What Do You Really Think? DoD Wants All Active-Duty Spouses to Answer a Survey

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Spouses at the Military Spouses Scavenger Hunt at Ramstein
Spouses stand at a supporting partners table at the Military Spouses Scavenger Hunt at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, May 7, 2021. (U.S. Air Force/Airman 1st Class Alexcia Givens)

The Defense Department wants to hear from every active-duty spouse for its biennial survey to understand the impact of military life on families.

The Pentagon announced last week that the complete Active Duty Spouse Survey will be available to an invited sampling of the more than 650,000 husbands and wives of active-duty military personnel.

But this year, officials also are asking all spouses to give their feedback on various topics that include spouse employment, child-care services, military lifestyle and overall satisfaction through a different, shorter version of the survey available through the Department of Defense Office of People Analytics.

In 2019, the survey was sent to 65,207 participants -- or roughly 10% of all active-duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force spouses, and more than 10,000 replied meaning roughly 17% replied.

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Officials said they would like to see more participation as the responses are used to guide policies and programs for military families.

"These surveys will allow us to engage in deeper dialogue with them and help us prioritize solutions that meet their most pressing needs," said Patty Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy, in a press release last week.

The 2019 survey provided some critical data on spouse employment, job seeking and child-care availability that has influenced legislation and policy changes on the transferability of professional licenses and spouse hiring, explained Paul Rosenfeld, director of the Center for Retention and Readiness in Office of People Analytics.

"Hearing the voice of all military spouses is critical for gaining the insight the DOD needs to deliver on its priority to help military families thrive," Rosenfeld said in a statement.

The 2019 survey, taken before the COVID-19 pandemic, showed that more active-duty spouses reported satisfaction with their military lifestyles but the amount of stress they experienced had increased by three percentage points over 2017 with 54% of spouses rating their stress as more than usual in 2019.

The survey also found that stress was highest among Navy and Marine Corps spouses as well as unemployed spouses. The survey also showed that the unemployment rate for military spouses was 22% -- slightly lower than it was in 2017 at 24%.

Among the barriers to employment that spouses reported in the survey was child care: Roughly 14% said child care was too expensive to justify working, and 48% of those who said they would like to enroll in school or vocational training said the cost of child care prevented them from enrolling.

The survey also asks questions about military benefits, financial stability and overall health and well being.

The survey will be available through the Department of Defense Office of People Analytics portal through October.

Results of this year’s survey, which will include questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, are not expected to be released until winter of 2022.

Spouses who receive a ticket number via email or by mail are part of the random scientific sampling and will take a longer survey that lasts about 15 minutes. All other spouses should click on the "Click Here" icon below the "Don't have a Ticket Number?" question to complete a shorter version.

According to DoD, the responses are confidential and personal information is not linked to survey responses to ensure that spouses feel comfortable answering questions.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

Related: Loneliness, Unemployment Among Top Concerns for Military Spouses, Survey Finds

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