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Leave and Liberty Information

Leave and Liberty. Those two words are sure to put a smile on any service members face. But what are they and do they mean the same thing? Here we will try and answer your questions about Leave and Liberty. If after reading this section you still do not have an answer to your question, then please contact us and we will try and answer it for you. Or for a faster response ask our members within our Forums. They are always happy to help.

What is the difference between Leave and Liberty? Don't they mean the same thing?
Yes and No. They both mean that the service member does not have to work, however, at the same time they both mean separate things. First, Leave as defined by the Department of the Navy is an authorized absence from a place of duty, chargeable against the Marine’s leave account. This leave is earned at the rate of 2.5 days of leave per month for active duty of 30 consecutive days or more, except for periods of: (a) absence from duty without leave; (b) absence over leave; (c) confinement as the result of a sentence of a court-martial; and (d) leave required to be taken under 10 U.S.C. 876a, (Title 10, United States Code). Liberty is defined by the Department of the Navy as any authorized absence granted for short periods to provide respite from the working environment or for other specific reasons, at the end of which the Marine is actually on board or in the location from which the Marine regularly commutes to work. This includes regular and special liberty periods.

So anytime I want to take leave I can take it?
Oh if it were only that simple. Leave has to be approved by the command. Even though Leave is a RIGHT (not a privilege) that is granted by Congress under Federal Law that doesn't necessarily mean you can take it whenever you wish. As with all things, "military necessity" determines when you can take your leave.

What are the different types of leave?
DoD Directive 1327.5 defines several types of leave:

Regular Leave.
Another name for “ordinary” leave is annual leave. Normally, members request leave, as accruing (earning), within mission requirements. Members use annual leave to take a vacation, attend to parental family needs such as illnesses, during traditional national holiday periods, for attendance at spiritual events or other religious observances, and/or as terminal leave with retirement or separation from active duty.

Advance Leave.
Advance leave is chargeable leave that exceeds the member’s current leave balance but does not exceed the amount of leave that will be earned during the remaining period of enlistment. If a member separates, reenlists, or retires earlier than planned, he or she must reimburse the Government for any advance leave that becomes excess. Advance leave is appropriate for urgent personal or emergency situations and for leave en route during PCS or TDY but cannot be more than the minimum amount of time needed. Many commanders will not approve advanced leave except in cases of emergency.

Convalescent Leave.
Convalescent leave is an authorized absence normally for the minimal time needed to meet the medical needs for recuperation. This is not chargeable leave. Unit commanders normally approve convalescent leave based on recommendations by either the MTF (Military Treatment Facility) authority or physician most familiar with the member’s medical condition. When a member elects civilian medical care at personal expense determined by a military physician to be a medical procedure considered as elective by military MTF authorities, such as cosmetic surgery, members must use ordinary leave for all absences from duty, including convalescence. When medical authorities determine a medical procedure is necessary, such as childbirth, and the member elects civilian medical care, the commander, upon the recommendation of a military doctor, may grant convalescent leave.

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.

Except for emergency leave, the first leave taken after reenlistment shall be considered reenlistment leave and should normally begin immediately upon reenlistment. However, it may be delayed so as to begin upon completion of a course of instruction that begins within 30 days of reenlistment or upon transfer from an overseas station incident to the Service member's reenlistment. In addition, reenlistment leave may also be deferred for reasons of operational necessity. Re-enlistment leave is chargeable leave. Up to 60 days "saved" leave and 30 days "advanced leave" (if approved by the commander) can be taken.

Excess Leave.
Excess leave is granted for personal emergencies over and above the amount the member can earn before discharge, separation, or retirement. The total amount of accrued, advance, and excess leave cannot exceed 60 days for any one period of absence. Excess leave is a no-pay status; therefore, entitlement to pay and allowances and leave accrual stops on the member’s first day of excess leave. A member will not receive disability pay, if injured, for time spent on excess leave; he or she is ineligible by law to receive disability retired pay or disability severance pay. The only exception to the 60-day limit is to give indefinite periods of unpaid absence to the member being processed for certain discharges as awaiting approval of a court-martial sentence.

Environmental and Morale Leave (EML).
EML is authorized at an overseas installation where adverse environmental conditions require special arrangements for leave in desirable places at periodic intervals. Funded EML is charged as ordinary leave, but members are authorized to use DoD-owned or -controlled aircraft; plus, travel time to and from the EML destination is not charged as leave. Unfunded EML is also charged as ordinary leave, but members are authorized space-available air transportation from the duty locations, and travel time to and from the leave destination is charged as leave.

What are Regular and Special Passes/Liberty?
A pass (called "liberty" in the Navy/Coast Guard/Marine Corps) is an authorized absence, not chargeable as leave, for short periods to provide respite from the working environment or for other reasons.

Regular Pass.
A regular pass starts after normal working hours on a given day and stops at the beginning of normal working hours the next duty day. This includes non-duty days of Saturday and Sunday and a holiday for up to 3 days total if a member normally works Monday through Friday or up to 4 days for a member who works a nontraditional works schedule, such as a compressed workweek. The combination of non-duty days and a public holiday may not exceed 4 days. DOD or higher management levels may determine that a Monday or Friday is compensatory (comp) time off when a holiday is observed on a Tuesday or Thursday, in which case a regular pass may consist of a weekend, a comp day off, and a public holiday.

Special Pass.
Commanders grant special passes for unusual reasons, such as comp-time off, reenlistment, and special recognition. The special pass may be for 3- or 4-day periods. Commanders will not grant special passes combined with regular pass or holiday periods when the combined period of continuous absence exceeds the 3- or 4-day limitation. Also, special passes may not be combined with leave. Special pass periods begin the hour the member departs from work and end when the member returns to duty. Members may be required to return in the event of an operational mission requirement such as a recall, unit alert, or unit emergency. Members should always have their military identification card in their possession for identification purposes while on authorized absences from official duty. When it is essential to control authorized absences for security or operational reasons and other special circumstances, commanders can use DD Form 345, Armed Forces Liberty Pass

Permissive TDY (PTDY)
PTDY is a period of authorized administrative absence to attend or participate in a designated official or semi-official program for which funded TDY is not appropriate. PTDY is not chargeable leave. Commanders may not authorize PTDY in place of leave or special pass nor in conjunction with special passes.

Types of authorized PTDYs include, but are not limited to:

Traveling to or in the vicinity of a new PDS to secure off-base housing before the member out processes the old PDS. (Generally, members request PTDY after signing in at the new PDS.)

Accompanying a dependent patient or military member patient to a designated MTF not in the local area when the medical authority deems it essential.

Attending national conventions or meetings hosted by service-connected organizations such as the Air Force Sergeants Association and the Noncommissioned Officers’ Association.

Participation in the Recruiters Assistance Program (RAP).



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July 18, 2001

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