Military Spouse Appreciation Day is Friday, May 6th. While this day is dedicated to honoring the sacrifices and service of military spouses, research shows support for military spouses is lacking. Support for military spouses is needed for them and our service members — it overall strengthens national security and local communities. Military spouses tend to take on multiple roles and responsibilities associated with the military lifestyle, which can affect their sleep, stress, mental health, and ability to find employment.
Researchers Jeanette Yih Harvie, Ph.D., Rachel Linsner, M.S., and Rosalinda Vasquez Maury, M.S. from Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) shared some data points below. They are available for interviews upon request.
- For many military spouses, the nature of military service can mean the service member is unavailable to support household labor or family obligations, often leaving the military spouse solely responsible for maintaining day-to-day household obligations and family needs, which can impact their physical and mental well-being. Fewer than half of active-duty spouse respondents (42%) from the 2021 Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS) agree that their health is excellent, and those who were separated from their service members report higher mean stress scores than those who were not. While two-thirds of active-duty spouse respondents (67%) report they do not have a current mental health diagnosis, 25% report a current diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is higher than the estimated levels for the U.S. population.
- Military spouse under- and unemployment remains a top issue for active-duty spouse respondents in the 2021 MFLS.
- Previous research from “Understanding the Diverse Experiences of Military & Veteran Families of Color” shows that active-duty military spouses are two to four times as likely to be unemployed than their non-military counterparts, and active-duty military spouses of color have higher unemployment rates than white, non-Hispanic active-duty spouses.
- Active-duty spouse respondents in the 2021 MFLS who cited military spouse employment as a top issue of concern believe some of the solution to this challenge should be remote work opportunities for spouses (44%), flexible work schedules for spouses (30%), and job transfer from one duty station to another with the same employer (24%).
- The 2021 MFLS shows the top five resources regularly needed for Active-Duty Families: communication from unit/command, spouse group for unit/command, access to medical care, opportunity to exercise, and resources for children’s activities.
- “My active-duty spouse’s job is important but leaves little time for us as a family or support for me as a working spouse and our children.” — Active-Duty Army Spouse, 2021 MFLS
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