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Military Families Are More Worried Than Ever About the Effects of Budget Cuts

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Straight 8 Photography/Shutterstock.com

Downsizing within the Defense Department and the long-term impacts of sequestration are creating anxiety about job security among military service members and their families, according to a new survey.

Forty-six percent of middle-class military families (those in pay grades E-6 and above with annual household incomes of at least $50,000) report being “concerned” about their short-term job security, the latest survey from the First Command Financial Behaviors Index found. “That’s the highest level of concern recorded since the question was added to the monthly survey in spring 2013,” stated a news release from First Command Financial Services.

“Almost seven-in-10 survey respondents indicate anxiety regarding sequestration and almost half expect to be extremely or very affected by anticipated cuts to defense spending,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services Inc. The Defense Department has planned to downsize in the coming years because of troops withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The anxiety is wide-ranging, covering fears over smaller annual pay increases and benefits, such as housing allowances, education and retirement, to relocation concerns related to BRAC (although Congress so far has rejected the Obama administration’s calls for more Base Realignment and Closure rounds).

Military families are cutting back on daily spending, increasing their savings and pulling back on investments, according to the survey.

September Events for Military Service Members, Families and Veterans

The 2014 7th Annual Warrior-Family Symposium will be Sept. 10 at Washington’s Ronald Reagan Center. Sponsored by the Military Officers Association of American and the National Defense Industrial Association, this year’s conference will focus on service members transitioning into civilian life, mental health concerns for vets and families, and strengthen the collaboration between military and civilian communities.

The event is free and open to the public. Click here for more information and to register.

Less than a week later on Sept. 16, Blue Star Families, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization supporting the military community, will release its 2014 lifestyles survey of military members and their families on a range of issues, including pay and benefits. The 2013 survey, conducted in late 2012, showed shows a rising level of anxiety over compensation: Thirty-five percent of military families rated pay and benefits as their top concern in that report – a 15 percent increase from the group’s 2012 survey, conducted in 2011.

(Image via Straight 8 Photography/Shutterstock.com)

Kellie Lunney covers federal pay and benefits issues, the budget process and financial management. After starting her career in journalism at Government Executive in 2000, she returned in 2008 after four years at sister publication National Journal writing profiles of influential Washingtonians. In 2006, she received a fellowship at the Ohio State University through the Kiplinger Public Affairs in Journalism program, where she worked on a project that looked at rebuilding affordable housing in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina. She has appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal, NPR and Feature Story News, where she participated in a weekly radio roundtable on the 2008 presidential campaign. In the late 1990s, she worked at the Housing and Urban Development Department as a career employee. She is a graduate of Colgate University.

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