A New Approach for Assessing the Needs of Service Members and Their Families
OFFICE OF THE UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE (PERSONNEL AND READINESS) WASHINGTON DC
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Since the advent of the all-volunteer force in the 1970s, military family programs and quality-of-life initiatives for service members have grown and continue to grow. Despite widespread belief that these programs enhance military recruitment, retention, readiness and performance, scant evidence exists to demonstrate this link, or to determine what types of support have the greatest impact or return on investment. A 1988 Department of Defense Directive requires military family support programs to be responsive to the needs of service members and their families, yet most assessments place existing programs at the center of the inquiry, not the needs of personnel and their families. Assessments that do ask about needs typically fail to link them with program use or whether those programs helped to meet those needs. This monograph proposes a research framework and a survey that differs from existing survey efforts. The new approach allows us to link service members and spouses most pressing problems to their self-defined needs. Then, within that context, it links those needs to the military and nonmilitary services they used and did not use and their perceptions about those services, including whether they helped solve their problems. The monograph shows the process by which we developed and tested this framework and provides a sample survey instrument. We also discuss how this approach differs from other approaches, the challenges to implementing such a survey, and the value of the potential survey results to different types of military leaders and support service professionals.
- Sociology and Law
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations
- Military Forces and Organizations