Blue Star Families recently completed its fifth annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey intended to better understand issues facing military families today. Partnering for the first time with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, the survey included all military branches, ranks, and geographical regions, including overseas installations. The survey received 6,270 responses from active duty service men and women, active duty family members, as well as recent veterans.
The survey results clearly reflect how deployments affect military families. Eighty-eight percent of service members who responded have been deployed between 1 and 5 times since September 11, 2001. Forty-seven percent of these deployments have lasted 13-36 months. Spouses report that among the many stressors of a deployment, household responsibilities, isolation, emotional issues, and parenting challenges are the most significant.
Military children are also greatly affected by the deployment of their parent(s). Negative impacts on children include separation anxiety, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and difficulty concentrating. However, deployments do have positive impacts, including increased adaptability, resilience, independence, personal growth, and an overall sense of pride. The positive elements of deployments help to explain why 11% of service member children ultimately join the military themselves, compared to just 1% of the general population.
The Scholarship Foundation looks to surveys like that completed by Blue Star Families to better understand the challenges faced by our students so that we can support them appropriately as they pursue higher education opportunities. We know that the sons and daughters of Marines and Navy Corpsmen sacrifice a great deal in support of their Marine and Navy Corpsman parents. Our mission is to ensure that their higher education opportunities are not among the sacrifices they make in support of their parents’ service to our country.