More than one-quarter of military families said they would steer relatives away from the armed forces, due to what they said was poor leadership and systemic challenges to those who serve, such as a lack of spousal employment opportunities.
A just-released poll from Blue Star Families, a nonprofit advocacy group, said 37% of those surveyed would recommend military service, citing good benefits and economic stability, while 35% were neutral on the topic.
“This year’s survey underscores that, as a nation, we must do better to support our military families because healthier and stable military families result in a stronger and more united America,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families. “It’s time for policymakers, national leaders and the philanthropic community to work together to support the best interests of those who sacrifice so much for our country.”
The survey said 44% of active-duty service members were most concerned about military pay while fully half of the spouses pointed to difficulties finding a job, due to factors such as frequent moves.
Military troops at 42% and their spouses, 45%, cited time spent away from the family as the second-most pressing concern.
The survey was conducted from May to July, with Blue Star Families working in partnership with the D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.
Military spouses report unemployment levels up to four times greater than their civilian counterparts, 21% to 6%, and the disparity is even greater for active-duty spouses of color at 27%. The expense of child care was particularly of concern to military spouses seeking employment, Blue Star Families said.
Families said they also were worried about financial and food insecurity, military housing and the need for mental health support, according to the survey.
• Mike Glenn can be reached at email@example.com.
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