Valerie Overstreet wanted to start a family, but it was complicated.

She was a Navy pilot and her naval officer husband was stationed in a different part of the country.

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, and her promotion to captain has been confirmed.

Across the military services, leaders are experimenting with programs that will give valued officers and enlisted troops, men and women, the incentive to stay.