Morale: One Good Deed No Longer Punished


July 2, 2008: The U.S. Department of Defense has finally done something to prevent troops from losing their leave time because they were in combat. This arises because, while U.S. military personnel are given 30 days of vacation ("leave" in milspeak) a year, if they don't have a chance to take off (because they are in combat, or some other vital assignment), they can only accrue 60 days before they lose it. Actually, troops would get paid (at their pay rate) for the untaken vacation time (at the end of their current contract). But it's not the same as getting some down time when you really need it. That's really a case of "no good deed goes unpunished." Not only were the most overworked (and often most valuable) troops not able to take vacations for a long time, they were then penalized by losing vacation time.

The new rule allows overworked troops to accrue up to 120 days of leave, before they start to risk losing it. Moreover, if accrued days go over 120, up to 30 more days can be cashed in later in some circumstances (as long as the owner is still in the service). The military ran the numbers and found that no one (well, very few) troops accrue a hundred days. This extension is only available to those spending time in a combat zone. Basically, what the military wants to do is avoid screwing those troops who go the extra mile, and take no leave for years on end. The brass also want to avoid appearing to reward such sacrifice by screwing the trooper out of their unused leave time.


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