There is no lack of reasons for why people choose to join the military. Their reasons for leaving the service can be just as plentiful. For many, their mental image of military service would be is quite different from their daily experiences. For others, life simply gets in the way and they have to make a choice.
It is approximated that 83% of service members leave the service prior to serving 20 years. That leaves a paltry 17% to stay with the service until their retirement. While it is true that there are less positions available for the higher ranking individuals, consider for a moment all of the talented minds, experienced planners, and strategic thinkers that are leaving the service. The loss cannot be quantified of course, but their losses have a potentially adverse effect on the development and retention for future service members.
In an attempt to stem the flow of quality people, the Army has opened up its doors to a program known as the Career Intermission Pilot Program (CIPP). Originally authorized in 2009, and previously utilized by the Navy, the CIPP is an opportunity for selected soldiers to take a break from the military to pursue alternate options for up to 36 months.
The program opened in 2014 by accepting nine applications for the program. Of those, six are currently still in the program, two officers and four enlisted soldiers. Congress is currently assessing the impact of expanding the program to approximately 400 available spots in the 2016 budget. The CIPP can be utilized for many purposes by the applicant. The first group utilized it to provide themselves with time to further their education without leaving the military, to care for a family member, to sync timelines as part of the dual military spouse program, explore the world or to complete individual goals and plans.
Under the current system, eligibility is limited to those who have completed their initial active duty service obligation and have no more than 17 years of service that can be computed towards their retirement. Enlisted service members must be in the rank of sergeant or above, and officers from year groups 1999 – 2011. Limitations include any service member who currently has a service obligation which may have been incurred as part of a bonus, choice of duty station, branch, or following their commissioning source.
If selected for the CIPP, service members will transition to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) where they will not be required to attend drill. They will be paid 1/15th of their military base pay. Service members will owe two months for every month spent in the CIPP program and members will not lose their promotion eligibility or individual professional development track.
While taking a break from military service for up to three years may not be for everyone, it may provide the time to make the choices and decisions in life which help a service member decide to stay in the military longer. This could be a valuable tool if properly employed by the services. With the current numbers, 90% of applicants were approved making it one of the most readily available programs, albeit one of the least known.
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