Report: Families’ Quality of Life Improved in 2023

Report: Families’ Quality of Life Improved in 2023

Army homecoming
Photo by: U.S. Army/Porsha Auzenne

Military families experienced a number of quality-of-life improvements in 2023, according to a new report from Blue Star Families.

“2023 was a year of incremental progress for military family quality of life. Increases to service member base pay, Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH), and extended Temporary Lodging Expense (TLE) benefits may have provided some military families better financial stability this year,” Blue Star Families’ 2023 Military Family Lifestyle Survey found. “Addressing military families’ quality-of-life concerns is a matter of national security, as the country faces a pivotal decision on the continuation of the all-volunteer force.”

The newly released report analyzed responses from over 7,400 respondents between May and July 2023. Nearly one-third of responses from active-duty family respondents were from active-duty soldiers and their spouses.

“Military spouse employment remains the top concern for active-duty spouse respondents for the seventh consecutive year and one of the top five concerns for active-duty service member respondents,” the survey found.

Other top concerns for active-duty families include family separation, pay, housing and children’s education.

Among National Guard and Reserve family respondents, time separated from family was a top concern, as it has been since 2020, the survey found. For veterans and their spouses, health care and other military benefits were among their top concerns.

Military families experience unique stressors compared to their civilian counterparts, including frequent moves, deployments and separation from family members, among others.

Compared to previous years, fewer families paid out-of-pocket for housing costs, the survey found.

“Housing costs continue to be a top five issue of concern for active-duty families, though Department of Defense efforts to address these concerns appear to be making a positive impact,” the survey found. “The majority of active-duty family respondents (73%) who live in civilian housing, continue to pay well over $200 out-of-pocket each month, though this is the lowest proportion since 2020.”

More active-duty spouses who relocate have been able to transfer their professional licenses and work in their new locations. 

“Job portability shows positive gains for those active-duty spouses who recently relocated,” the survey found. “License portability protections are working for most spouses: 81% of active-duty spouses whose license/certification was honored at their new duty station report that they were able to start working as soon as they arrived.”

Though 2023 was marked by quality-of-life improvements, there is still work to do, the survey report found.

“While this is welcome progress, there is still a long way to go before all of the quality-of-life challenges related to military life are addressed,” the survey found. It is “critical … to address … quality-of-life issues so that families have the support they need to thrive during the unique and meaningful sacrifice of the military lifestyle.”

Read the report here.