A Sailor’s Experience with Career Intermission Program

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By Lt. Michael FonbuenaLt. Michael Fonbuena

The Career Intermission Program, which originally began as a small-scale pilot, has afforded me the opportunity to seek out an advanced degree at a prestigious university of my choosing while also allowing me the ability to continue my career in the naval service. Overall, I have had an extremely positive experience with CIP and feel that the Navy should strongly advertise this program to junior officers as an alternative means of obtaining graduate education.

As I was midway through my shore tour, I found myself debating a question which many junior officers often find themselves debating: Should I stay in or should I get out? There are many factors which weigh in to such a decision: financial, professional, family, etc. For me, however, the most important factor was the ability to obtain a quality graduate education that aligned with both my academic and professional interests. After researching the options available to me through the Navy, I became extremely discouraged by the lack of diversity in educational opportunities. (To be fair, I was not ready to sign JCSRB at the end of my second sea tour which limited my opportunities, but I feel that can be said of many junior officers who need to experience a shore tour before they are ready to make such a critical decision.)

The only option which truly aligned with my interests was the Pol-Mil Master’s Program.  However, the timing was not likely to work as it would put me at department head school past the seven and a half year mark; also there is only one applicant accepted to a two-year Master’s program each year. One applicant – this is a huge disservice to the Naval Officer Corps. Needless to say, I was discouraged at the opportunities available to me. Then, I discovered CIP after many hours of online searching, and it immediately peaked my interest. The main draw was the ability to continue my career as a department head while also being afforded the opportunity to obtain a Master’s degree of my choosing at an institution of my choosing.

Overall, I have had an extremely positive experience while participating in this program. I have been able to see what life outside of the military is like, I have been re-invigorated by the educational opportunities which have been presented to me, and I feel I have gained many valuable skills which are not traditionally gained in Navy graduate programs and will serve both myself and the Navy well in the long run.  Below are some thoughts on CIP:

Positives:

  • Ability to obtain the degree I desired at a university of my choosing
  • Obtained diverse skills which will be valuable to myself and the Navy in the long run
  • Allowed to use Post 9/11 GI Bill and retained medical/dental benefits
  • Eliminates timing issues regarding career progression

Negatives:

  • Stipend not substantial enough to make sufficient impact in day-to-day life
  • Program not well known to service members
  • Unable to collect YCS 6 JCSRB payment due to program restrictions

Suggestions:

  • Heavily advertise CIP to junior officers, particularly as an alternative vehicle to obtain graduate education
  • Increase the monthly stipend to approximately 1/5 of base pay to create a larger incentive for participation in CIP
  • Develop partnerships with academic institutions to help junior officers get accepted to top-tier Master’s programs while participating in CIP
  • Remove the restriction that do not allow participants to receive CSRB; at minimum, make it so junior officers could retroactively receive any payments they otherwise would be ineligible for because of the existing clause making it ineligible for individuals to participate in CIP while under CSRB. This might make sense in some context, but not for junior officers, who should be primary target group of CIP
  • Work to place members in a position applicable to the Master’s Degree they obtain during CIP – for example, if someone goes to Wharton to obtain their M.B.A., place them in a financial position at the Pentagon immediately upon return to active duty; if a person goes to Harvard Kennedy School to obtain their M.P.P., place them in an OLA or Pol-Mil billet. This will not only leverage the ideas obtained during their studies but also advance the service member professionally and validate them academically.

This has been an extremely valuable program, and I feel that it should be largely expanded from its current scope. It provides the Navy the opportunity to tap into a segment of junior officers who would be extremely valuable to the Navy long-term but might otherwise separate due to a lack of educational opportunities.  I would further recommend the Navy conduct an extensive survey in order to discover what percentage of junior officers across all levels would be encouraged to stay if given the chance to participate in CIP and what would encourage their participation.


Editor’s note: Lt. Michael Fonbuena graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in history in 2007. At sea, he served as Electro/Auxo in USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and DCA in USS Benfold (DDG 65), ashore he served as a gas turbine assessor for Engineering Assessments Pacific in San Diego, Calif. He is currently a Master’s of Public Policy candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles and was awarded the Torang Jahan Fellowship for Globalization Studies.

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A Sailor’s Experience with Career Intermission Program

LSP Preparing Marines for Higher Education

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A Marine supervises from the center of The Basic School permanent personnel battalion during a 10-mile hike aboard the westside of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2013. This was the first hike The Basic School has done for regimental physical training in the last 3 years. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le/Released)

A Marine supervises from the center of The Basic School permanent personnel battalion during a 10-mile hike aboard the westside of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., June 28, 2013. This was the first hike The Basic School has done for regimental physical training in the last 3 years. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cuong Le/Released)

Ensuring quality education and admission support from institutions of higher learning is crucial to a smooth transition.  There are many programs available outside of government but the military services are also interested in developing complimentary programs for those veterans wishing to compete and place through traditional school admissions processes. The Marine Corps created the Leadership Scholar Program (LSP) to assist exiting Marines gain admission to colleges and universities for their desired undergraduate program.

