Military families are known for their resilience through the deployment cycle and tackling multiple moves that take them state-to-state. The military family is a symbol of patriotism and strength, and many programs and states are working to better serve them and meet their needs when they relocate.
Along with the challenges of reintegration, separation and deployment, military families face challenges in frequent relocations.
Unique Challenges of the Guard and Reserves
Because National Guard and Reserve Component Military Families do not live on bases or military installations, they are dispersed across civilian communities. That means there are many military kids in these populations who are the only military kids in their schools and neighborhoods; they have no peers who understand what it’s like to deal with deployment.
Because Guard and Reserve Families are separated from bases and other full-time resources of active duty military, they often have less familiarity with benefits, groups, and systems. They are also more likely to have fewer support systems in place.
Common challenges Guard and Reserve families face include:
- Reduced access and eligibility for TRICARE
- Less contact with other military families
- High unemployment
- Inconsistent activation for deployment
- Fewer opportunities for promotion
Do Military Families Move More Often?
Military families are far more likely to move than their civilian counterparts. On average, they move nearly 2.5 times more often. According to U.S. census data, the average person will move about 12 times in their lifetime. That data breaks down to 9 times after age 18, and only 2 or 3 times after age 45. Over 7 million people moved to different states in 2012, with approximately 250,000 of those moving to Virginia. Almost 1 million of Virginians moved to new homes within the state during 2012. With a population of just over 8 million people, these moving rates are astounding.
There are at least 750,000 veterans living in Virginia, and even more active duty, Guard, and Reserve members and families. These families are even more likely to move within the state as they pursue new assignments within their units, face greater unemployment, and strive to serve their country in new capacities.
With 20 major military bases in Virginia, there will always be large year-to-year fluctuations for the military population in the state. With thousands of families relocating each year, more services are needed to serve this ever-changing population.
Because military families move more frequently, military spouses face a lot of challenges in maintaining and finding employment. Many military spouses are forced to give up jobs, take lower-paying jobs, or become under-employed in order to keep their family intact through many moves.
Why Are Military Families Moving More?
Because most military careers depend on regular promotions and because most promotions follow a specialization of service, military service members often have to move to specialized bases or installations to obtain new and better jobs. An E6 who specializes in Cyber Intelligence might be based in North Dakota, but if they get a promotion and want to specialize in Counter-Terrorism for Chemical Weapons, they may have to move to a southern state to work out of a specialized base. That means their whole family would need to relocate with them or face long-term separation.
Making the Move to Virginia Easier for Military Families
For military families new to Virginia, making the transition can be difficult and even confusing. Families have to consider everything from school registration to getting new state IDs and insurance. Families may also want to work with military-friendly professional Virginia movers who can help them settle into their new homes and communities. Working with professionals can make the difference between chaos and sanity for busy families transitioning to new jobs and schools simultaneously.