Military Family Leave Expanded to Include Armed Forces, Injured Veterans

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2010 includes a provision called the Supporting Military Families Act. This law expands the recent military leave entitlements of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to make qualifying exigency leave and military caregiver leave available in more circumstances. The law makes four key amendments to the FMLA:

  1. Qualifying exigency leave is now available to family members of those in the regular Armed Forces as well as those in the National Guard or Reserves. This type of leave allows family members to take some time off to handle important matters (such as setting up temporary childcare, drafting a will, or making financial arrangements) relating to a child or spouse or to a parent's impending call to active duty military service.
  2. Qualifying exigency leave is available to family members of all those deployed to a foreign country. This removes the former requirement that a member of the National Guard or Reserves be serving "in support of a contingency operation."
  3. Family members are eligible to take caregiver leave to care for a veteran suffering a service-related serious illness or injury, as long as the veteran was a member of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or Reserves within five years of requiring care. This new provision is intended to allow leave to care for a family member with an injury that might not manifest right away, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Previously, the FMLA allowed military caregiver leave only for current service members.
  4. Military caregiver leave is now available when a family member has a preexisting serious illness or injury that is aggravated by active duty in the military. The law previously allowed caregiver leave only for serious illnesses or injuries incurred while on active duty.