15 Nov 2022
It’s a time to celebrate! Allison Tidwell, Graduate Research Assistant for Military REACH, recently defended her master’s thesis. For the past two years, she’s completed coursework towards her master’s degree in Human Development and Family Science, and for the last year, she has been working on her thesis titled: Should I stay or should I go? An examination of the effects of work and family factors on active duty and National Guard and Reserve service members’ military career intentions.
Using data from the All Army Study component of the Army Study to Assess Risk and Resilience in Service members (Army STARRS AAS), the purpose of Allison’s study was to explore how work-related factors, family-related factors, and mental health contribute to a Service members’ intentions to stay in or leave the military, and whether the contributions of these factors differed between active-duty and National Guard or Reserve personnel.
The Department of Defense sets annual retention goals to retain a highly-trained, ready defense force. To achieve these retention goals, it is important to examine what factors contribute to Service members intentions to stay in or leave the military. Given the differences in monthly time commitment to military duties between full-time, active-duty Service members and part-time, National Guard or Reserve Service members, factors contributing to career intentions may differ between these two groups.
Overall, this study has several implications for promoting retention among Service members:
- Unit leaders and subordinates can work to create more supportive work environments and policies that help Service members balance their work and family obligations (e.g., shorter deployments, maternity and paternity leave, remote work opportunities)
- Unit leaders can be trained to recognize signs of declining mental health and refer their unit members to appropriate health care resources.
Importantly, while some work-related factors and family-related factors were stronger indicators of mental health and military career intentions for active-duty or National Guard or Reserve personnel, these factors still remained important for career intentions across both groups.
- This finding suggests limited differences in how Service members’ perceptions of their work environment, family life, and mental health contribute to intentions to remain and intentions to leave based on active-duty or National Guard or Reserve status.