ARLINGTON, Va. — Servicemembers can now accrue more leave, keep the extra time off for longer, and sell back some of their unused leave at any time in their careers, the Defense Department announced Friday.

The Defense Department has issued implementing guidance on changes to the military leave policy that had been enacted in the Fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act, said DOD spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.

"This new law immediately affects all servicemembers, honoring their sacrifices and recognizing the high operations tempo of ongoing military conflicts," Lainez said in an e-mail.

Previously, servicemembers could get up to 60 days of accrued leave per fiscal year, but that has been increased to 75 days until Dec. 31, 2010, she said.

Afterward, the limit will go back to 60 days, she said. "Servicemembers will be subject to losing leave in excess of 60 days at the next fiscal year changeover (i.e., on Oct. 1, 2011)," she said.

Another change allows servicemembers deployed to a combat zone for 120 consecutive days to keep their "special leave accrual" of up to 120 days for four fiscal years instead of three, Lainez said.

The special leave accrual for servicemembers supporting a contingency operation has been increased from 90 to 120 days, she said. They may also keep the extra leave for two fiscal years instead of one.

In another change, enlisted servicemembers who earn more than 120 days of special leave accrual can now sell up to 30 of those extra days back at any point in their careers, Lainez said.

The old military leave policy only allowed servicemembers to sell back unused leave at specific times, such as re-enlistment or separation, she said.

Enlisted servicemembers can sell back another 30 days of regular leave at those times, Lainez said.

Officers are still subject to the old policy on when they can sell back unused leave, she said.

The final change increases special rest and recuperation time from 15 to 20 days for servicemembers who serve more than 12 months overseas, and who opt for government-funded transportation, Lainez said. Servicemembers who provide their own transportation are still allowed 30 days of such leave, she said.

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