Image credit: SRA Christina M. Rumsey, USAF
May 03, 2022
The USO, Enduring Family Support, and How the DoD Budget Should Change
The United Service Organizations, or USO, impact 4.9 million military service members and their families every year. The USO’s mission is to provide “morale, welfare, and recreation-type services to uniformed personnel.” Every person that has traveled through a major airport in the United States has seen the signs and lounges that the USO hosts to support military members traveling away from their families, all by volunteers and largely through donations. Many people aren't aware of similar lounges in deployed locations, also supported by volunteers. Chartered by Congress as a non-profit charitable corporation, the USO receives no direct government funding. However, the President of the United States is the Honorary Chairman, and the Secretary of Defense has endorsed the USO every year since its inception in 1941. Each year, the USO requests a grant from the U.S. government of $20M. Last year, that represented approximately 10% of both the USO's support and revenue as well as its expenses. Given the historical pressures that uniformed members of the military are facing, there is a need for long-term budgeting for enduring family support through the USO.
Family support and quality of life is a key factor for military retention.
Family support and quality of life is a key factor for military retention- 93 percent of married service members stay in the military with spousal support, compared to 44 percent without. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated many of the pre-existing challenges faced by military families, such as unemployment and underemployment by military spouses, mental health resources, and education for military children. Financial strain from the pandemic has increased the number of military families experiencing food insecurity to 160,000. The PCS cycle experienced by military families throughout the service member’s career puts strain on employment, education, personal relationships, mental health, and community engagement. As the gaps grow between the American public and military families as fewer individuals volunteer for military service, the gap of understanding puts stress on employment opportunities, engagement, and resources. The lack of availability of consistent child care is a significant impediment to both military spouse employment and overall readiness, as family stressors impact the service member's focus on the military mission. Individually, the stresses placed on military families through unemployment, new schools, and mental health are significant; put together with the lack of awareness from the general public military family challenges are increasing.
Read the full article from RealClearDefense.
More from CNAS
Bad Idea: Relying on the Same Old Solutions to Meet the Military Recruitment Challenge
Military service provides the sense of mission, purpose, and stability that members of Gen Z seek that few other options offer....
By Katherine L. Kuzminski & Tom Spoehr
Getting to Ground Truth on the Reach of Domestic Violent Extremist Groups into the Military, Veteran, and Law Enforcement Communities
On Jan. 17, three active-duty Marines, Cpl. Micah Coomer, Sgt. Joshua Abate, and Sgt. Dodge Dale Hellonen, were each charged with four misdemeanors in connection with the Jan....
By Katherine L. Kuzminski, Carrie Cordero & Arona Baigal
Recruiting Women to the Military
Kate Kuzminski, director of the Military, Veterans, and Society Program at Center for a New American Security, joined Government Matters to discuss recruiting, and women in th...
By Katherine L. Kuzminski
Stop Holding Recruits to One-Size-Fits-All Standards
Whether they are in uniform or not, if the military doesn’t attract these data scientists, engineers, and coders, it will continue to fall short of its recruiting goals, and m...
By LCDR Stewart Latwin & Lt Col Ernest "Nest” Cage