JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Former Tech. Sgt. Travis Barrino from Morven, North Carolina, always felt a calling to be a pastor. As an active-duty chaplain’s assistant, however, he didn’t have the necessary education and experience qualifications for his dream job--to be a chaplain in the United States Air Force.
Barrino didn’t let that stop him. He followed his heart and enrolled in a Master of Divinity program at a local seminary while stationed at Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, England, taking one to two courses per semester.
Then in 2014, an email announcing a new Air Force program caught his eye--a program designed to allow Airmen the flexibility to manage short-term conflicts between service responsibilities and life priorities. The Air Force was accepting applications for the Career Intermission Program, or CIP.
“Here, God, was the answer to my prayers,” he recounted.
CIP offers Airmen the opportunity for a one-time temporary transition from active duty to the Individual Ready Reserve. The participation period is a minimum of one year, not to exceed three years, and provides a mechanism for seamless return to pre-CIP active-duty status. CIP also provides an effective means to enhance retention of Airmen by preserving their valuable experience and training that might otherwise be lost by permanent separation.
“I came home and told my wife and she said, ‘You’re crazy!’” he recalled. “But I said, ‘No, I think we can do this!’”
Barrino was one of the first Airmen to apply and be selected to participate in the program, and was able to attend seminary as a full-time student.
“It wasn’t just the schooling I needed,” he said. “I also needed the experience to be a chaplain and taking the time off active duty allowed me to become a pastor of a local church in Virginia to get that knowledge.”
An Airman’s potential to serve the Air Force in the future, including leadership, duty performance, professional development, depth and breadth of experience and achievements are all factors in evaluating applications. The Air Force also considers manning and mission requirements when evaluating applications for approval or disapproval.
Open to regular Air Force and career-status Active Guard and Reserve Airmen who meet the eligibility requirements, 113 Airmen have been selected to participate in the program since its inception in 2014. This work-life flexibility initiative enables the Air Force to retain talent, which reduces cost and adverse impacts on its mission.
After just two of the three years he requested in the program, the driven Airman had completed all the requirements for accession as an active-duty chaplain.
“I requested to return to active duty as soon as possible, since I had met my goals,” Barrino explained. “Once I was back, then I could apply to be a chaplain, so I really wanted to cut my CIP short.”
Program participants sign an agreement that says they will return to active duty in the same component from which they separated and serve two months of active duty for every month of CIP participation.
“The return to active duty was a little crazier for me than most because I was coming back and shortly after that transitioning from enlisted to officer,” Barrino said. “But overall, the process was so easy! The CIP management team at AFPC walked me clearly through everything to provide a successful transition back to active duty.”
Barrino attended Commissioned Officer Training in October 2017, followed by Chaplain training, and is now a fully qualified Air Force Chaplain who was recently selected for promotion to captain.
“The greatest thing about this CIP program is the Air Force allowed me to pursue my dream and now that dream is a reality,” he said.
First Lt. Barrino’s advice to those interested in CIP?
“Make sure you line up your ducks before you get out,” he said emphatically. “I didn’t, and it was only by God’s grace that everything came together.”
The application window for Cycle A is open each year from April 1 to May 13. Cycle B opens Aug. 1 to Sept. 12 and Cycle C runs from Dec. 1 to Jan. 12. Airmen with humanitarian circumstances may submit out-of-cycle CIP applications as well as dual-military married Airmen when a join spouse assignment cannot be supported, provided they meet CIP eligibility criteria.
Find additional information and eligibility requirements on the Career Intermission Program page of the Air Force’s Personnel Center public website under the Career tab.