We all know that in general, the military is not exactly family friendly, although sometimes they try. With FRGs, MWR events, and childcare available on installations, they are not exactly ignoring our existence.
On the other hand, with long hours, unsafe housing, and lack of help for military spouses seeking employment, there are plenty of things that could change to make the military more family friendly. Some of these changes are probably not too realistic. There could be reasons why the military does things the way it does that we simply can’t understand. However, dreaming about these positive changes is a smart thing to do.
Here are 18 ways things could change to make the military more family friendly:
1. Housing lists
One of the most frustrating things is to get orders to a new duty station, have to get on a long housing waitlist and end up not getting a home when you first get there. For some, that means living in a hotel for a month or two, for others that means renting even though they don’t want to. Wouldn’t it be nice if you never had to do that when you were PCSing? That if you wanted to live on post, you always had a place to move into?
2. Faster more streamlined orders
What if you always received your PCS orders six months before you had to be there? What if deployment orders were always given exactly three months before they left? That would make life so much easier.
3. Weight limits based more on family size, not rank
The weight limits when you PCS are a little off for bigger families. While giving people with more rank more weight allowance is good, the more people in your family, the more things you will own. Let’s take a look at how many families are going over their weight limits, how many people are in their families, and what can be changed to make things a little easier when moving with a big family.
4. Prioritize births
While having every service member be able to attend every one of their children’s births isn’t going to be possible, we could make it happen a little more often. Maybe that would be a matter of taking an earlier R&R or keeping a soldier back a few months to help on Rear D. While some units are really good about this, others are not.
5. Sick days
When a service member gets sick, they have to go into sick call to “call in sick.” Maybe service members should have a certain amount of days they can call in sick instead. While making sure a soldier is really sick and not just blowing off work is important, a limited amount of sick days wouldn’t hurt either.
6. Leadership improvements
We all know that there can be some improvements in leadership in the military. This is tricky because you need strong leadership, but you also need people who are not over the top for no reason.
7. Training periods
When a service member goes off to training, make sure they are training for all of those days. If a soldier goes away for a month and they only need them for a week of that time, making them stay wastes money and family time. The mission comes first, but that doesn’t mean things can change to allow them to be home instead of wasting time somewhere else.
8. Travel expenses
Wouldn’t it be nice if the military would pay for one trip home a year? Ya, this is a big dream but being able to see your family on a regular basis would be a lot easier for families who are already on a tight budget. Even more so for those who are stationed overseas.
9. Customer service on post
How many times have you been on post, trying to get something done, and encounter rude behavior on the person who is supposed to be helping you? This is one of the first things I noticed about military life, and we could do better than that. Improving customer service on post will go a long way in helping morale.
When you are signed up for EFMP, things can change for your service member’s career. They might not be able to go places they should be going because of the needs of the family. While in theory, this makes so much sense, it can cause families to have to live apart or frustrations over where they can PCS and where they can not. In some cases, families won’t sign up for EFMP, going without so that they can stay together.
11. Respect for female service members
We live in a modern age where women serve in the military too. They do a lot of the same jobs the men do but don’t always get the same respect. But they should.
12. Tuition assistance for all spouses
While MYCAA is great, it would be nice to have better tuition assistance for all spouses, not just those of a certain rank or wanting to pursue certain degrees. A military spouse who wants to get their Masters can benefit from tuition assistance as well.
13. PTSD help
We all know someone that is struggling with PTSD, and sometimes people fall through the cracks. We need more efficient ways to help people going through this. The suicide rate for service members and veterans is way too high.
14. Set work hours when not in pre-deployment mode
Training before a deployment means crazy hours, but do they have to work so long when they are not about to be deployed somewhere? Wouldn’t it be nice if they were always home by 5? And how about overtime pay if they aren’t? Okay, totally dreaming there 🙂
15. Affordable or free childcare
Having to use half your paycheck for daycare sucks. You also might need some care during a deployment while you are solo parenting. Having more affordable or even free choices for childcare would be amazing.
16. Fix the VA
We all know the VA has issues, a lot of issues. Let’s fix that. So many service members are not getting everything they should be and that hurts military families too.
17. Better Command Sponsorship process
When we applied for Command Sponsorship, it took forever. A lot of it was waiting for paperwork to get signed. While I would hope things would be better these days, I still hear stories of families having to wait back in the states for months and months. That isn’t any fun, especially if you know there is going to be a deployment in the future.
18. More choice for a Pcs
Wouldn’t being able to always pick your next duty station be nice? While that is going to be impossible to make happen, maybe things could be changed to make being able to choose your next duty station happen a little more often.
While making the military more family friendly would be a lot of work, there are ways to change things. Maybe some of the things I have listed wouldn’t work at all, but they are worth discussing. There have been plenty of changes over the years that have helped military families. I am looking forward to seeing more of those in the future.
What would you add to this list???