What is military caregiver leave under FMLA?

Military caregiver leave allows eligible employees to take up to 26 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period to care for a family member (spouse, son or daughter, parent, next of kin) who is a covered service member/veteran with a serious injury or illness. Military caregiver leave is available to an eligible employee once per service member, per serious injury or illness.

The “next of kin” of a covered service member/veteran is the nearest blood relative, other than the veteran’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority:

  1. a blood relative who has been designated in writing by the service member as the next of kin for FMLA purposes
  2. blood relative who has been granted legal custody of the service member
  3. brothers and sisters
  4. grandparents
  5. aunts and uncles
  6. first cousins

A veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness is a cover ed veteran if he or she:

  • was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserves)
  • was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable
  • was discharged within the five -year period before the eligible employee first takes FMLA military caregiver leave to care for him or her

A serious injury or illness is one that is incurred by a service member while on active duty that may cause the service member to be medically unfit to perform the duties of his or her office, grade, rank, or rating. A serious injury or illness also includes injuries or illnesses that existed before the service member’s active duty and that were aggravated by service while on active duty.