The 2009 National Defense Authorization Act is in full swing with many service members benefiting from basic pay and subsistence increases as well as other annual raises. Along with the routine, however, are a number of unique benefits designed to support a Soldier's roll as a family member rather than a warrior.
One such benefit approved by Congress last October stands out as a particular boon to budding fathers who happen to wear a uniform; under the Act's Section 532, married male service members are now entitled to 10 days of non-chargeable leave - which cannot be broken up into individual days - within 45 days of their child's birth. The additional benefit now gives new daddies the opportunity to bond with their bundle of joy without tapping into precious leave time normally reserved for paid vacation or emergencies.
The Army Paternity Leave Program, which became official last March in an All Army Activities Message, marks the Army as the last military branch to offer the additional benefit to its members. According to the Act's provisions, married male service members who became a father on or after Oct. 14, 2008, can retroactively take the leave time as well, which doesn't count against annual leave.
So far, the program has been used by some members here at Camp Atterbury. lst Lt. David Bryant, a mobilizations officer at Camp Atterbury, took advantage of the paternity leave in early April after the birth of his son, Braden. Bryant, who didn't have much leave time to work with around his son's birth, said that the extra time off was a huge benefit to his growing family.
"I didn't have any leave built up from my last deployment, so I was really looking at how many days I could take off following Braden's birth," he said. "Because of this program, I didn't have to dip into what little leave time I had, not to mention I was able to get used to being a dad on my time. It's a blessing to see the Army took care of my needs."
Nick Carney, a civilian contractor at Camp Atterbury, became a father earlier this spring but couldn't take any paternity leave since it was unavailable to him. "I would have taken it if it was available, but for us, it's dipping into vacation time," Carney said.
Sgt. Maj. Gina Owens of Camp Atterbury's Human Resources said the program shows an increased momentum within Army policy to give back to those who have served and sacrificed for their country.
"It's all about taking care of the Soldiers, and this is just one more way of doing that," Owens said. "It's nice that the Army recognizes the importance of having your significant other there for such an occasion."Source