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DoD announces new bereavement leave benefit for service members

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  • Defense News

The Department of Defense announced March 29, a new non-chargeable, paid bereavement leave benefit for service members who suffer the loss of their spouses or children. Directive-type Memorandum 23-003 – "Bereavement Leave for Service Members" implements the policy and procedures for the administration of bereavement leave for service members across the Department of Defense. The new leave benefit is authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022.

The loss of a spouse or child has detrimental effects on a service member’s ability to perform assigned duties. Bereavement leave is designed to allow service members time away from their military duties to make the arrangements required by the tragic death of their spouses or children and to attend their funeral, burial, or memorial service. Service members will be afforded the opportunity to take up to two weeks of leave in connection with the death of a service member’s spouse or child, consistent with operational requirements.

Specifically, an active and reserve component service member (on active duty for longer than 12 months) who experiences the death of a spouse or child and who has fewer than 30 days of accrued ordinary leave on the date of the death is eligible for up to 14 consecutive days of bereavement leave. Based on the law, this benefit is only available to service members with accrued leave balances below 30 days. Thus, a service member with a leave balance of 30 or more days may take chargeable emergency leave as they would in the past. However, if, while on emergency leave, his or her balance falls below 30 days, the service member will become eligible for the bereavement leave benefit of up to 14 days.

The new bereavement leave benefit applies to all eligible service members on or after the effective date of DTM 23-003 (i.e., March 29). Also, a retroactive provision in DTM 23-003 is available to service members for this new benefit. For a service member whose spouse or child died on or after June 25, 2022, and before the effective date of DTM 23-003, and who was charged leave taken in connection with the death will have those leave days of up to 14 days restored to his or her leave balance if the service member would have been eligible for bereavement leave. Additionally, for a service member who took emergency leave in connection with the death of a spouse or child after the effective date of DTM 23-003 but before his or her respective military service releases its bereavement leave policy, will have those emergency leave days of up to 14 days restored to his or her leave balance if the service member would have been eligible for bereavement leave.

Service members are encouraged to contact their military service for more specifics on the administration of the new bereavement leave benefit.

The full memorandum can be found here.