The Defense Department announced yesterday the results of its biennial survey of military spouses that provides key insights into the well-being of military families on topics, including food insecurity, spouse employment, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Survey of Active Duty Spouses looks at the experiences and attitudes of spouses across the military. Findings provide the DOD with a reliable scientific assessment that can help to adjust family policy and programs in the coming years. The survey gathers data on issues, like spouse employment, PCS moves, spouse education, financial health, food insecurity, child care, and satisfaction with military life. DOD’s Office of People Analytics within the Defense Personnel Analtyics Center conducts the survey every other year – in collaboration with DOD’s Military Community and Family Policy.
“The Survey of Active Duty Spouses is an invaluable source of data and insights into the well-being of military spouses and their families,” said Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy. “We are committed to taking care of our military families. The results of the latest survey allow us to prioritize solutions that meet their most pressing needs. I am truly grateful to the spouses who share their experiences and opinions through our surveys. Their voices serve as a guide as we continue the progress we have made on delivering on the DOD’s priority to help military families thrive.”
The 2021 survey quantified the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on military spouses and families, showing that the pandemic disrupted child care for 54% of active duty spouses who had been using routine child care arrangements. Translating this to the overall spouse population, child care disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic impacted roughly 25% of all active duty spouses. These spouses had a significantly lower level of financial well-being, poorer mental health, lower satisfaction with the military way of life, and lower levels of marital satisfaction.
The 2021 Survey of Active Duty Spouses found that spouse employment remained steady since 2019, while the percentage of spouses employed in their area of education or training rose significantly over the same period. The survey also found that 25% of spouses experienced food insecurity, and only 49% said they were satisfied with military life, down from 56% in 2019.
The survey is considered the “gold standard” of military spouse surveys and utilizes probability-based sampling and weighting to ensure that the results are generalizable to the population of military spouses. All data and analyses are DOD-vetted and reviewed.
View the survey results on the Military OneSource website at https://www.militaryonesource.mil/data-research-and-statistics/survey-findings/2021-spouses-survey/.
For those spouses not selected for the scientifically sampled survey, the 2021 survey offered a short supplemental survey for all active-duty spouses to provide their feedback on issues, challenges and concerns, https://militaryonesource.mil/data-research-and-statistics/survey-findings/spouse-voices/. The department used this information to identify key issues that are listed and supported by the quotes on the Spouse Voices page.
About Military Community and Family Policy
Military Community and Family Policy is directly responsible for establishing and overseeing quality-of-life policies and programs that help our service members, their families and survivors be well and mission-ready. Military OneSource is the gateway to programs and services that support the everyday needs of the 5.2 million service members and immediate family members of the military community. These DOD services can be accessed 24/7/365 around the world.