Marines who are selected into the program are given top-notch support throughout the transition and admission process.  This support includes assisting Marines in the application process, coordinating interviews with admission officers, providing consistent updates on application status, and offering a single point of contact to answer any and all questions.  Sgt. Michael Liao will be separating in June and thanks to the LSP will be attending Princeton University.  He stated, “The Leadership Scholar Program plays a critical role by advocating on behalf of Marines, to college admissions boards.”  Many times it can be difficult for service members to portray all the experiences and expertise gained while serving to an admissions board.  LSP takes an active approach to giving Marines an opportunity to communicate these unique skills in person.

Another aspect of LSP is a partnership with colleges and universities.  When a college or university signs on to participate in the Leadership Scholar Program they are committing to secure acceptance of qualified applicants.  Through this partnership the colleges/universities provide the LSP with all necessary admission requirements, timelines, academic criteria, and reporting instructions.  Relationships built between the Marine Corps and these institutions provide an avenue for Marines to receive dedicated admission support and interviews when needed.

To be eligible to participate in the LSP, Marines must be high school graduates and possess a minimum combined score of a 70 on the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) and a General Technical (GT) score of 115 or higher.  Applicants are screened to ensure they meet the requirements of the institution to which they wish to apply and then forwarded to the admissions office for a final decision.  Marines usually start the LSP application process at least 12 months before leaving active duty. 

Through these efforts the admissions process is less daunting as LSP acts as the conduit to helping Marines navigate into the school do their choice.  Former Marine, Joseph Prive speaks of his LSP experience, “I attended a few LSP-sponsored meetings with admissions counselors from elite universities, and I then realized that even I could be a successful student, pursue my interests, and enjoy it.  LSP provided me with direction, encouragement and confidence when I needed it the most.”  Currently, the LSP has over 238 institutions in 45 States and the District of Columbia participating, with a long range goal of having at least two colleges/universities in each State.  These partners recognize that a Marine’s experience while in the military make them well-suited for success in an academic environment.

Get more information on the Leadership Scholar Program

Rosye Cloud is Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors, and Military Families

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LSP Preparing Marines for Higher Education

A Little Bit of Blood Goes a Long Way

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base hosts an Armed Services Blood Program blood drive.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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A Little Bit of Blood Goes a Long Way

Sexual Assault: Not in My Navy

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By Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Photo: Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Vice Adm. Matthew L. Nathan, U.S. Navy surgeon general and chief, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

Many of you are familiar with my philosophy of “Ship, Shipmate and Self.” In the Navy and Marine Corps, we ensure the mission is accomplished, we watch out for our comrades and we must take care of ourselves. When it comes to preventing and stopping sexual assault, the same applies. Sexual assault strikes at the dignity, health, and welfare of our people, it erodes trust and cohesion, and it undermines the readiness of our force. Together, we must combat sexual assault crimes.

April marks Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. During this month, Navy Medicine will focus its efforts on awareness and prevention of sexual violence through command-level education and special events. Sexual assault prevention is a priority year-round, but this month I want talk to stress what Navy Medicine is doing to tackle this issue and how we must come together to prevent sexual assault every day of the year.

While we work to eliminate this crime from our service, we will continue to care for the victims when these unfortunate incidents do occur. It is crucial we support the sexual assault victim and hold offenders accountable. When a victim tells us that they have been sexually assaulted, we believe them and protect their privacy. We must create safe environments free from sexual assault and harassment.

Navy Medicine is committed to the quality of care we provide to victims.  We’re increasing the capability to provide timely, readily accessible medical-forensic examinations (Sexual Assault Forensic Examination – SAFE). Last month, we made revisions to Navy Medicine policy establishing training requirements for health care providers to conduct SAFE examinations. Standardized SAFE increases capability and improves the patient experience. Standardization also allows for consistent evidence collection and reporting whether it is at one of our military treatment facilities at home or in a forward-deployed operational area.

Recent sexual assault prevention and response program changes have also resulted in increased access for patients and improved readiness for our Navy Medicine providers. Specifically, as a result of the recent SAFE policy update, our Regional Commanders are ensuring the availability of sexual assault medical response capability 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all our service members. Navy Medicine Regional Commanders are also in the process of appointing a Regional Sexual Assault Program Manager to ensure that the Department of Defense standard of care of sexual assault victims is met at the local medical command level.

