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Pools at the Hale Koa Hotel beckon service members and their families enjoying the Hawaiian sunshine along the shores of Waikiki Beach. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force is letting members accrue up to two months of extra leave to use over the next three years.
Pools at the Hale Koa Hotel beckon service members and their families enjoying the Hawaiian sunshine along the shores of Waikiki Beach. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force is letting members accrue up to two months of extra leave to use over the next three years. (Donna Miles/Defense Department)

Airmen and guardians will be able to keep up to 120 days of leave through 2024, more than double the usual amount allowed to be accrued, an Air Force administrative memo said.

Unused leave exceeding 60 days is normally lost at the end of each fiscal year, but coronavirus-related restrictions since last year have made it difficult for service members and others to take vacations.

“Rest and recuperation are vital to morale, unit and professional performance, and overall motivation for Airmen and Guardians,” acting Air Force Secretary John Roth said in a July 21 memo.

A Defense Department special leave accrual policy had already allowed airmen to retain up to 120 days of leave through September 2023. The memo further extends leave accrued by the end of September of this year through Sept. 30, 2024.

Airmen and their families board a plane at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in 2016. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force is letting members accrue two months of extra leave to use over the next three years.
Airmen and their families board a plane at Aviano Air Base, Italy, in 2016. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Air Force is letting members accrue two months of extra leave to use over the next three years. (R.J. Biermann/U.S. Air Force)

Many airmen and guardians, “through no fault of their own, have found it difficult to reduce their individual leave balances,” Roth said.

The policy change applies to Air Force and Space Force members on active duty, and Reserve and Guard airmen on Title 10 or Title 32 orders.

Roth stressed the importance of not waiting too long to take time off, despite the extension.

“Commanders will continue to encourage and provide members with opportunities to use leave in the year it is earned,” he said.

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