Military to Announce Changes to Maternity Leave Policy

Defense Secretary Ash Carter will announce Thursday that female service members will now get 12 weeks paid maternity leave.

This doubles the amount of time women in the Army and Air Force now receive, but cuts six weeks from the leave women in the Navy and Marine Corps have had as a benefit since last summer.

In July the Navy announced that women would get 18 weeks paid maternity leave.

Related: All Combat Roles Now Open to Women, Pentagon Says

Sailors and Marines who are currently on maternity leave, pregnant or who become pregnant within 30 days of today's announcement will still receive the 18 weeks of leave.

Carter will also announce paid paternity leave will increase from 10 days to 14 days. These benefits apply to same-sex married couples and those seeking leave for adoption.

These announcements are part of Carter's "Force of the Future" initiative — changes meant to make service members' lives easier in an attempt to attract and retain the best possible candidates for the U.S. military.

As part of this announcement, the Department of Defense will now pay for egg and sperm freezing for active duty service members, but will not pay the full cost of IVF— some coverage is already covered.