If you had the opportunity to take a three year sabbatical to pursue professional and personal ambitions outside of your every day work, would you do it? It’s the kind of opportunity generally only afforded to college professors with tenure. Thanks to a new military program, some members of the Armed Forces will have the opportunity to do just that – take a one-to-three year partially paid break-in-service to care for children, attend university or pursue another interest.

Military Times recently published the story of Cpt Shannon Williams. An Air Force Academy graduate and C-21 pilot, Williams will have the opportunity many moms only dream of – put her job as a pilot on hiatus and spend the next year years caring for her new daughter. It’s possible thanks to the Air Force’s Career Intermission Program. It’s one of nine initiatives highlighted March 4 by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. The first CIP class includes 32 airmen. The majority are taking time for school, but several, like Williams, will use the time to start a family.

The Navy has a similar program. The Career Intermission Pilot Program was launched in 2009 and updated in 2013. It allows up to 20 officers and 20 enlisted sailors the opportunity to take a sabbatical from military service.

Sabbatical = Sound Investment

The program isn’t open to everyone, and applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis. In 2013 the Air Force cited a fighter pilot shortage and started paying a hefty bonus to retain pilots. Figures show it costs anywhere from $1 million to $1.5 million to train a military pilot. The military, just like any industry, understands the significant operational cost in having to retrain personnel.

Work-life Balance – What’s That?

The program isn’t geared toward new moms, but it is one of many initiatives that seeks to make the military a more welcoming career for women. Unlike days past, when women would have been less likely to pursue military careers because of the difficulty in balancing work and family, initiatives such as CIP help women launch both a family and an Armed Forces career. It’s just one example of an employer looking to make balancing work and family a little easier. Earlier this month Vodafone announced it would be offering all women at least 16 weeks of paid maternity leave. The move  by Vodafone isn’t entirely selfless. When asked the reasoning, they cited retention as a key factor. If you have great employees, it’s best to keep them.


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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer