From the Commandant: Changes to paid maternity leave policy

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Mrs. Fran DeNinno-Zukunft at the Child Development Center in Washington, D.C. to commemorate Military Family Month. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft and Mrs. Fran DeNinno-Zukunft at the Child Development Center in Washington, D.C. to commemorate Military Family Month. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Written by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.

On the first day as your Commandant, I provided you a guiding principle called “Duty to People.” Duty to People is in large part a commitment to you – the 88,000 men and women of our Coast Guard, your families and those who support you.

As part of this commitment, the Coast Guard will increase paid maternity leave from six weeks to up to 12 weeks. This welcomed policy change is effective immediately and was carefully orchestrated with our sister Armed Services to ensure our military mothers can welcome the newest members of our Coast Guard family into their homes. Women have proudly served in our Coast Guard since 1978, and this policy change reflects their tremendous Service to Nation and embodies our Duty to People.

Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson joined me in today’s announcement. As our service secretary, his leadership and support has been crucial to the Coast Guard’s investment in our people. “Our servicemembers’ success cannot depend on a choice between their children and their mission,” Sec. Johnson said. “Ensuring new mothers have the flexibility they need to care for their families reflects our deep commitment to our workforce and strengthens this Department as a whole.”

While this policy change goes into effect today, I am mindful of other challenges our families continue to face in their Service to Nation. The Vice Commandant and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard have heard many of these challenges from you during their visits around the fleet, and I have heard directly from you as well. Working with our Department of Defense colleagues and our leadership in the Administration and Congress, we will examine potential leave for partners and spouses as well as leave for adoptive parents. Whether caring for an infant or raising a family and needing the flexibility to do so, you – the most talented workforce the Coast Guard has ever assembled – deserve well-reasoned policies that allow you to thrive professionally.

As I have said before – and will emphasize in my upcoming State of the Coast Guard Address – our people are the heart and soul of our Service, and I am wholeheartedly committed to your welfare. Going forward, we will continue to examine these workforce issues to best balance mission readiness with quality of life in building our 21st century Coast Guard.

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