Yesterday, I read a thought-provoking article in USAToday written by Navy wife Katherine Chretien. Katherine argued that the military should work to reform a system which calls for frequent moves in order to improve the quality of life for military families.
[O]ne way to substantially improve the quality of life among military families is missing: Change the antiquated practice of mandating frequent — every two or three years — moves of its servicemembers. In this regard, the military needs a 21st century makeover.She goes on to discuss the psychological impact of these moves on military children.
Frequent moves also place undue stress on children. Ask any adult who grew up as a military "brat" about the anxiety that consumed the family when moving orders arrived. Children who experienced frequent moves report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being as adults. Such teenagers have higher suicide rates. All this has resulted in an increasing number of servicemembers opting to become geo-bachelors for one or multiple assignments. Or leaving the military altogether.I didn't see the data source which supports this claim, and I don't have children so I certainly can't speak to how frequent moves impact military children, but I found her piece interesting. Interesting, though I don't agree with her proposal.
The military will argue that frequent moves are necessary for many reasons, most of which Katherine touched on; "meeting the needs of the service, professional development of the service member, changes in mission and individual preference." These seem sensible reasons to me. She goes on to suggest a new system which would address the concerns of the military, which you can read in the article.
Katherine states that "the military's current structure does not support dual-career families." I can't argue with this statement. While efforts are underway to improve the career prospects of military spouses, the honest truth is that many of us will never be in an ideal situation with respect to long-term employment. Our resumes will often be longer than our children's Christmas list and have as many holes as a slice of swiss cheese. As understandably dispiriting as it is for many military spouses, this is -- and always will be -- part of the sacrifice.
Rather than clinically analyzing Katherine's points, I had more of a personal, gut reaction. I tried to imagine what my life would look like if my family had been more static throughout the years. Although I'm the first to admit, my husband will have to drag me kicking and screaming from our current duty station this summer, I can't deny the rewards my family has reaped due to our many, many moves. Namely, the non-tangible rewards. Things like exploring and discovering a new area, living in all sorts of dwellings from small apartments to larger houses and meeting and making new friends. And I wouldn't have all those funny stories to share with people, either. For me, these things have brought more blessings than stress. Much more.
As much as we tend to gripe about PCS season, and even knowing that it is incredibly stressful on the family unit, in the end, frequent moves are part of our culture. What say you, would you be a proponent for limiting military moves, or do you like the transient nature of military life?