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Army Study Confirms Recreation, Family Programs Linked to Readiness, Retention

Aug 16, 2007
BY Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 16, 2007) - The Army has announced results from a recently completed study that identified positive, measurable links between Soldiers' use of recreation and Family programs and readiness and retention.

The study, funded by the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command, found a significant relationship and a positive, direct link between active-duty Soldiers' use of recreation and Family programs and their desire to stay in Army, their career intentions, and their satisfaction with Army life. These links also held true for programs use by the spouses of active-duty Soldiers.

"Now we can demonstrate that the recreation and Family programs we have in place do make a difference," said Brig. Gen. Belinda Pinckney, FMWRC commander.

The study measured the strength of the links in terms of overall program use and against four distinct groups of programs: child and youth programs and services; sports and fitness programs; food and beverage operations; and recreation, tour and travel, and library programs and services.

The research also revealed a link between Soldiers' use of recreation and Family programs and their emotional attachment to the Army. The Soldiers' emotional attachment to the Army was found to have a very strong link to readiness and retention outcomes.

Of particular note is the finding that readiness and retention increase as program use increases, but these programs are used less frequently by junior officers and enlisted Soldiers and their spouses.

"We can strengthen the readiness of the Army by doing two things," Brig. Gen. Pinckney said. "Ensure that recreation and Family programs meet the needs of Soldiers and their Families, and increase their awareness of these programs."

The study, conducted by independent researchers, focused on two Army-wide surveys of Soldiers and two of spouses, containing responses from more than 25,000 Soldiers and 23,000 spouses. The researchers determined whether statistical significance existed between program use and the readiness and retention outcomes and then measured the strength ("effect size") of the associations.

Army survey data have consistently indicated that Soldiers and Families value recreation and Family programs, use them frequently, and consider them important to morale, retention and readiness. For years, however, program managers, policy makers and researchers have been confronted by the challenge of demonstrating a scientific, empirical link in what may be intuitively obvious.

Study findings will be integrated into recreation and Family program resource and marketing decisions, and will play an important role in designing future research to assess the impact of these programs over time. The study also will contribute to a holistic assessment of how Army programs and benefits available to active- and reserve-components contribute to readiness and retention.

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