The effectiveness of the United States military depends on ensuring the well-being of its service members, veterans, and their families. Uncertainty surrounding deployments, long work hours, and separation from loved ones causes significant stress on military personnel and families, and has negative effects on the retention of key personnel. Earlier this month, President Barack Obama praised the families of the nation's armed forces when he again proclaimed November to be "Military Family Month."
RAND is a resource for research and policy recommendations that address the challenges faced by military members, spouses, and their children. Its researchers have worked to remove obstacles from the paths of returning veterans, studied the effects of deployment on military households, and evaluated the quality and cost-effectiveness of Department of Defense health-care—one of the largest health-care organizations in the nation.
Using funds contributed by donors, and the proceeds from client-funded research, RAND researchers conducted a comprehensive study of the mental health and cognitive needs of U.S. service members returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. This analysis of the so-called "invisible wounds of war" is intended to help overcome health and employment problems that hinder veterans' reintegration into civilian life.
Other research has studied the less obvious challenges faced by military families. The Department of Defense asked RAND to study the impact of parental deployments on children's academic performance. Researchers found statistically-significant indications of modestly lower achievement scores across home state, rank, and gender lines, and offered recommendations to better meet the needs of these children. A separate study compared the total earnings of military servicemembers and their spouses to civilian couples, and suggested ways to address the differences between them.
As the goals and composition of modern armed forces change, RAND will continue to advise policymakers on ways to improve the lives of the nation's service families.