A Penn State Applied Research Center

Photo collage of military families

The Department of Defense surveys active-duty military spouses every two years to understand and track spouses’ experiences of military life, including measures of employment, relationships, child well-being, finances, PCS moves and deployments. On average, spouses have reported improvements in each of these key components of military life, compared to previous surveys. You may download from Military OneSource a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the latest findings here: http://www.militaryonesource.mil/footer?content_id=293017

Below are highlights of some of the findings of this latest military spouse survey. In each case, the numbers reported are improvements over those reported in previous surveys:

  • Of the 66% of all spouses who said they were in the labor force, 27% say it takes 10 months or more to find work after a PCS move. Nonetheless, spouse unemployment rates were lower in 2015 compared to the numbers reported in the 2010 survey.
  • A total of 64% is satisfied with military life, with 36% indicating they are dissatisfied or are undecided. However, 20% of spouses still favor having their partners leave the military, and an additional 14% are undecided.
  • Spouses report their financial condition as comfortable at a rate of 72%, with 28% saying they are uncomfortable or having some difficulties. Additionally, 17% said they have had a serious financial problem over the last 12 months (i.e., failed to make minimum payments on credit cards, multiple overdraft fees, bounced checks, utility shutoffs, missed car payments, behind on rent or mortgage, repossessions, or filed for personal bankruptcy).
  • Military spouses report they are satisfied with their marriage at a rate of 85%, with 7% indicating they are dissatisfied, and 8% undecided. On average, military spouses score lower at a rate of 1.4, on the Marital Instability Index (MII), when compared to their civilian spouse counterparts, who average 1.9. Lower MII scores indicated greater marriage stability.
  • Reported problems experienced by spouses related to deployments are decreased, as are the rates of difficulties experienced during reintegration, compared to previous reports.

These findings underscore the importance of current DoD programs designed to support military families by reducing spouse employment difficulties, overcoming transition issues, improving financial readiness, decreasing stress, and improving the overall emotional well-being of military families. The Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State can help these efforts by providing the right tools and information to professionals serving military families. We have reviewed the evidence base behind over 1,000 programs. Click here to try our interactive, searchable database: https://www.continuum.militaryfamilies.psu.edu/search Additionally, our Technical Assistance team stands ready to help you find, implement, and evaluate evidence-based programs and practices. Technical assistance agents may be reached through live chat, phone 1-877-382-9185, or email Monday through Friday from 9 AM until 5 PM ET.