Relocation-related stress may not get the headlines, but its position in a recent survey shows how much trouble it can make for service members and their families.

Stress stemming from a move was a top-five concern across the board among the four groups that participated in the latest Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey: active-duty service members, military spouses, veterans and veteran spouses.

Among service members, it ranked as the second-highest stressor, behind deployments and ahead of financial issues. It ranked third, behind those two items, among military spouses; 46 percent of those surveyed put relocation stress in their top five worry list.

Veterans and veteran spouses were asked to recall up to five top stressors from their time associated with the military. Relocation ranked fifth for veterans, behind deployments, financial issues, separation, and isolation from family and friends. It ranked fourth for veteran spouses, with nearly 1 in 4 respondents remembering moves as a top stressor.

Many of the other issues addressed by the survey, which involved 7,891 participants, have strong connections to military families on the move:

  • Spouse employment: 55 percent of spouses surveyed are characterized as “underemployed,” with more than 4 in 10 earning less than they did at a previous job. Frequent relocations play into this issue, and many spouse-employment projects focus on portable licenses and other ways spouses can maintain their positions after a move.
  • Community: Less than half (49 percent) of military family respondents said they felt “a sense of belonging to their local civilian/off-installation” community. Researchers pointed to another stat as a possible explanation: 72 percent of military families had lived in their communities for two years or less.
  • Children: 1 in 3 active-duty members and 1 in 4 military spouses said the effect service had on their children was a top stressor. More than 1 in 5 spouses also saw child-care issues as a top stressor. Both issues can be exasperated by frequent moves.

Seeking ways to de-stress your next relocation? Here are a handful of links that may help:

Learn more about the survey here.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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