Military Leaders Economic Security Toolkit
This toolkit helps leaders and service providers support the economic security of service members.
Economic Security Supports Military Readiness
A military family's economic security is critical to mission readiness. This toolkit helps define economic security issues and provides tools and resources to help you support your service members.
NEW Data on Food Security
Learn more about food security in the military community and how it's impacting service members and spouses.
Know the Issues Affecting Our Service Members
The current hot housing market is impacting many military families. Those relocating are facing rising rents and home prices, paying out of pocket for temporary lodging, waiting longer for on-base housing and paying more per month than their housing allowance covers.
Every PCS comes with its unique set of challenges but there are resources available to help service members pin down the tools they need to make their next PCS a power move. Learn more about how Military OneSource can help connect service members and their families to support for their next relocation.
Food security is having access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Food security is critical for overall health and well-being, and peak service member performance. Learn how to quickly assess food insecurity.
Mrs. Patricia Montes Barron, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy highlights the 2023 Military Family Readiness Academy series, Military Families and Food Security: A Call to Action. This free virtual professional development series offers multi-disciplinary programming opportunities for service providers, to include an asynchronous course, live panel discussion, and interactive workshop. Join the 2023 academy series to explore food insecurity’s impact on military families and discover how to apply your knowledge to the communities you serve.
Visit https://oneop.org/mfra/foodsecurity/ to learn more about OneOp’s Military Family Readiness Academy and to register for live events and access the self-paced course.
Help promote food security in your military community.
The 2023 Military Family Readiness Academy, Military Families and Food Security: A Call to Action, offers resources and tools to help service providers promote food security for military families.
What Leaders Need To Know
Learn How To Identify Food Insecurity
Financial well-being is when a person can fully meet current and ongoing financial obligations, can feel secure in their financial future, and is able to make choices that allow enjoyment of life.
Identifying Economic Concerns
Additional Information To Help Service Members
Check out the resources and tools at your fingertips to help military families bolster their economic security and relieve financial stress. Whether it's helping them with financial well-being, housing availability or food security, the information below provides a great start. You can also download the free MilProvider app to easily access and share these Military OneSource resources, products and more with your service members.
Additional Housing Availability Information
Additional Food Security Information
Additional Financial Well-Being Information
- Military Service Resources
- Military Relief Societies — From emergency assistance to education and community resources, these organizations can help service members who need financial relief.
Economic insecurity describes the stability and health of the standards of living across the total force to be mission ready. Economic security refers to the broader set of conditions that allow the total force to have a stable income and resources supporting a standard of living throughout the Military Life Cycle allowing for military readiness. In short, economic security is national security.
Financial well-being is the ability of service members and their spouses to be able to cover their essential needs and plan for future goals. Financial well-being impacts individual readiness, performance and retention and is supported by financial literacy, which is the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively. The Department of Defense provides financial education, tools resources and services through the Office of Financial Readiness (FINRED), FINRED.USALEARNING.GOV, and MilSpouseMoneyMission.org. Military OneSource also delivers personal, professional financial counseling to service members and spouses at MilitaryOneSource.mil.
Installation-based PFMs and PFCs regularly offer educational workshops, briefings and seminars on a variety of financial topics based on the particular needs and interests of their local population. All Department of Defense financial literacy programs are designed to help participants develop knowledge and skills to take independent action. This includes where to find additional support, whether that is a DoD financial counselor, another federal agency or department, or community resources.
Housing insecurity is the lack of security caused by high housing costs in proportion to income, poor housing quality, unstable neighborhoods, overcrowding, or homelessness. Housing insecurity can affect anyone, but disproportionately affects lower income families who often must pay higher proportions of their income on high-cost housing. Studies show that food and housing insecurity may contribute to poorer mental and physical health in adults and children.
Households are considered cost burdened if they spend more than 30% of their income on housing and severely cost burdened if they spend more than 50% of their income on housing. Cost-burdened households have little left over each month to spend on other necessities such as food, clothing, utilities and health care. Black and Hispanic households are almost twice as likely as white households to be cost burdened. As of 2014, 21.3 million households were cost burdened. Of these, 11.4 million households were severely house burdened. 83% of households earning less than $15,000 a year were cost burdened. Current data are likely higher due to COVID-19 and damage done by natural disasters.
- 21.3 million households were cost burdened. Of these, 11.4 million households were severely house burdened.
- 83% of households earning less than $15,000 a year were cost burdened.
- Current data are likely higher due to COVID-19 and damage done by natural disasters.
Service members complain that the rent near some installations is too high or doesn’t provide enough space for the price. Many complain that the Basic Allowance for Housing doesn’t cover rent and members are having to pay hundreds more per month for housing. When purchasing houses, members say that they are bidding tens of thousands of dollars over asking price yet still do not approach the winning bid. The Defense Department is aware of the issue and is considering solutions such as faster-than-normal adjustments to BAH, adjustments in PCS dates, and adjustments in authorities for temporary lodging expenses.
Food insecurity is typically defined when access to adequate food for active, healthy living is limited by lack of money and other resources. There are different levels of food insecurity: food availability, access to food, utilization and stability.
Food insecurity is not a new issue in this country and the military community is not immune. The issue has, however, taken on a heightened level of importance and focus as we all feel the longtail effects of the pandemic. Increased uncertainties and negative financial impacts particularly among those families who rely on incomes from both heads of households. Increased unemployment rates mean some families went from two incomes down to one. Increased pressure on already-tight budgets has strained individual and family budgets. Reports of hardships faced among service members and families have come to greater light through surveys and reports and the increased need for support is clear.
There are over 35 million people in the U.S. classified as food insecure. The incidence of food insecurity is generally higher in households with children, low incomes or unemployment, younger adults or elderly, and those who live in rural or urban areas where access to food can be challenging.
Food insecurity is assessed based on a series of questions. The questions cover a range of severity of conditions and behaviors that characterize food insecurity. In the military there is a six-item measure. Depending on the answers, households can be categorized as 1) food secure, 2) low food security, 3) very low food security. These are the definitions:
Food Secure: Access at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. Can afford enough healthy food.
Food Insecure: Worry, stretch, juggle
Low Food Security: Unable, at some time during the year, to provide adequate food for one or more household members due to a lack of resources. Reduced quality and variety of diet.
Very Low Food Security: Normal eating patterns of some household members were disrupted at times during the year and their food intake reduced below levels they considered appropriate. Reduced food intake.
The Defense Department has made addressing economic insecurity a DOD-wide high priority. Overall, the approach is to mobilize leadership and resources to help those in need find resources and help; and ensure there is a clear understanding and measures for food insecurity to improve solutions and help reduce the incidence. A series of actions are planned from now through 2022.
There are a range of supports available to military service members and families. Your local command and service providers on installation can help. Also, resources can be found on MilitaryOneSource.mil.
The Community Resource Finder is an easy-to-use, easy-to-search tool available through Military OneSource’s Member Connect website. It gives you access to thousands of resources and allows you to connect faster with the solutions you need. All resources are vetted, military friendly and free or low cost. The community resource finder is available to all Military OneSource account holders.