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Active-Duty Spouse Survey Helps DOD Shape Family Policy, Programs 

The biennial Survey of Active-Duty Spouses is now available for the nearly 600,000 Defense Department active-duty spouses to complete.

A civilian holds a child clutching a rose while kissing a sailor's cheek.
Loving Arms
A sailor reunites with family after returning to Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., Jan. 15, 2024, following a more than eight-month deployment.
Photo By: Navy Chief Petty Officer Brian M. Brooks
VIRIN: 240115-N-YM590-1257M

The survey has new, expanded sections on remote work and financial well-being.  

It's the only official DOD-wide survey for active-duty spouses. Input collected through this survey will provide the department with a barometer on how to adjust policies and programs to address the needs of military families in the U.S. and abroad, said Lee Kelley, principal director for the Department's Military Community and Family Policy Office. 

Past surveys have helped create data-driven policies with immediate impact for military families, she said.  

For example, in 2021, active-duty spouses reported that frequent, permanent change-of-station moves, child care and spouse employment were among the biggest challenges active-duty families face, Kelley said.  

President Joe Biden sits at a desk flanked by a standing, applauding crowd, including the first lady.
Bidens at Fort Liberty
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden attend an event at Fort Liberty, N.C., June 9, 2023, to announce new actions to ensure the nation's military and veteran spouses, caregivers and survivors have an opportunity to build economic security for their families.
Photo By: Courtesy White House Twitter
VIRIN: 230609-D-D0439-101

According to that survey, 21% of spouses were unemployed in 2021, a statistic mentioned in President Joe Biden's Executive Order 14100, released on June 15, 2023 ( That executive order, which was based on survey results, listed various steps the administration has taken to address military family needs, she said.  

To address spouse employment concerns, the Defense-State Liaison Office worked with state legislators to remove occupational licensing barriers to help spouses maintain employability after a PCS move, Kelley said.  

In January 2023, the department introduced the Military Spouse Career Accelerator Pilot, a 12-week, competitive, paid fellowship with industry. Several new programs address PCS and child care challenges, including a tax-saving, dependent-care flexible spending program, enacted in November, to ease the cost of child care for active-duty families, she said.  

A family poses for a picture.
Family Pose
Military spouse Danielle Calabrese poses in a photo with her three children and her husband, Navy Capt. Dario Calabrese. Danielle Calabrese re-entered the workforce after 15 years through the DOD Military Spouse Career Accelerator program, which got her a fellowship that led to a full-time job.
Photo By: Courtesy Danielle Calabrese
VIRIN: 230522-O-D0439-042C

In an earlier survey, a junior enlisted spouse shared that "…the amount that the lower ranks are getting paid isn't enough to support a family of three. With the amount he's getting paid, we can barely pay bills and have some money to buy groceries for a week and then struggle for another week until he gets paid again." 

The DOD implemented a 4.6% basic pay increase in 2023 for all service members; and proposed pay raise of 5.2% for 2024, which if enacted, will translate into more than a 10% basic pay raise over two years. The Department also increased the non-taxable basic allowance for housing an average of 12.1%, addressing significant increases in rental housing costs across the country. In addition, the DOD increased the non-taxable basic allowance for subsistence by 11.2%. These increases have resulted in an average overall increase in cash compensation of 7.1% for service members in 2023. 

People mill around a table near a banner that says, “Military Spouse Employment Partnership.”
Military Spouse Employment Partnership
The Military Spouse Employment Partnership held its annual Engage event in Arlington, Va., Oct. 25, 2022. The event is a recruitment and employment initiative that provides companies and employable military spouses direct access to one another.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 221025-O-D0439-1001Y

The 2024 survey, which should take less than 15 minutes to complete, can be accessed by visiting the DOD Office of People Analytics Survey portal at Once on the site, select the button at the bottom of the page which will direct respondents to enter the spouse's DOD identification number to access the survey.  

The survey will be active until early April. Results from the current survey are available on and on

A parallel, biennial survey for Reserve spouses was fielded in 2023.  

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