Survey: Servicemembers satisfied with military life, but feeling more stress
October 16, 2004
(Click here to view graphics on the survey results.)
NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — According to a report obtained by Stars and Stripes, nearly two-thirds of U.S. servicemembers are satisfied with their overall military way of life, but more than half said they are more stressed than usual, a Pentagon survey shows.
More Air Force members reported they were satisfied, while the Army and Marine Corps had the lowest percentage satisfied, according to the 2003 Status of Forces survey by the Defense Manpower Data Center.
More than 32,000 active-duty servicemembers in July and August of last year took the online survey, which asked about everything from work-related stress to the overall satisfaction with health care benefits.
According to the survey, 72 percent of the Air Force members who took the survey said they were satisfied, compared with 61 percent for the Navy and 57 percent for both the Army and Marines. The percentages dropped across the board, but the Navy saw the biggest decrease dropping from 69 percent to 61 percent.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Grajales, 26, said he isn’t surprised that the Navy posted the largest decrease.
Grajales, who is based in Rota, blames cuts to recreation programs in Navy bases worldwide and the reduction in the number of sailors for the lower figures.
“Whenever there is change, people get worried,” he said. “And satisfaction has gone down because of the decreases in a lot of things.”
Senior Chief Petty Officer Todd Pigeon, 37, who has been in the Navy 19 years, said he enjoys being in the military and the many benefits that come with it. Pigeon and his wife were visiting Rota by hitching a ride on a space-available military flight from their home base from the States.
“I think it’s pretty good,” he said. “My quality of life is pretty good. I take advantage of all the benefits that we get.”
Sailors ranked their Navy Exchange stores higher than the Army and Air Force members rated theirs. For example, 78 percent were satisfied overall with the stores. That was 10 points better than what Army and Air Force members said. Sailors and Marines reported that their commissaries were better than the local retail stores, while more airmen and soldiers rated the military grocery stores worse.
Sixty-five percent of servicemembers said they were satisfied with their military health care benefits, but 55 percent said civilian doctors were more skilled than military doctors. Only 22 percent said the quality of health care in the military is better than what they would find off base.
The Air Force is generally perceived among servicemembers as having better housing, and the survey showed that airmen are the happiest with their living quarters.
Sixty-six percent of the airmen surveyed said they were satisfied with housing in general. That’s 13 percentage points higher than the Army, 14 points higher than the Marine Corps and three points higher than the Navy.
With the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, many servicemembers said they were stressed. Army members and lower-enlisted personnel reported the highest levels of personal stress, especially males.
The work “tempo” might have something to do with it. Military personnel — led by the soldiers and Marines — worked an average of 95 days of overtime in a 12-month period.