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Military spouses experience high stress and unemployment, report says


A group of Minnesota women run a group that helps military couples wed.

Whether a loved one serves in a combat zone or in the reserves, marriage can come with challenges. Military spouses experience high stress and unemployment, according to a survey released Thursday sponsored by the Department of Defense. 

The nearly one million spouses to reserve and active duty service members, the 2017 survey found, often faced anxiety during their partners’ deployments and could struggle to find a job after moving for their partner’s next assignment. 

During their reserve members’ deployment, 92 percent of 368,000 spouses experienced an increase in stress levels. For 88 percent, deployment also brought feelings of loneliness. Depression and anxiety was an issue for 85 percent, too. 

Civilian reserve spouses were also twice as likely to be unemployed than the general public, with 8 percent seeking jobs.

But nearly a quarter of about 612,000 people married to active duty spouses couldn’t find a job despite wanting and looking for one. In 2017, the national unemployment rate was about 4 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Another 40 percent of spouses said it took seven months or more to find a job after their spouse received permanent change of station orders. Over one-third said they had to move in the last year because of their spouses’ reassignment. 

Related: I was a military spouse on my own at Christmas. It was painful but also special.

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Half of active duty spouses said their personal life stress level was higher than usual, although 61 percent said they preferred their partner stay in the military. For reserve spouses, 83 percent said they felt satisfied with their marriage. 

Female military members were less likely to be married and more likely to get divorced, the survey said, compared to male members. 

More active duty service members were married in 2017 than those in the reserves. In the reserves, 46 percent of men and 35 percent of women were married. Meanwhile 54 percent of men and 45 percent of women in active duty had a spouse. 

Half of all adults in the nation were married in 2017, according to the Pew Research Center.




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