Military Personnel & Readiness

The nature of war is changing, and so is the face of our military. According to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, over half of active-duty service members are married, and approximately a third of those service members have children. Yet the current military system was designed during the Cold War to attract unattached young men, capable of conforming to an “up and out” promotion system involving frequent relocation. This system puts an unacceptable level of stress on service members and their families, leading to adverse financial, health, and mental health outcomes.

Unless our military system is reformed to meet the needs of modern military families, it is unlikely that young Americans will continue to choose a life of service.

Blue Star Families champions military cultural changes and policies that support a healthy work-life balance and enable greater career control.

Policy Recommendations

  • Maintain adequate manning levels
  • Enforce dwell time policies
  • Pilot an online database for each branch to automate and increase service member influence over future assignments
  • Replace predetermined, time-dependent promotions with a fully merit-based military promotion model
  • Create a continuum of service by making it easier to repeatedly transition between active, guard, and reserve components
  • Expand lateral-entry authority to allow mid-career civilians to enter the military at higher ranks
  • Replace “up-or-out” promotion processes with a “perform-to-stay” system
  • Ensure military families are well-informed about the benefits and challenges of an overseas tour
  • Allow military families to exercise greater control over whether or not they choose to accept an overseas assignment and/or the timing of such an assignment