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Survey Finds Top Stressors for Military Families

The 10th annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey released by Blue Star Families suggests that unpredictability is making life much more difficult and stressful for military families

NBCUniversal, Inc.

One of the primary missions of the U.S. military is to make our nation's defense more unpredictable to our enemies. But that mission appears to be putting additional stress on military families.

The 10th annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey released by Blue Star Families suggests that unpredictability is making life much more difficult and stressful for military families.

Families like that of Simona Strianese, a military spouse with a 23-month-old son who said she’s moved over seven times.

The top five issues that stress military families out, according to over 11,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families who responded to the survey are:

  • Military spouse employment
  • Amount of time away from family
  • Dependent children’s education
  • Military family stability and quality of life
  • Lack of military career control

Finances are a struggle, according to 63% of participants. That's due in part because military spouses find it hard to get work because of the unpredictable schedules of military members, said Jessica Strong, Senior research manager with Blue Star Families.

"It's because of their servicemember's day-to-day job obligations," Strong said.

To cope with the high cost of living in San Diego, Strianese said she uses free and discount services like free food pantries.

“I save up to $30 to $40 a week using those services,” Strianese said.

Strong said concern about children's education is also big for military families, especially for those who have a family member with special needs.

"Not only do they get a new house, a new school, but they need new doctors, new specialists, and they have to repeat that process over and over again,” Strong said.

The survey also asked about whether families were taking advantage of mental health services to help handle the stressful lives of being in the military.

But what the survey found is while families knew about mental health services, they didn’t want to use them for fear it would hurt their military career, said Strong.

“What we want to do is illuminate these so that military families, military leaders, and community partners can work together to address those issues," Strong said.

For more information on the survey, visit Blue Star Families.

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