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Army Allows Three Years Off For Best Troops

To fight attrition rates, the U.S. Army will now permit its best troops to take up to three years off from the force.

The new policy applies to officers and top enlisted soldiers, Military.com reports. Army officials emphasized that the point of the Career Intermission Pilot Program (CIPP) is to allow troops the opportunity to pursue advanced educational opportunities, or focus on personal issues. Spots are limited. Only 20 officers and 20 enlisted troops can sign up every year. Once in the program, personnel will be placed in Inactive Ready Reserve status.

Participants receive two days of pay a month and can rely on the GI Bill for education costs.

“What we are looking for in this program this is to incentivize people who are able, well qualified, show potential for increased responsibility. … We are trying to get those folks — who also have challenges in personal life and professional development that can’t be met by the Army — to take a step back, go and achieve these things and come back to us,” Albert Eggerton, deputy chief of the Officer Division for Army G-1, told Military.com.

The Army isn’t the first service in the military to adopt the program. Instead, the Navy started immediately after obtaining permission from the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act, mostly because of attrition rates among female sailors. These female sailors cited “personal and family needs” as the main motivation for leaving the military.

The Marine Corps joined in 2013.

In July of 2014, the Air Force also announced its implementation of the same program.

“The key to the intermission program is the Airman’s return to duty,” said Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody. “Top performers with a bright future won’t be lost to premature separation, and upon return, those Airmen will bring greater experience, education, knowledge, commitment and passion to their career.”

Earlier this year, Capt. Shannon Williams, an Air Force Academy graduate, joined CIPP when she gave birth to her first child. Without the program, Williams likely would have left the Air Force altogether and already was frustrated at not being able to fly in her first and third trimester.

In the case of the Army, Staff Sgt. Mylinda DuRousseau applied for the program, in order to focus on her family and young daughter.

The main catch is that for each month out of the Army, personnel have to agree to two more months of service once the program ends.

Since CIPP is so new, the Army hasn’t seen much of a response. Currently only two officers and four soldiers are participating. A full report on CIPP’s effectiveness is set to be delivered to Congress in 2022.

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