by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
18th Wing Public Affairs
6/24/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Being
in the U.S. military can be a tough balance between career and family.
For some, it comes down to a choice between the two; however, for former
U.S. Air Force Capt. Katie Evans, 18th Force Support Squadron manpower
and personnel flight commander, it's about keeping both.
Evans took a sabbatical from her U.S. Air Force career using the pilot
version of the Career Intermission Program, a program that offers a
limited number of enlisted and officer Airmen to temporarily separate
from their commitment to the U.S. Air Force for up to three years.
"I was pregnant when the program was announced," Evans said. "My son was born two days after the application window opened."
She started feeling incapable of performing at the level required of
officers due to the stress of her job and raising a family. Added to
that, she couldn't deploy, participate in exercises or perform physical
training while pregnant.
"My body was heavily stressed, sending me to the hospital several times
and landing my son in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 10 days
shortly after birth," she explained.
Upon return from maternity leave, breastfeeding consumed an average of up to three hours of her duty day.
"I didn't feel like I could actually do what the Air Force was paying me
to do," she said. "In addition to wanting to have a family and being
pregnant on active duty, being able to truly focus [upon return] on what
the Air Force is paying me to do is probably the biggest reason for me
to do this program.
"I missed meetings, briefings and important milestones for my [Airmen],"
she continued. "I could've separated in February 2016, and heavily
considered it, but now I don't have to choose between growing our family
and continuing to serve."
The personalist initially found out about the program through friends
and was one of the 20 officers selected for the highly competitive
"I think I was one of the 32 folks in the pilot group, because I have
maintained a consistent performance over the course of my career and
conveyed my strong desire to continue serving our country," Evans said.
"I am extremely blessed."
Forty Airmen, split equally between officer and enlisted, throughout the
entire Air Force were allowed to participate in the program. Out of
those, 32 are actually participating in the program.
"It's pretty much what your records look like as it meets the board," Evans explained.
"You don't get to talk to them, and you don't write a letter to them
other than the reason you want to take the sabbatical. So really, it's
whatever you have done in your career to this point that speaks for
The reasons submitted for the sabbatical by other participants were diverse.
"Some may think it's just 'mommy' leave; it's not," Evans said. "I would
recommend it to folks who would like to focus on a specific period of
their life for a time, whether it's a spiritual focus, where they might
want to do mission work or an education focus without trying to balance
deployments, families, exercises and temporary deployments and all their
With the military losing highly skilled individuals to early separation
incentives throughout the years, there was a notion to retain those who
only needed a short period in their lives to attain their goals.
"This is really for folks who would like to focus on a different part of
their life for a period of time but also feel they have more to
contribute to the Air Force and the mission," Evans said. "Recognizing
that whatever they take this break to do, what they learn to do,
whatever experiences they've had can be of huge value to the Air Force
when they come back."
Although the program offers a temporary release from duty, Airmen are
expected to repay double the time taken for the sabbatical.
"I requested two years," Evans said. "So, I will owe four when I get back."
Since she is now temporarily separated under CIP, the mother of one now goes by Mrs. Evans.
"It's a little nerve wracking for someone [who] served for 13 years
straight, put on the uniform every day, to introduce myself as Mrs.
instead of captain or Airman," she said. "It's a huge adjustment; I
already miss it, the people and being a part of the mission. It's tough
to step away from that, but I know I am coming back to it."