Military Personnel:

Preliminary Results of DOD's 1999 Survey of Active Duty Members

T-NSIAD-00-110: Published: Mar 8, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 8, 2000.

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Norman J. Rabkin
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Defense's 1999 Survey of Active Duty Personnel, focusing on: (1) military personnel's satisfaction with military life and the aspects of military life that influence decisions to stay in or leave; (2) the extent to which military personnel are working long hours and spending time away from home; and (3) the personal financial conditions reported by military personnel.

GAO noted that: (1) based on the survey results, more military personnel are satisfied with their way of life than are dissatisfied; (2) officers have markedly higher satisfaction rates than enlisted personnel, and satisfaction tends to increase with seniority; (3) satisfaction and intent to stay in the military are strongly linked; (4) about 73 percent of satisfied personnel indicated they are likely to stay in the military; (5) only 20 percent of dissatisfied personnel indicated they are likely to stay; (6) pay and job enjoyment were cited as top reasons for both intending to stay and considering leaving the military; (7) other top reasons cited for contemplating leaving included quality of leadership and amount of personal and family time; (8) neither housing nor health care for families was among the top reasons cited by military personnel for considering leaving the military; (9) family medical care was among the top reasons cited for considering staying in the military; (10) most military personnel believe they would be better compensated and have more personal and family time available in the civilian world; (11) concern that the smaller military force is being stretched thin in places may be warranted; (12) nearly two-thirds of the force reported working between 41 and 60 hours a week, and almost one-quarter indicated they worked more than 60 hours a week; (13) those working longer hours had lower overall satisfaction; (14) top reasons for working more hours than usual included mission requirements, additional duties like special projects, staffing shortfalls, and deployment-related issues; (15) personnel who spent 5 months or more away were less satisfied than those who spent less time away; (16) the top difficulties encountered by servicemembers while they were away included managing expenses or bills, communicating with their families, and household and car repairs; (17) more than half of all military personnel reported being financially secure; (18) however, some enlisted personnel appear financially strapped--about 22 percent reported that it was tough to make ends meet or that they were in over their head; (19) many enlisted personnel seem to have little financial cushion; (20) a small portion of the enlisted force reported they had received assistance from government programs like Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children, Food Stamps, and Medicaid; and (21) although the percentage of the force receiving these types of assistance is fairly, low this translates into thousands of recipients throughout the force.

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