Leaves and Furloughs
In marked contrast to the enlisted man or sailor, officers enjoyed a legal right to request and take paid leaves and furloughs. In 1835, the secretary of the navy lost his ability to save money by furloughing officers waiting for a new posting. Naval officers could still request a paid three‐month leave to attend to domestic business or an indefinite furlough to leave the nation's borders. Army officers took advantage of their more extensive privileges to work for civilian engineering companies, lobby in Washington on their unit's behalf, or enjoy eastern urban attractions. In addition to the possibility of a personal leave of up to eighteen months, a doctor's certificate was all an army officer needed for a year of sick leave in the nineteenth century.
The creation of a conscripted army of citizen‐soldiers during World War I brought the nation's attention to the problem of fighting a war for democracy with an army that maintained a sharp distinction between the privileges enjoyed by commissioned officers and enlisted troops. After World War II, Congress reacted to a similar public outcry by giving enlisted men the legal right to a paid thirty‐day leave each year. The Armed Forces Leave Act of 1946 continued to democratize military leaves by giving officers and troops equal amounts of annual leave and paying them for up to sixty days' accumulated leave when their term of service ended. in 1975, Congress rejected a General Accounting Office proposal to eliminate the financial incentive this second benefit gave to save rather than take leave after the Department of Defense argued that servicemen would lose an advantage still enjoyed by civilian federal employees.
[See also Army, U.S.; Citizen‐Soldier; Class and the Military; Navy, U.S.]
Jennifer D. Keene
"Leaves and Furloughs." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/leaves-and-furloughs
"Leaves and Furloughs." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved August 21, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/leaves-and-furloughs