The program offered to soldiers that allows them to take a three-year break from service and still retain pay and benefits has been made permanent. The service announced the decision to continue the so-called Career Intermission Program (CIP) as a retention tool. Regular, reserve and National Guard soldiers can take advantage of it to “start families, take care of ailing parents, attend college,” or fulfill other needs, the service said in a May 17 announcement.
During their sabbaticals from service, soldiers can continue to collect monthly stipends amounting to two-thirtieths of their basic pay. They will continue to enjoy commissary and exchange privileges, and can carry 60 days of leave forward when they return to duty.
A version of program was put into effect as a pilot, through congressional authorization, in 2009. The Army implemented its own pilot five years later.
Soldiers who take advantage of CIP must pay back the time in a two-for-one ratio – meaning, they must serve two months for each single month they are on sabbatical. Special incentive pays and bonuses will be suspended during the duration of a CIP, to resume when soldiers return to duty.
“When a soldier runs into a personal issue or a desire to increase … civilian education, they don’t always find it amenable to do that on active duty,” Rowland Heflin, personal policy director for Army G-1, said. “[CIP] provides a way for them to be relieved from active duty, focus on their personal goals, and then return to active duty.”