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- Family and Medical Leave Act Advisor

Glossary of Military Terms Used in the FMLA


Contingency operation means a military operation that:

  1. is designated by the Secretary of Defense as an operation in which members of the Armed Forces are or may become involved in military actions, operations, or hostilities against an enemy of the United States or against an opposing military force; or
  2. results in the call or order to, or retention on, active duty of members of the uniformed services under section 688, 12301(a), 12302, 12304, 12305, or 12406 of Title 10 of the United States Code, chapter 15 of Title 10 of the United States Code, or any other provision of law during a war or during a national emergency declared by the President or Congress. See also § 825.126(a)(2).

Covered active duty or call to covered active duty status means:

  1. in the case of a member of the Regular Armed Forces, duty during the deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country; and,
  2. in the case of a member of the Reserve components of the Armed Forces, duty during the deployment of the member with the Armed Forces to a foreign country under a Federal call or order to active duty in support of a contingency operation under a provision of law referred to in section 101(a)(13)(B) of Title 10, United States Code. See also § 825.126(a).


Covered servicemember means:

  1. a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy, is otherwise in outpatient status, or is otherwise on the temporary disability retired list, for a serious injury or illness, or
  2. a covered veteran who is undergoing medical treatment, recuperation, or therapy for a serious injury or illness.


Covered veteran means an individual who was a member of the Armed Forces (including a member of the National Guard or Reserves), and was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable at any time during the five-year period prior to the first date the eligible employee takes FMLA leave to care for the covered veteran. See § 825.127(b)(2).


ITO or ITA, invitational travel order (ITO) or invitational travel authorization (ITA), are orders issued by the Armed Forces to a family member to join an injured or ill servicemember at his or her bedside. See also § 825.310(e).


Military caregiver leave means leave taken to care for a covered servicemember with a serious injury or illness under the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. See § 825.127.


Next of kin of a covered servicemember means the nearest blood relative other than the covered servicemember’s spouse, parent, son, or daughter, in the following order of priority: blood relatives who have been granted legal custody of the covered servicemember by court decree or statutory provisions, brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, unless the covered servicemember has specifically designated in writing another blood relative as his or her nearest blood relative for purposes of military caregiver leave under the FMLA. When no such designation is made, and there are multiple family members with the same level of relationship to the covered servicemember, all such family members shall be considered the covered servicemember’s next of kin and may take FMLA leave to provide care to the covered servicemember, either consecutively or simultaneously. When such designation has been made, the designated individual shall be deemed to be the covered servicemember’s only next of kin. See also § 825.127(d)(3).


Parent of a covered servicemember means a covered servicemember’s biological, adoptive, step or foster father or mother, or any other individual who stood in loco parentis to the covered servicemember. This term does not include parents “in law.” See also § 825.127(d)(2).


Reserve components of the Armed Forces, for purposes of qualifying exigency leave, include the Army National Guard of the United States, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard of the United States, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve, and retired members of the Regular Armed Forces or Reserves who are called up in support of a contingency operation. See also § 825.126(a)(2)(i).


Serious injury or illness means:

  1. In the case of a current member of the Armed Forces, including a member of the National Guard or Reserves, an injury or illness that was incurred by the covered servicemember in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces or that existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces and that may render the servicemember medically unfit to perform the duties of the member’s office, grade, rank, or rating; and
  2. In the case of a covered veteran, an injury or illness that was incurred by the member in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces (or existed before the beginning of the member’s active duty and was aggravated by service in the line of duty on active duty in the Armed Forces) and manifested itself before or after the member became a veteran, and is:
    1. A continuation of a serious injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated when the covered veteran was a member of the Armed Forces and rendered the servicemember unable to perform the duties of the servicemember’s office, grade, rank, or rating; or
    2. A physical or mental condition for which the covered veteran has received a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Service-Related Disability Rating (VASRD) of 50% or greater, and such VASRD rating is based, in whole or in part, on the condition precipitating the need for military caregiver leave; or
    3. A physical or mental condition that substantially impairs the covered veteran’s ability to secure or follow a substantially gainful occupation by reason of disability or disabilities related to military service, or would do so absent treatment; or
    4. An injury, including psychological injury, which is the basis on which the covered veteran has been enrolled in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. See also § 825.127(c).


Son or daughter of a covered servicemember means a covered servicemember’s biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom the covered servicemember stood in loco parentis, and who is of any age. See also § 825.127(d)(1).


Son or daughter on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status means the employee’s biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, legal ward, or a child for whom the employee stood in loco parentis, who is on covered active duty or call to covered active duty status, and who is of any age. See also § 825.126(a)(5).


TRICARE is the health care program serving active duty servicemembers, National Guard and Reserve members, retirees, their families, survivors, and certain former spouses worldwide.