A recent report from the Defense Department shows a bunch of stuff you and I already knew from experience -- but it does it with science, and it might actually be good for something.
The Military Family Life Project: Active Duty Spouse study examined through surveys the same set of active duty spouses three times -- 2010, 2011 and 2012. The latest report on the findings, published in March, pulls together the data from those surveys to draw conclusions about military life. Because it relied on spouses taking the time to answer the questions for three years, the final sample only includes about 6,400 people (even though the first survey had about 29,000 participants).
There are few (if any) surprises here. So what are the big findings? Here are just a few examples:
-- PCSing makes it hard to find work. "Of spouses who want to be enrolled in school but are not, 27.7 percent report that PCS moves prevent them from attending school/training," it says.
-- Having children at home makes a spouse less likely to have a job. "Regardless of PCS moves, spouses with children are less likely to be in the labor force (50.4 percent in labor force) than spouses without children (73.3 percent in labor force)," it says.
-- The more deployments their service members has done, the more likely spouses are to have depression and anxiety symptoms and children displaying problematic behaviors, and the more likely they are to want to be in school but not currently enrolled.
-- Those who are "satisfied" with military life are more likely to want to stay in. The same is true for areas like financial stability, child well being, employment status and stress level -- the better those things are, the more likely the spouse is to support her service member staying in.
So who is a survey that tells us all a bunch of really logical stuff we already know for, exactly? Lawmakers, that's who. Lawmakers like giving money to "evidence based" programs, and the only thing that provides the evidence for which they are looking is studies like this one.
"This report serves as evidence-based information, which will be used to help deliver the best network of support programs, and to know how challenges of military life impact families over time – it's data based on the entire population of military spouses, rather than on a population who might have political access or make a great news story," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a DoD spokesman. "The Military Family Life Project is the first large-scale, representative longitudinal DoD-wide survey of military families. The findings are based on the experiences of all military spouses."
So even though none of this is a surprise to any of us, it may be just when the DoD needs if they want to hang on to those programs (like employment support) that we like.