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Good news for military family caregivers today. The Obama Administration has proposed a new rule that would allow families of U.S. service members to use the Family and Medical Leave Act to care for an injured soldier or to help them get ready if they’re deployed on short notice.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits Matt and Sgt. Kimberly Munley at the hospital on Fort Hood, Texas. Photo by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff via CreativeCommons.

Labor Department officials will consider comments over the next 60 days before deciding whether to give it the green light. Here are the highlights of the proposal:

  • Family caregivers could take a work leave of up to five years after the service member has left the military. It only applies toward the servicemembers who served in post-September 11th combat.
  • Families of those in the regular armed forces would be included, not only in the National Guard and reservists.
  • Spouses, children, or parents could have up to 12 weeks of leave from work to help a service member deployed on short notice (to handle child care issues, attend military functions, or deal with legal and financial arrangements).
  • Family members would be entitled to up to 26 weeks of leave to care for recent veterans who are injured or become ill while serving, including conditions that arise after the veteran has left service.
  • An employee would be allowed 15 days off, instead of the current five, to be with a service member on leave to rest or recuperate.

Any thoughts? If you could propose new rules for caregivers of military families, what would they be?