|Photo by Blue Star Families|
Here are some of the statistics I found a little startling:
• "68 percent of military spouses reported that being a military spouse had a negative impact on their ability to pursue a career." Military spouses have to move around a lot, but I don't see why so many business let that be a black mark. Spouses work all over the country, at large companies and small ones, so they can bring a variety of experience to the office. They have life experiences, volunteer experiences, education, that is often greater than that of the civilian sector. I remember reading a study a few years ago that said, compared to their civilian counterparts, military spouses are often much more educated. Sure, education is not the same as work experience, but it shows that spouses have a dedication to a specific career. More business need to be open to hiring spouses.
• Of those who had suicidal thoughts, only "30 percent of service member sought help." I've been saying this for years, but the military needs to learn how to handle suicide. They're slowly improving, but 30 percent seeking help is not enough. We need to work to end the stigma associated with suicide. The military loses too many good people that way.
• Concerns about our military children was shared in the survey as well. Common fears were the child feeling abandoned by the deployed parent (especially after experiencing multiple deployments), stresses on parenting that could have lasting affects and the education gap between states. All of those are valid concerns. I don't believe any of this can be fixes within the military, though. As parents, we need to do what we can to make the child feel included, not abandoned and really crack down on our parenting skills. Rules remain rules even when the service member is gone. More spouses also need to be active in understanding their child's education. If the child isn't receiving an adequate education, parents need to step in and see what can be changed. This applies to spouses AND civilians. We need to take more interest in the education of our future generation. Surprisingly though, while there were serious concerns about child development in the military, many responded that they feel their children benefit from this lifestyle.
• "14 percent reported being unhappy or very unhappy" in their marriage and "32 percent report working out arguments with great or some difficulty." Yikes. To many of you, 14 percent seems like a small number. To me, it's just too high. The Army has had the greatest increase in divorce over the last 10 years than any other branch. The military has quite a few marriage support options, but with the cuts from sequester, it's possible they won't be as widely available. Here's the thing — if YOU have problems within your marriage, fix them. Whether it's religious counseling, secular counseling, non-military counseling through things like MilitaryOneSource or trying it on your own, start trying. Communication is and always will be key to any relationship. If you can't communicate your frustrations, wants, needs or other feelings effectively, you won't get anywhere. Yelling and screaming won't do it either. It seems a lot of spouses don't seek help because they're worried it will get back to command. Then you need to try resolving it yourself or seeking off-post or private assistance. Military Family Life Consultants don't keep records and only report things to the command if they involve abuse or suicide (as will most other services as most state laws require it). Others believe the problem is their husband not being home (either for deployments or work) and no counseling will fix that. Well, your marriage is probably bad for more reasons than your husband not being there or else when he isn't home, he's out somewhere on his own. That one can't be held against the military.
• "92 percent of respondents felt the general public does not 'truly understand the sacrifices made by service members and their families.'" OK, I've said this many times in the past and I'll say it again — we cannot expect ANYONE to understand something they haven't experienced first-hand. We learn through experience. I can ASSUME that I know how hard a doctor's life can be, but I will never truly understand because I don't live that life. I would like to know how many of that 92 percent EXPECT the general public to understand. We can't have those expectations. First, the general public doesn't pay attention. At least majority of them. The ones that do may see it as patriotic duty, but they still probably don't truly understand. I won't go into it, but the way so many military spouses respond to civilians, I'm not surprised they don't understand. We rarely ever help them to.
Did YOU read the survey results? What did YOU find shocking?