Don’t worry, your saved-up leave won’t disappear before you can use it

“No, the policy has not been revised since it was issued in April 2020."

We at Task & Purpose love to hear from readers, and one question we’ve gotten from quite a few of you is: “I’ve got piles of unused leave from last year and because of the COVID-19 pandemic I couldn’t go to Disney World (or Las Vegas, or Miami for Spring Break, or that rafting trip with my friends, or whatever.) Do I get to keep it for later?”

And the answer is YES. The military’s unused leave policy is still the same as the one it announced in April 2020. This means service members can carry up to 120 days of unused leave over into the next year, and they have until Sept. 30, 2023 to use it.

Normally, service members are permitted to carry over just 60 days of leave from one fiscal year to the next, but the Department of Defense doubled that in April due to COVID-19-induced travel restrictions.

“No, the policy has not been revised since it was issued in April 2020,” DoD spokesperson Lisa Lawrence told Task & Purpose. “Eligible members who carried over leave balances greater than 60 days from FY20 to FY21 are able to continue carrying over their unused SLA leave through September 30, 2023.”

Now, what happens after Sept. 30, 2023? Lawrence said that generally only a maximum of 60 days of leave would be allowed to carry over into October 2023, which marks the start of the next fiscal year. But some service members who were deployed to combat zones or aboard ships may be eligible to keep more than that, she explained.

“Leave is vital to the continued health and welfare of our service members and civilian workforce,” reads a Defense Department statement published in April, back when it first announced the new policy.

As for what to do once you finally take leave, why not take a trip to Shades of Green, Disney’s hidden vacation spot for vets and service members? Not feeling that? Fair, you’re probably tired of seeing high and tights. There’s always the world’s most dangerous road trip — no, not a deployment to Afghanistan. Instead, you could take the world’s most dangerous bus-tour in Afghanistan! Actually don’t do that, that’s a terrible idea.

However you decide to spend your leave, know that it’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready.

Featured image: Soldiers of 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stand in line for a pre-manifest as they prepare to leave National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif., July 2, 2013 (Army photo / Sgt. Marcus Fichtl)

Related: Disney security guards have freaking challenge coins and we have to talk about it

David Roza

David Rozacovers the Air Force and anything Star Wars-related. He joined Task & Purpose in 2019, after covering local news in Maine and then FDA policy in Washington D.C. He loves hearing the stories of individual airmen and their families, and he also holds the unpopular opinion that Imperial stormtroopers are actually excellent marksmen. Contact the author here.

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