WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 12, 2014) – Need some time off to care for a sick or elderly parent or young child? Want to finish that degree by going full-time? Been dreaming of climbing the Alps, but need an extended vacation?
The Career Intermission Pilot Program, or CIPP, may be a Soldier’s best opportunity to do those or any number of other things, said Albert S. Eggerton, deputy chief, Officer Division, G-1.
The pilot program gives Soldiers a chance “to take a step back from the Army without having to go through the normal, very complex procedures of separating from the service,” he said.
CIPP is targeted for only the “best performers,” he said, “people we’ve invested money in who’ve shown they have an affinity for service and who will be performers in the future.”
These are Soldiers who “have challenges or desires in their lives that can’t be met within the rigid framework of the Army” and the Army wants to keep them, he said, meaning that CIPP could become a useful retention tool.
Up to a total of 20 officers and 20 enlisted per year in the regular Army, Army Reserve and Active Guard/Reserve will be able to take up to three years in the Individual Ready Reserve, with the stipulation that they return when their sabbatical or extended sabbatical ends.
It’s not a full-pay sabbatical, however. Soldiers will get paid “two times 1/30th” of their base pay, according to Military Personnel Message 14-143, which describes CIPP in detail.
Although Soldiers will not receive most of their salary and will not be eligible for Servicemembers Group Life Insurance and Tuition Assistance during that period, Eggerton said they’ll still be able to use Tricare and certain privileges like shopping at the commissary and Exchange.
CIPP also comes with a service extension obligation of two months for every month spent in the pilot.
There are a number of disqualifiers listed in MILPER message 14-143, including the stipulation that Soldiers must have completed their initial active-duty obligation and not have been identified for deployment or in receipt of permanent change-of-station orders.
Application packages must arrive at Human Resources Command by Sept. 1, 2014. The start day for the program is June 1, 2015. As with any program, Eggerton advised doing the paperwork sooner, rather than later.
Eggerton said Human Resources Command has so far only received one package, although there have been a number of inquiries, so he expects interest to pick up over the summer and as word spreads.
Authority for CIPP comes from the 2009 Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act. Eggerton said the authority lasts only until Dec. 31, 2015, but he thinks the act could be extended a few more years since there’s bipartisan interest in helping service members.
Eggerton said some of the inquiries received from the Navy‘s similar program have been for mounting an Alpine climbing expedition.