Survey Finds That Less Than A Third Of Military Families Would Recommend Service — 40% Drop Since 2016
TOPSHOT - US Marines with 1/3 Charlie company leave their combat outpost in Trikh Nawar on the northeastern outskirts of Marjah on February 23, 2010. The US-led offensive in southern Afghanistan is progressing at a slower pace than expected due to Taliban resistance and deadly roadside bombs, US defense chiefs said. AFP PHOTO/PATRICK BAZ (Photo by PATRICK BAZ / AFP) (Photo by PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images)
PATRICK BAZ/AFP via Getty Images

According to a survey conducted by an advocacy organization for military-affiliated communities, only one-third of military families would still recommend military service, a 40% drop since 2016.

In 2016, 55% of active-duty military families recommended military service, compared to just 32% in 2023, reported.

Blue Star Families and Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families examined the responses from 7,400 people — including active-duty troops, National Guard members, and military reserve family members — and found that although the top issue disturbing them was time spent away from their families, increasing inflation was a major issue as it caused food insecurity. Other issues included the lack of jobs for military spouses and poor mental and physical health care. 

“According to the Blue Star survey, 73% of active duty-affiliated respondents were paying more than $200 a month out-of-pocket for civilian housing options, and 48% of active-duty families noted they had financial stress stemming from general housing costs,” reported, adding that in 2023, only the Marine Corps and Space Force met their recruiting quotas.

“We are still in credit card debt from our PCS,” one active-duty Army spouse who took the survey noted. “Cost of living is rising. My children are young and need balanced meals. I spend my entire civilian paycheck on child care. We buy cheap food and skip where we can.”

Suggesting a pay increase of 20% for military members, Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John G. Ferrari wrote, “The costs and implications of an increase are certainly substantial, no less because of the budget caps currently in place that are restraining the Pentagon’s budget. But, a failure to recruit means a failure to man, and thus a failure to deter and fight. And that would be a disaster for our national security.”

Ferrari pointed out that during the tenure of President Ronald Reagan, the annual military pay raise increased by over 35%.


The Pentagon has implemented a program called “Military Health System Genesis” which examines prospective military applicants’ medical history. Former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Owen West noted:

Genesis’s perverse incentive system has resulted in risk aversion among the health screeners, who demand that recruits spend time and money tracking down amplifying evidence, from retired doctors to fifth-grade prescriptions. The processing time for acceptances has doubled. Tens of thousands of other dispirited volunteers file appeals, drop out of the queue or are altogether disqualified. The armed services now override doctor refusals for one out of six recruits. … Had Genesis been back-tested on the all-volunteer force of the past three decades, tens of thousands who performed superbly in stressful physical levels would have been barred from entry.

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