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US Army approves several changes to break down child care barriers for soldiers

The Army said the new directive will help new mothers transition back to duty, as well as help all Army parents better care for their children while serving.

WASHINGTON — The United States Army approved several new policies this week that will help break down childcare obstacles for parents serving their country.

The Army announced Thursday it is taking steps to help expecting mothers, new parents and others battling childcare challenges during their service after receiving feedback.

A total of 12 new policy changes for Active Duty and Reserve soldiers were approved under a recently-signed Parenthood, Pregnancy and Postpartum Army Directive. The Army said it will help new soldier-moms transition back to duty as well as help all Army parents better care for their children while serving.

Included in those changes is a stipulation that one parent will be deferred for one year from deployments, operations and training that lasts more than one duty day so they can remain with their newborn child. 

Another change provides extensions up to 24 months for lactating soldiers for assignments where lactation accommodations cannot be provided.

“We believe all of these will have an outsized impact on our ability to recruit and retain talent as well as promoting and improving the well-being of all parents,” said Amy Kramer, lead action officer for the policy.

Other changes include measures that will protect single and dual-military parents from military separations or having to take personal leave to care for their sick children, as well as a change that allows for up to 42 days of convalescent leave for a soldier and their spouse if they experience pregnancy loss.

"Under the directive, greater emphasis on the intricacies of parenting, pregnancy and postpartum will be incorporated into commander education. Brigade commanders will also be required to publish policy letters on pregnancy and postpartum wellness," the Army News Service reported.

"We recruit Soldiers, but we retain families," said the Army's Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville. "Winning the war for talent means making sure our best and brightest people don’t have to choose between service and family."

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