In survey, soldiers in Europe call base services 'satisfactory'
U.S. Army Europe’s first broad assessment of Army community satisfaction, released Friday, showed that overall the Army in Europe is doing a satisfactory job in every major area assessed.
As part of a bigger plan to develop a steering committee to look at issues affecting the Army community in Europe, the survey was intended to provide a baseline from which to improve, said Maj. Heidi Whitescarver, chief of soldier and family readiness, who works in U.S. Army Europe’s personnel section. Whitescarver was directly involved with the survey.
On a scale of 1 to 5, survey respondents rated Army life in Europe at 3.46 overall, meaning that they are happy, Whitescarver said.
The survey used the Likert scale, which measures satisfaction in a range from very unhappy to very happy. Very unhappy scores a 1, neutral scores a 3, and very happy scores a 5.
Anything in the range of 3.0 to 3.9 is considered satisfactory. Below that range is considered unsatisfactory, and above is considered more than satisfactory.
Major focus areas of the survey were Army ethos (3.71), pay and compensation (3.53), health care (3.4), housing and workplace (3.32), education and development (3.38) and family support (3.37).
The survey asked 6,370 people, almost 4,000 of whom were soldiers, to respond to 61 questions on topics such as comfort in dealing with Army agencies, commissary services and barracks conditions. Seven additional questions collected demographic information on participants, but were not included in the survey results.
The survey also included civilians, retirees, reservists and National Guard members, family members and a handful of unassigned respondents.
Army ethos, which got the highest marks, covered questions about religious programs, voting assistance and the Army Family Action Plan program, which gives communities a forum to voice their concerns.
The question to which participants responded most negatively dealt with how well financial training and counseling programs helped them manage their money. The average rating on that question was 2.67. When those same people were asked if they felt their family’s finances were under control, the result was a 4.13 on the Likert scale — an overwhelming yes.
Troops were dissatisfied on average with the physical condition of their barracks (2.96). Those in military and off-base housing were happier, rating their conditions 3.31 and 3.7 respectively.
Commissaries across Europe rated satisfactory overall, but three rated below satisfactory on the survey. The second-worst-scoring commissary is in Livorno, with a 2.86 rating.
“I’m appalled, because Livorno is a magnificent little store,” said Gerri Young, spokeswoman for the Defense Commissary Agency Europe. The store has won awards as the best small commissary in Europe, Young said.
One factor that could explain Livorno’s low score is that only 14 people in Livorno responded to the survey. In Brussels, which had the lowest commissary score — 2.53 — there were 43 survey respondents.
Compared to Kaiserslautern, with 947 participants, and Stuttgart, with 557, Brussels and Livorno had low participation rates. Because of this, the results for each community can’t really be gauged against each other, Whitescarver said.
“The task force would be able to determine if it’s a valid concern in areas where the number of respondents was lower,” she said.
The survey, conducted between Feb. 17 and March 10, was anonymous and voluntary. There was no requirement for a certain number of participants from each community, and the samples taken are not necessarily representative of each community. Therefore, the results are more representative of Europe as a whole, Whitescarver said.
Results are online at: www.per.hqusareur.army.mil/umss/docs/Wellbeing_Charts.pdf.
Well-being surveyAs part of a bigger plan to develop a steering committee to look at issues affecting the Army community in Europe, the survey was intended to provide a baseline from which to improve. All numbers out of 5: A rating of 3.0-3.9 is satisfactory. Above 3.9 is more than satisfactory. Below 3.0 is less than satisfactory. (Total of 6,370 respondents to survey).