Blue Star Families’ 8th Annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey Highlights Impacts of Service on Families

Published: November 14, 2017

Time away from family and impact on children and caregivers are top of mind for military families.


Washington, DC – For the first time in eight years, the top concern of military families is the impact of military service on their families, according to the 2017 Blue Star Families (BSF) annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey (aMFLS).


“This survey brings new and critical insight into the challenges facing our armed forces and their families today and will be a valuable tool for government, nonprofits and our communities who want to make a difference,” said Kathy Roth-Douquet, CEO of Blue Star Families.

“The 2017 Military Family Lifestyle Survey results indicate that while the majority of our military members and their spouses are satisfied with military life, those who serve our nation are increasingly concerned regarding the impact of military service on their families,” said Cristin Orr Shiffer, Senior Advisor for Research and Policy at Blue Star Families.  “Our nation’s unprecedented sixteen years of war has fundamentally redefined what it means to serve, for service members and especially for their families.”

The survey, which is a collaboration between Blue Star Families and Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), also showed that military families are concerned about community integration, the overall costs of service and sometimes lack of support for the diverse, 21st century workforce.

  • 60% of military families would not recommend military service to their own child, a decrease of 11% in three years

  • 51% feel they don’t belong in their local, civilian communities.

  • 40% of service members had experienced more than six months of separation from their families in the past 18 months.

  • 28% of spouses indicated they were unemployed and actively seeking work

  • 30% of military caregivers indicated they were unemployed and actively seeking work and 43% reported debt reduction was their top financial goal

  • 67% of female service members cannot find childcare vs only 33% of male service members who reported the same.

“America has the greatest All-Volunteer force and our military families make tremendous sacrifices,” said John Bird, VADM (ret.) and senior vice president of Military Affairs at USAA, the presenting sponsor of the survey. “This survey underscores the responsibility we have to better support our military families and caregivers.”

The full 2017 Military Family Lifestyle Survey will be released on Nov. 15 at a reception at the Rayburn House in Washington D.C. A panel discussion focused on this year’s findings will take place on Nov. 16 at The Brookings Institute and help inform and encourage dialogue around challenges and prominent aspects of maintaining the strongest and most effective All-Volunteer Force, and what can be done to proactively support our service members and their families.

About the Military Family Lifestyle Survey

This is the eighth iteration of the BSF Military Family Lifestyle Survey, which has been conducted annually since 2009. The 2017 survey, designed by Blue Star Families in collaboration with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and analyzed by the Department of Research and Policy at Blue Star Families, was fielded in April and May of this year. More than 8,300 military families, including active du ty service members and veterans, provided valuable insight regarding the true cost of sustaining the All-Volunteer Force. The Military Family Lifestyle Survey’s response rate makes it the largest and most comprehensive survey of active duty, veterans, and their families.

Funding for the 2017 annual Military Family Lifestyle Survey is provided through the generosity of our presenting sponsor USAA and from Lockheed Martin Corporation, Facebook, and Northrop Grumman.

About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families builds communities that support military families by connecting research and data to programs and solutions, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and served more than 1.5 million military family members. Blue Star Families believes that all military families should be able to serve and simultaneously build thriving and healthy families. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. Visit for more information. 

About IVMF

The IVMF is the first interdisciplinary national institute in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Supported by a world-class advisory board and public and private partners committed to advancing the post-service lives of America’s service members, veterans and their families, the IVMF delivers class-leading programs in career, vocations, and entrepreneurship education and training. The IVMF also provides actionable and national impacting research, policy analysis and program evaluation; coordinates comprehensive collective impact strategies; and works with communities and non-profits to enhance service delivery for veterans and their families. Please visit for more information. 

About USAA 

The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 12.3 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit