ApeGrade Economics
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Financial Well-Being of Enlisted Personnel

Joining the military alters the lives of many Americans both in the past and present. Lots of prestige is attached to serving the U.S military. Various presidential hopefuls have successfully campaigned on this platform. However, little is known with respect to financial challenges faced by enlisted personnel as compared to their non-military colleagues. Few researchers who have ventured into this area have produced mixed results as will be discussed in this paper’s literature review section. However, in the recent past, more emphasis has been directed towards understanding the financial status as well as challenges faced by the enlisted persons (Henning, 2006). This paper is part of a broader study of the financial well-being of military personnel and the corresponding challenges. Greater emphasis is placed on establishing the acquiescence of the problems in order to enhance financial management.

Research questions

To deeply understand the overall financial well-being of the persons enlisted, a number of research questions will be used. The research questions will expose the underlying issues that affect the enlisted persons financially. The research questions include the following:

  1. Do the enlisted persons suffer from regular financial problems?
  2. What factors cause these financial problems?
  3. What type of help is accorded to the enlisted persons to address their financial problems?

Answering these questions is critical to understanding the financial well-being of the enlisted persons.

Research objectives

This research will seek to highlight the level of financial challenges faced by enlisted persons and the measures put in place to support the enlisted persons with respect to the financial challenges they face.

Literature review

Literature material on the financial situations of enlisted persons is not as extensive as literature materials in other subjects of social life. Despite being a leading nation in terms of economic performance, plenty of concern is still raised with regard to the financial well-being of citizens of the United States. A considerable number of Americans still live in economically undesirable conditions, enlisted persons included. Decisions made each day affect the financial well-being of the enlisted persons and as such, the decisions should be based on factual information rather than mere suppositions.

To help the enlisted personnel, it is important to understand the general challenges they face and their financial situations. A better understanding of the enlisted personnel can be achieved by reviewing the existing demographics as well as research materials that have addressed the subject area. Demographic factors which impact on the enlisted personnel include the hardships faced by their families, as well as the programs put in place to assist them. A closer look at the lives of enlisted personnel reveals information that society has long encountered without comprehending.

In a RAND report, a number of factors which are likely to put the enlisted persons at financial problem risk were identified. These are highlighted in the diagram below:

Financial challenges faced by enlisted persons
Figure 1: Financial challenges faced by enlisted persons

The historical context has done little to explore the parameters within which the military officers serve and how the parameters impact their socio-economic conditions. Various researchers acknowledge that financial situation is an effective measure of the socio-economic conditions of the enlisted. Henning (2006) adopted a quantitative research approach in which they conducted a regression analysis to evaluate how different factors contribute to the enlisted person’s financial situation.

Henning (2006) reviewed the history of military families dating back to the revolutionary period. In the study, Henning illustrated how the family setting has changed since then to the current scenario, noting that the current pay structure for the enlisted personnel served conditions back then, better than it does today. These sentiments are echoed in a quote from military news (2011) where one person stated,

“The current military pay structure made sense prior to the introduction of the All-Volunteer Force in 1973 when most E-1’s through E-4’s personnel were single. Programmed pay increases for E-5 and above were not simply based upon their greater knowledge, experience and longevity, but also on the fact that most E-5s and above had spouses and children to support. Because most E-1s through E-4s were single and married only after they were promoted or returned to civilian life, the pay they received proved adequate to meet their single expenses.”

As per Lipari (2006), the American military members were discouraged from forming families and sadly those who did were not re-enlisted. However, policies have changed since then and consequently the financial obligations.

In Lipari (2006) it was noted that whilst enlistment may in itself be a financial asset, it is quite a challenge to discern an all-embracing financial effect of the same to a family’s financial status. This report takes into consideration the fact that a family’s financial well-being is dependent on the entire household income and that the second income is a necessity to a stable financial life. Sadly, Barr (2010) notes that entry into work life by spouses of enlisted persons is rather sluggish compared to civilian spouses. They note that for as much as enlistment may be of benefit to the enlisted person, this benefit is not guaranteed to translate to the enlisted personnel’s family. This is attributed to the fact that enlistment often has a negative impact on the spouses earning capacity.

In Barr (2010), it was noted that the enlisted personnel, unlike the civilians are subjected to an exclusive organizational culture which may end up negatively impacting the financial stability of the personnel. They cite the frequent relocation as a major source of financial challenge to the enlisted personnel who find themselves in a quagmire as to what to or not to, invest in. Stanley (2010) described the military institution as one that denies the enlisted personnel privileges enjoyed by their civilian counterparts. Among the demands which affect the financial position of the enlisted personnel include its demand patterns, geographical mobility, and marital separation, among others. It is for this reason that the traits of enlisted personnel suffering from financial challenges and their families may be different from that of the civilian population.

In another research, Business Wire (2011) notes that having been drawn from the various quarters of the society the social characteristics of the military should reflect the national trends. However, various research highlights that the kind of financial distress suffered by the enlisted persons is by no means similar to the one exhibited by the civil society (Business Wire, 2011: Luther et al., 2005; Stanley, 2010). In the report, is was indicated that while most of the civilian population who file for bankruptcies do so for losing their income, among the enlisted persons, the same happens to persons who enjoy steady income, in addition to having access to healthcare.

A report by the national defense, acknowledges that the enlisted persons suffer a number of financial challenges but also points out various measures that have been put in place to assist them (Business Wire, 2011) However, the report notes that developed programs are caught up in a quagmire as to whether to engage in active or reactive measures in addressing the challenges. A key program mentioned in the report is the mandatory financial management class that the enlisted persons have been subjected to. However, the report faults the fact that such compulsion could end up subjecting those who don’t need such programs to the same.

In general, various literature materials present divergent opinions when it comes to financial issues among the enlisted persons. However, all agree that the financial challenges faced by the enlisted persons are by no means similar to the ones faced by the civilians, raising the question as to whether the support services available are really adequate.

Research Methodologies

This research will adopt both qualitative and quantitative methodology in answering the already stated research questions. Firstly, the research will quantify the relative frequencies with which the enlisted persons experience financial management challenges. Secondly, various factors which are perceived to lower or raise financial challenge risks will be evaluated. Finally, the research will seek to establish the kind of help being received by the enlisted persons and how these help is forwarded to them.

The information used in this research will be obtained from two major sources. The perceptional information will be obtained from a set of qualitative interviews relating to the financial situation of enlisted persons. Additional qualitative information will be obtained by interviewing various community support program directors and establish the kind of financial management services they advance to the enlisted persons. Additional information on the support services to the enlisted persons will be obtained via online literature research. Troop leaders, as well as service personnel will be interviewed. In this case, purposive sampling will be used, whereby the sample to be studied will be objectively selected. The study sample will be distributed across various ranks to establish whether their financial situations are uniform.

Study sample

The sample to be used in this study will constitute of troop leaders, support service organizations, the enlisted personnel and the families of the enlisted personnel. While the support services entities for the enlisted personnel will be used to establish the services advanced to the enlisted persons and related information, troop commanders and families will provide information regarding their perception of the level of financial challenges suffered by the enlisted. The enlisted persons will provide useful information regarding their financial situation and the financial challenges they suffer. Quantitative findings will be statistically tabulated and analyzed.


Comparison charts, frequency charts and scatter plots will be used to illustrate the findings of the research. Additionally, a correlation analysis will be done with the help of SPSS statistical tools to establish the relation between enlisted persons military grade and the level of financial challenges faced whereby the level of financial changes will be measured based on how often the enlisted persons have suffered financial challenges.


Barr, M. S. (2010). Financial Capability in the United States. Military Survey. Executive Summary.

Business Wire. (2011). Military Saves Week Targets Best Habits. Web.

Henning, C. A. (2006). Army Officer Shortages: Background and Issues for Congress. Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division: CRS Report for Congress

Lipari, R. N. (2006). The financial well-being of military Families. Department of Sociology.

Luther, R. et al. (2005). Scope and Impact of Personal Financial Management Difficulties of Service Members on the Department of the Navy. MFI Technical Report 97-1

Stanley, C. L. (2010). Military families deserve a strong consumer agency to protect them from unfair financial practices. U.S. Treasury Department.

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