs Soldiers' paternity leave
April 24, 2009
When Capt. Rodney Jackson's wife, Demetra, had their first daughter two years ago, he had to use part of his annual leave in order to spend time with his family.
However, this year, a new Army policy has allowed him the chance to spend time with the couple's newest addition without dipping into his leave.
New dads can now make use of the Army's new paternity leave policy, which allows 10 days of non-chargeable leave after the birth of a child. The policy went into effect in March.
"The Army got this right," Jackson said. "It's definitely a worthwhile policy and I think a lot of people are going to benefit from it."
The leave policy affects married active duty Soldiers, including activated guard and reserve Soldiers, whose spouses gave birth after October 2008. Although the leave must be taken consecutively, new fathers have 45 days to use it.
The 45-day time limit worked especially well for Jackson, who was attending the Adjutant General Captain's Career Course. Because he could only miss so many hours of class, he was able to make up for the time lost once the classes were completed.
"One thing about it that I do like is you can (use leave) up to 45 days," he said.
Jackson said the policy shows families that the Army recognizes how important the father's role is in the days following the birth of a child.
"Even though (the wife) is at home, she still needs to heal," he said. "The husband needs to actually play a role in that. They need our help."
And although he is happy to help out, Jackson said he appreciates the distinction between paternity leave and having to take annual leave.
"That's not really a family vacation," he said. "You're changing diapers, you're trying to get the baby adjusted to the home."
His wife said the policy is especially helpful for new moms, like her, who have other small children in the home.
Jackson said the paternity leave is a welcome addition to the maternity leave the Army already had in place.
"Now that it's given to the men as well, it's important, because we play a role too."