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Military Leaves, Passes, and Liberty

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Emergency Leave. Emergency leave is chargeable leave granted for personal or family emergencies involving the immediate family. Unit commanders approve emergency leave, although commanders can delegate leave approval to no lower than the first sergeant for enlisted personnel (in some of the services). Normally, verification by the American Red Cross (ARC) or the host country’s equivalent agency is not necessary. However, when the official granting leave has reason to doubt the validity of an emergency situation, he or she may request assistance from the military service activity nearest the location of the emergency or, when necessary, from the ARC. The initial period is usually for no more than 30 days unless the member has a negative leave balance in which case the commander considers only that which is absolutely necessary to take care of the emergency situation. If the individual needs an extension while on emergency leave, he or she must contact the unit commander or first sergeant (for some of the services) for approval. Unit commanders advise members to apply for a humanitarian or exceptional family member reassignment or hardship discharge if the leave period is more than 60 days. If the member is assigned overseas, the military will usually arrange (free) transportation to and from the nearest CONUS (state-side) port. Further transportation is at the member's expense (although the AMC will generally grant loans in Emergency Leave situations).

The member may not request emergency leave for reasons such as normal pregnancy of a spouse, care of children during the spouse’s illness, or resolution of marital or financial problems. However, the member may request ordinary leave. Emergency leave is normally authorized in the following situations:

  • The member’s presence contributes to the welfare of a dying member of his or her immediate family or spouse’s family.
  • There has been a verified death in the member’s immediate family or the spouse’s immediate family.
  • There has been an injury, major surgery, or serious illness in the member’s immediate family or the spouse’s immediate family resulting in a serious problem only the member can resolve.
  • A natural disaster such as a flood, hurricane, or tornado occurred that affected the member personally.
En Route Leave. En route leave is in conjunction with PCS or TDY travel, including consecutive overseas tours. If the member does not have accrued leave, he or she can request the minimum amount of advance leave needed. Losing unit commanders normally approve up to 30 days en route leave with any PCS move if the leave does not interfere with port call (flight to overseas assignment) and duty reporting dates. Anyone who desires to take less leave or no leave en route is responsible for requesting accommodating travel arrangements from the personnel and transportation offices.

Although the military cannot force members to take leave for the convenience of the Government, available transportation may limit travel dates. Therefore, the military services generally use a window of dates for its requirements. If the member receives travel reservations within that window, the military does not consider leave to be for the convenience of the Government and the member will be charged leave for the other days.

Members who complete basic or technical training may request 10 days of leave en route if their first duty station is in the CONUS (within the states). They may request 14 days if going to an overseas assignment.

Terminal Leave. Terminal leave is chargeable leave used in conjunction with separation or retirement processing when a member desires to be absent on the last day of active duty. A member often uses this leave to accept employment that starts before his or her date of separation or retirement. Normally a member does not return to duty after terminal leave begins. Normally, the amount of leave taken cannot exceed the leave balance at the date of separation. (EXCEPTION: The member may request excess leave under verified emergency conditions.) A member may not extend a date of separation solely for the purpose of taking unused accrued leave, even if it is beyond his or her control. An exception would be if the member separated or retired because of a disability. If the member previously sold 60 days of leave, the military will extend the date of separation to allow the member to use accrued leave. If he or she has not sold 60 days of leave, the member must sell unused leave to the 60-day limit before the military can extend the date of separation.

Reenlistment Leave. At least 30 days and up to 90 days leave incident to reenlistment may be authorized to Service members provided that any advance leave involved does not exceed 30 days.

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