Awareness and support of those affected by sexual assault is critical, but prevention is vital. We are leaders at every level, and I expect you to exert compassionate and intrusive leadership to stamp out anything that fosters a condition where sexual assaults could occur. Look into any trends or occurrences of sexual assault, unwanted behavior, or on-duty or off-duty atmosphere where trouble can arise. We also need to pay attention to the use and prevent the abuse of alcohol. In many case, alcohol is a contributing factor in sexual assaults.

Every command has access to a sexual assault response coordinator for witnesses and/or victims to report issues. Don’t be that person shaking their head after the fact saying “I saw this coming and I didn’t do enough to prevent it.”

I take this issue very seriously, and I expect you to do the same. We will be a stronger military, a stronger Navy and a stronger Navy Medicine enterprise as we stand together to combat sexual assault crimes.

Somewhere out there is a young man or woman who is considering either joining, or staying in our Navy. As they consider the pros and cons for themselves, one of them must never ever be fear of sexual assault or inappropriate sexual behavior. Not in my Navy! Not in our Navy!

I am so very proud of the work you do each day. Let’s lead together to a Navy that sets the example in honor, courage, and commitment. Thank you for your service and as always, it is my honor and privilege to serve as your surgeon general.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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Sexual Assault: Not in My Navy

Midshipmen Shine Light on Life as Military Kids

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Photo: Navy full back Noah Copeland rushes during the 113th Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec.8, 2012. The Navy won 17-13, extending their winning streak against Army for the 11th straight year. D0D Photo by Marvin Lynchard

Navy full back Noah Copeland rushes during the 113th Army-Navy game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pa., Dec.8, 2012. The Navy won 17-13, extending their winning streak against Army for the 11th straight year. (D0D photo by Marvin Lynchard/released)

Story by: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Niegel, Defense Media Activity

Edited by Erin Wittkop

As we wrap up “Month of the Military Child,” I would like to reflect on the unique lives of military kids. Military children come from all walks of life and make a pretty fantastic contribution to our country as a result of their unique experiences.

These kids are faced with some major life challenges beginning at young ages. They have to deal with being separated from their parents for extended periods of time, not knowing if their mom or dad is safe, frequent moves and an ever-changing social landscape as they enroll in new schools and work to make new friends. Whether their parents joined after their birth or they were born to active-duty military parents, military kids own life stories begin to branch out in new and worldly ways the moment their parents don a uniform.

I recently had the chance to interview a few military children whose lives have been shaped by their parents’ service. They aren’t your average military kids, though; these “children” are students attending the United States Naval Academy and are players on the Navy Midshipmen football team.

These three athletes grew up as military children, yet came from different backgrounds and established their association with military life at different junctures in their lives.

“My dad wasn’t always gone but he left to Korea when I first started playing flag football; that was kind of hard. As a young kid you really don’t understand why your dad left,” said Midshipman Noah Copeland. “I didn’t understand anything he did until later on when I grew up.”

When Copeland was old enough to realize what his dad was doing and why he grew to have a greater admiration for his father and what he did for the family.

“Seeing my dad wake up early and come home really late, working those long hours just to provide for us, made me appreciate him more. Looking at it now [and reflecting on the person I’ve become], I appreciate him a lot more for everything that he did [to help me get where I am today].”

Coming from a different background and part of the country, Midshipman Shakir Robinson was a little different.

“I caught the tail end of my dad’s military career” Robinson said “[As a result of his military background,] my dad expected higher standards of me.”

Even though he had only spent a few years as a military child he still came out with a strong sense of respect and high expectations for himself, qualities that most would find exceptional for a person his age. I noticed this difference during the interview. Robinson carries himself with a poise that alludes to the reverence with which he regards service, duty, tradition and helping others. His teammates had it, too.

“It’s made me have a greater respect for people in the military,” Robinson added. He is inspired by the level of love that service members have for their country and the personal sacrifices that they are willing to make like being away from their families during deployments.

With a little more time as a military child, Midshipman Joe Cardona’s dad had to miss special occasions while he was going up.

“It was hard not having him there for football practices and sports practices. My mom was real strong; she just made everything normal for us,” Cardona said.

Despite the fact that his dad wasn’t always there for practices and events, Cardona still holds his dad in the highest regard.

“My military hero would be my dad. The way he balanced his military career with raising a family, I think that is something that I will always treasure and something that I will take as an example to try to set and to follow,” said Cardona.

After speaking with these military kids and soon-to-be service members, I have found a new respect for military children. There are not many kids in the world that have to deal with the unique stressors that military kids do and it’s amazing to see how resilient they become as result of it all. The strong bonds that they forge with their families and the values that they hold dear are awe inspiring.

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Disclaimer: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the Department of Defense of this website or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation sites, the Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. Such links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of this DoD website.

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