WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July, 24, 2007) - The Department of Defense approved a policy change to the U.S. Central Command Rest and Recuperation Leave Program last week, increasing the R&R time provided to servicemembers currently serving 15-month deployments in support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

"The increase of 18 days of chargeable R&R leave for servicemembers on 15-month deployments is tremendous news," said Lt. Col. Frazlier Pope, chief, R&R leave branch. "It clearly demonstrates DoD's recognition of the increased sacrifice tens of thousands of servicemembers and their Families make each day as we continue to fight this war on terrorism."

The amended R&R policy is a result of DoD's change to the rotation and mobilization policy increasing some theater deployments to 15-month tours. Any servicemember currently deployed on a 15-month tour is eligible, however only the Army has deployments of 15-month duration.

The amended policy, which became effective July 13, 2007, applies to military personnel only and is not retroactive. Only servicemembers who took leave on or after July 13th may take 18-days of leave.

"Servicemembers who departed for R&R leave prior to July 13th of this year are not eligible for additional chargeable R&R leave days. Regrettably, a line must be drawn at some point," said Lt. Col. Pope. "To make the policy retroactive would cause turbulence in field units and undermine the mission-oriented posture."

Servicemembers will not be charged for their travel days. The R&R leave begins when the servicemember arrives at the commercial airport nearest their leave destination.

"It says 'thank you' to servicemembers and their Families in a very concrete way," Lt. Col. Pope said. "And it further validates the concept that time away from the combat zone on R&R not only benefits the servicemembers and loved ones, but improves operation readiness by refreshing the force."

Servicemembers serving one-year tours will continue to receive 15-days of chargeable R&R leave. The policy is applicable to active-duty Soldiers and mobilized Reservists who deploy for 15-months. However, current Reserve mobilizations are for less than 15-month deployments with options for extensions.