I’ve spent the last three weeks listening to the reaction of many of those families; the active duty, the retirees, and the veterans, to the release of the Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission recommendations, which I discussed the week of their release: Sweeping Military Pay and Benefit Changes Coming. While many are trying to be optimistic, I would suggest the majority of military families are felling significant apprehension about these potential changes. Listening to those families, I have come away convinced that if we haven’t already broken the system, we’ve badly sprained it.
Today’s Military Family ConcernsDon’t think my anecdotal proof bears weight? Let’s take a look at some numbers. Last fall, in its annual survey, Blue Star Families, a military family non-profit, released some telling numbers indicating the top concerns of military families in 2014: Plainly, families are worried that their pay and benefits are at the mercy of a dysfunctional national defense structure. Granted, the numbers might have been inflated because the survey was taken shortly after the infamous retirement cuts pushed through Congress and signed by the President in the 2013 Budget Control Act; an idea for which there still isn’t parentage, An Immaculate Misconception; How Not To Make Defense Policy.
In a more recent survey from last fall, The Military Times, in a series titled “America’s Military: A Force Adrift“, noted a significant drop in morale. Of the 2,300 service members surveyed, 27% felt that “senior military leadership has my best interests at heart”, and 15% “approve of the way President Obama is handling his job as commander in chief”, both significant drops since 2009 (53% and 45%).