American Forces Press Service – By Elaine Wilson
WASHINGTON, May 13, 2010 – Defense officials have launched a large-scale survey in hopes of getting a better sense of how military families are weathering nearly a decade of war.
The Military Family Life Project, a longitudinal, department-wide survey, is designed to capture the long-term impact of deployment on families and to improve the support provided to them, officials said.
Beginning this month, 100,000 military spouses and 40,000 married active-duty servicemembers, selected at random from all services, will be invited by mail to participate in this confidential online survey.
“We are now in the eighth year of overseas contingency operations and recognize that there are still gaps in our ability to understand the emerging and changing needs of military families, as well as the cumulative effect of multiple deployments,” said Virginia S. Penrod, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for military community and family policy.
“This survey will provide a better understanding of the impact of deployment and help us assess the effectiveness of current policies, programs and services,” she added.
Penrod encouraged those selected to participate. “This is your chance to be heard on issues that directly affect you and your family,” she said. “Your answers will help shape policy, programs and services for military spouses and families.”
All participants will be surveyed again a year from now, she noted, and the survey’s results will be released soon after.
Understanding the impact of deployment is an ongoing, high-priority family readiness issue, Penrod said.
“Military families are strong, resilient and deserving of our support, yet separations resulting from deployment can strain even the strongest of families,” she said. “When a servicemember deploys, the whole family deploys.”
First Lady Michelle Obama commended the Defense Department for launching this “landmark” study when speaking to the National Military Family Association’s summit yesterday.
“I want to encourage all the spouses who were selected to fully participate in this project, because the more that this nation knows about your priorities, the more we can do to meet them,” the first lady said.