Published January 12, 2014
"For women to have a family and a career, it's just extremely difficult. And, being in the military, it is extra sacrifice, you have deployments, you have workups, and it just makes it that much more challenging," she said. "The Marine Corps is a lifestyle, it's not a job. You dress it, you eat it, you breathe it, you live it. For me, I want to focus on getting married."
CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Navy Cmdr. Valerie Overstreet wanted to start a family. But her job as a Navy pilot and the fact that she and her husband, also a naval officer, were stationed in different parts of the country made it complicated.
So she decided to take advantage of a fledgling Navy program that allowed her to take a year off and return to duty without risking her career or future commands.
Now, three years later, she's got a 2-year-old daughter and a 9-month old son, she's back at work at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and her promotion to captain has been confirmed.
For Overstreet, the year off gave her precious time to have her daughter and get started on her master's degree. The Navy retains an officer it considers promising without requiring her to sacrifice her family life.
Across the military services, leaders are experimenting with programs that will give valued officers and enlisted troops, men and women, the incentive to stay. Also, as the Pentagon moves to bring women into more jobs closer to the combat zone, military officials believe it is crucial to keep midcareer female officers in the services so they can mentor those on the front lines.
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