The effect of army support services on satisfaction with army life experienced by partners of service personnel and their subsequent willingness to remain within the military enclave : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters of Arts in Psychology at Massey University
The present short-term study is a survey of the effect of Army support services on satisfaction with Army life as experienced by partners of service personnel and their subsequent willingness to remain within the military enclave. It aimed to elicit the personal perspective of partners on deployment issues, the efficacy of current Army support services, and attitudes to continuing an association with the Army. Participants were recruited from the families of those soldiers who had returned from peacekeeping deployments between January to July 2000. New Zealand Army Administration staff supplied a list of 317 addresses. Of these, 291 partners could be contacted by mail and subsequently 184 individuals returned a completed 16-page New Zealand Partner Support Survey (2000) questionnaire. This questionnaire elicited data about: socio-demographic characteristics; perceived support; Army support services; general issues; potential deployment problems; general health (GHQ-30); parenting issues and anecdotal narratives. Using quantitative methods the data was analyzed with an additional aim to collect data for a future longitudinal study on the retention of Army personnel. The participants' anecdotal narratives showed that deployments do impact the family and that family factors such as attitudes to Army lifestyle and support services do influence the soldiers' decision to remain in service. The study revealed that partners tend to mainly expect support from the Army with what they perceive is an Army related problem. These issues primarily concerned communication links with deployed partners and dissemination of information regarding soldiers. Based on this evidence it is suggested that the Army consolidate current support services to establish positions of full-time, dedicated Information Officers. The main responsibility of this position would be to liase between the soldiers' families and the Army. From this short-term study it is apparent that the decision to remain in service can be influenced by the Army's demonstration that the soldiers' families are valued members of the Military community. The provision of a quality support service specifically tailored to meet the needs of those it purports to serve is tangible evidence of this regard.