Nunn says parental leave for guard, reserve soldiers likely to expand

WASHINGTON — Republican Congressman Zach Nunn of Bondurant says the defense spending bill that congress passes each year includes an expansion of parental leave for some National Guard and Reserve soldiers. Nunn, who’s in the Air Force Reserve, and a Democratic Congressman from North Carolina who’s also a reservist, co-sponsored a Parental Leave Parity Act earlier this year and it was included in the annual defense bill that passed the House last week.

“We ask our men and women in uniform to go overseas in combat zones,” Nunn says. “When the active duty folks come home, they get up to six weeks to spend with their new family members. We want to make sure that our Reserve and Guard members here in Iowa get that same privilege.”

Birth mothers in all branches of the military can take up to 12 weeks of paid leave, but only fathers and adoptive parents who are full time soldiers are currently eligible for parental leave. Nunn says expanding parental leave to reservists and National Guard soldiers may boost recruitment.

“They deserve the opportunity to be there when their babies are born, help the spouse through the process,” Nunn says, “and also encourage foster families to look at adoption and know they’re going to get the same benefits as everybody else.”

Nunn says as a reservist, he was denied paid parental leave when he and his wife recently adopted two foster daughters. He also experienced the disparity a few years ago when he was serving in the Iowa National Guard. “My daughter was born and that weekend I was away at drills, leaving my wife to have both an infant baby in the hospital and being responsible for taking care of the kids,” Nunn says.

The parental leave change for reservists and guard members has had bipartisan backing in the U.S. Senate and Nunn says the new policy is likely to stay in the National Defense Authorization Act when the Senate voted on it.