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Spouse Voices

Spouses are shaping the future.

The 2021 Survey of Active Duty Spouses included, for the first time ever, a supplemental survey allowing all spouses to provide input on their experiences with military life. Key concerns voiced by spouses are below, along with resources to help.

“The best decisions to improve the quality of life for military families begins with the best information — information direct from the source. The Survey of Active Duty Spouses provides valuable feedback on what is going well and where to focus more attention to meet the needs of our community.”
– Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

Your top concerns from the supplemental survey:

Spouse EmploymentChild CarePCS MovesRising CostsRelationshipsHealth Care

Spouse Employment

Woman at desk talks on headset

  • 64% of civilian spouses are in the labor force (employed or unemployed/actively seeking work).
  • 21% of civilian spouses are unemployed.
  • Unemployed spouses spend an average of 19 weeks looking for work.

“My sponsor’s service and assignment overseas has forced me to seek employment OCONUS with little to no support from the Department of Defense…I am now unemployed and have restricted options for continuing employment in my previous career field or with the federal government.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

“The military does not understand that as our AD members go out and fight the fight, we do everything at home. We lose ‘ourselves.’ Being employed is a way to have something of our own. The military can help with programs for spouses to find jobs in their career field.”
– Junior Officer Spouse

Installation Employment Readiness Program: Contact your employment readiness program for face-to-face support.

Spouse Education & Career Opportunities. Learn about education and career guidance available to military spouses.

Check out the Military Spouse Preference Program for assistance when applying for DOD civilian jobs.

Learn about jobs available in child development centers and youth programs through the Come Grow With Us initiative.


Child Care

Children playing with foam blocks

  • 46% of active-duty spouses have children under 6 living at home.
  • 46% of active-duty spouses with children under 6 routinely use child care during the work day.

“Child development centers not having the capacity to support dependents, leaving us struggling to find not only safe child care but also affordable care. This puts undue stress on both the service member as well as spouses.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

“Child care is likely the largest challenge in my family. Expanded access to base providers would help – our younger (non-school age) children receive care at the CDC, however, it was difficult to get in and the process was not easily understood or explained.”
– Senior Officer Spouse

“Long wait lists at CDC affecting ability to hold my own employment which affects mine and my family’s quality of life. At a previous duty station it took 10 months to receive a childcare spot, and by that point, I had already given up my job due to lack of childcare.”
– Senior Enlisted Spouse

Military families now have expanded options to find available, flexible child care solutions. provides information on military-operated or military-approved child care programs.

Child Care Aware of America administers Military Child Care in Your Neighborhood and its expanded programs including Military Child Care In Your Neighborhood-PLUS and Child Care In Your Home for fee assistance available to qualifying families.


PCS Moves

Movers unloading moving truck

  • 28% of active-duty spouses have experienced a PCS move in the last year.
  • 16% have chosen to remain in place and not move with their spouse at least once during their spouse’s career.

“[Top issue impacting quality of life] PCSing and losing my therapist. Having to gain a new support team when I get there. Quality of life could be improved by letting my spouse take leave, giving adequate days off, four days, family days, etc. as a nurse she gets poor schedules compared to other soldiers. My quality of life could also be improved by reducing PCS stress and not losing my therapist when I move.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

“Due to the frequent moves with shorter dwell times (under 10 months in some cases), prevents military spouses from finding employment, completing their college or certification courses, or gaining licensure in their professions…We move too quickly and too often. Our BAH rates do not accurately reflect the fair market value of housing in many locations, leading to military families incurring additional expenses or dealing with extensive commutes. And child care is both expensive and challenging to find.”
– Senior Officer Spouse

“Moving wrecks absolute havoc, from the physical aspect (packing and unpacking) to the emotional aspect of leaving behind support systems and networks, to having to find new doctors and service providers, to the distress of having so many things damaged by the careless way movers treat our belongings, to the extreme cost of each move. It is overwhelming.”
– Senior Officer Spouse

Need assistance preparing to move?

Need assistance settling in or finding assistance at your new location?

Need assistance with employment at your new location?


Financial Stress

Person pumping gas into their car

  • The average financial well-being score among all military spouses is higher than the U.S. average while the average well-being score of junior enlisted spouses is lower than the U.S. average.
  • One in four spouses are food insecure.

“…the amount that the lower ranks are getting paid isn’t enough to support a family of three. With the amount he’s getting paid, we can barely pay bills and have some money to buy groceries for a week and then struggle for another week until he gets paid again.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

“Military members should not go in financial crises when we have to PCS. People are not going to stay in the military if they have to lose money when moving. Rental cars need to be reimbursed. If the military wants to have good retention, they need to figure out how to not cause financial burdens on the SMs and their families. MALT is not enough. Gas prices have gone up. BAH is not enough in some areas. Prices for rent and mortgage have gone too high.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

“Things are crazy with housing/renting/inflation/food and base housing isn’t great in most places. So an increased allowance would be nice.”
– Junior Officer Spouse

Resources For Financial Stress: Learn about the free resources available to you to help ease financial stress.

Your service relief organization may be able to help if you’re having serious financial problems.

Military OneSource offers free financial counseling to service members and their families. Find out more about this benefit.

Learn more about food security resources and support programs available to you.


Relationships in the Military

Couple at counseling session

  • 50% of active-duty members are married.
  • 81% of active-duty spouses are satisfied with their marriage.
  • 74% of active-duty spouses have experienced their spouses being deployed for longer than 30 days.
  • 54% of active-duty spouses support their service members staying on active duty.

“It feels like no higher-ups in the squad truly care about us. Our mental well-being, home life is hard. My partner’s ever-changing hours effects both our sleep schedule because I rely on him so much. Moving thousands of miles from home, being in a new country without a way of transportation, having to create a new friend group leaves me alone hours a day. When you change their schedules like they change clothes, this affects our marriage tremendously.”
– Junior Enlisted Spouse

Access resources, services and expert guidance to work towards a resilient relationship.

Improve relationships at home with non-medical counseling.


Health Care

Woman talking with therapist

  • 44% of spouses have seen a counselor in their spouse/partner’s active duty career.
  • The average level of anxiety and depression indicators among military spouses was within the normal range.
  • 21% of spouses have seen a counselor in the past six months.

“It would be nice if the military acknowledged the growing need for mental health professionals at *all* their bases; just because a service member might not need professional help with mental or emotional issues, does not mean that member’s family won’t as well.”
– Senior Enlisted

“Better access to better medical care. Having to wait months to get an appointment, clinic phone lines are always down, doctors who don’t care/listen to your problems or try to help, etc.” – Senior Enlisted

Learn more about free, confidential non-medical counseling.

Military OneSource offers resources to help maintain good health and overall wellness.

Learn more about TRICARE and the benefits available to you and your family.

Contact Military OneSource 24/7

You can get personalized help 365 days a year by telephone and online.

Overseas? See OCONUS calling options.

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