Service members, veterans becoming less likely to recommend military service, survey finds – The Virginian-Pilot

Service members and veterans are less likely to recommend joining the military to family and friends than they were two years ago, according to survey results released Thursday by the Military Family Advisory Network.

“That, for us, was concerning,” said Shannon Razsadin, executive director of MFAN, a nonprofit advocacy group. “I think it’s the people living this life that’s having a hard time.”

Around 63% of respondents said they would recommend the military – a drop from around 75% in the 2019 survey. The reason for the drop could be related to additional survey data which found that more than half of military families lead average or poor lives. family well-being, she said.

“It’s a really important thing that should grab people’s attention and make sure we focus on the whole family,” said Razsadin, the wife of a navy officer. “People who do this and live this life, it’s because of a patriotic sense of duty and responsibility to serve. The reality is that this life is hard, and we can’t rely on that to be the only thing that helps us maintain and develop all-volunteer strength.

The findings are part of the Network’s 2021 Military Family Support Programs Survey, which is conducted every two years to better understand a range of support needs for military and veteran families. The survey was conducted online between October and December, with 8,638 people taking part, according to the report on its findings.

Respondents, who were either military personnel, veterans or their spouses, came from all 50 states and Washington, DC, two US territories and 22 countries.

This year, the researchers introduced a family health scale into the survey, which is a measure of the well-being of a family unit. It uses 10 questions that measure family relationships, health care, finances and housing to create a wellbeing score. According to the survey report, about 59% of families reported having moderate or poor health.

“These results paint a clear picture; the well-being of military and veteran families is linked to satisfaction with health care, family relationships, financial well-being, housing, food insecurity, and the military community,” according to the report.

The findings come as the military weathered a tough year to meet recruiting and retention goals and increased enlistment bonuses and relaxed some regulations such as its tattoo policy to attract new recruits. The Army has been particularly challenged to recruit, in part because it is the largest of the military services, said Sgt. Army Maj. Michael Grinston.

Negative attention on military housing and other quality of life issues is also likely impacting people’s willingness to enlist or re-enlist, among other factors, he said last month. .

“I think that’s one of the things that hurts the military,” Grinston said, specifically mentioning the negative coverage of military family housing. “We are reluctant to see or read a positive quality of life story.

In 2018, Reuters reported on the hazardous conditions military families faced in base housing, including mold growth, toxic exposure, lead-based paint and asbestos, infestations of pests and rodents and water and sewage problems. Many conditions were exacerbated by poor or slow response to maintenance requests. Congress has since stepped in, issuing reforms to try to tackle the problems.

The MFAN survey shows that more than half of respondents living in privatized military housing were satisfied with their landlord’s responsiveness to repair issues. It also revealed that poor base housing was the most cited reason for choosing to live off base since 2019. People also noted that a lack of housing forced them to live off base. the base.

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Meanwhile, the survey found that more than 60% of military and veteran families are paying more than they can comfortably afford for housing. This happens when housing represents more than 30% of household income, according to the report.

“There is a relationship between family well-being and housing burden. Families that were not overburdened with housing were much more likely to have excellent family well-being than those who were overburdened with housing,” according to the report.

This divide is seen particularly among the officers and enlisted ranks, Razsadin said.

“The reality is, whether you’re an enlisted or an officer, you always need a roof over your head,” she said. “At the end of the day, it comes down to funding and compensation.”

Among the five recommendations that the MFAN offered to the military in its report was a call for the services to “adjust” the housing allowance paid to the military. When families struggle to afford housing, it has a ripple effect in other areas. They are more vulnerable to food insecurity and may lack the resources to pay for leisure activities or trips to visit family.

“I think these things are all connected,” Razsadin said. “We see people having to choose between paying for housing or paying for food. The fact that (housing allowance) and even some of the other allowances like (cost of living adjustment) have not kept pace with the reality of families’ needs is really problematic, and I think that’s a key component of a lot of these areas.

Other recommendations based on the survey were to increase the availability of health care and mental health appointments, increase the availability of childcare, reduce barriers to savings, and to conduct further research on the well-being of military families. Further studies would show which programming changes could have the biggest impact, the report says.

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