Hurd sponsors bipartisan bill to ensure military members receive ongoing parental leave

U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) recently unveiled bipartisan legislation that would amend current leave policy for U.S. military service members so their pre-approved parental leave is not terminated in the event of a child’s death.

“The tragic loss of a child creates an immeasurable amount of pain for families, and, just like any other American family, our men and women in uniform should have the time to grieve the loss of their child,” Rep. Hurd said.

The congressman sponsored the Elaine M. Checketts Military Families Act, H.R. 7101, with cosponsor U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) to provide for the continuation of paid parental leave for members of the U.S. Armed Services in the event of the death of the child, according to the congressional record summary.

H.R. 7101 is named for Elaine Checketts, who died at birth while her father, U.S. Major Matthew Checketts, was serving as an active-duty airman stationed at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

“The opportunity to complete my leave after our daughter passed away, thanks to the kindness and understanding of my commander, was a tremendous blessing for our family,” said Checketts. “We desperately needed that time to arrange for all that comes with the loss of a loved one. Then, as a family, we began the slow and seemingly endless process of emotional recovery without the added stress of going back to work full-time.”

Major Checketts endorsed H.R. 7101, saying he hopes the bill “will guarantee that all service members be afforded the same opportunity to plan and recover as we did.”

The Association of the U.S. Army also thanked Reps. Hurd and Davis for introducing the measure.

“Major Matthew Checketts tragically lost his daughter and needed time to grieve. I pray for their family and other military families as they endure such tremendous loss,” said Rep. Hurd. “Those who serve in our Armed Forces sacrifice so much for us to enjoy our freedoms and our way of life. Making sure they can be with their loved ones in times of loss is something simple and necessary we must do for our service members.”

U.S. Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on May 20 introduced the companion bill, S. 3776, in their chamber.