Army, RAND partner on 'Today's Soldier Survey'

By U.S. ArmyNovember 6, 2014

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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 4, 2014) -- The Army and the RAND Corporation are working together to conduct a Soldier needs assessment survey, from September to December, at 45 Army installations.

The survey, called "Today's Soldier Survey," is available online to randomly selected active-duty Soldiers, who will be notified by e-mail that they have been selected to participate.

Soldiers will be able to respond to questions on problems they and their families have experienced over the past year. The results of this survey will help senior leaders identify the needs of Soldiers and their families, how Soldiers prioritize those needs, and how the Army can best address the most pressing unmet needs -- whether through Army-provided services or community and non-federal entity partnerships. The survey will end in December 2014.

"The challenges that face Soldiers and families are complex and diverse," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno. "As Army leaders, we're asking for input from our Soldiers to help us prioritize resources and services most important to them and to their families. We must ensure that support services are both needed and effective."

"This survey is a path for Soldiers to help senior Army leaders understand the Soldier's point of view," said Dr. Carra Sims, RAND project manager. "We need to understand how Soldiers prioritize problems and how they address those problems.

"Especially in a time of declining resources, the Army wants to be sure it is prioritizing services that are important to Soldiers. We want to be sure that services are effective in helping Soldiers manage their needs and the needs of their families."

This study is not to be confused with the Military Workplace Study administered by RAND at about the same time, Sims said.

"Our survey has a much broader focus," she said.

"Today's Soldier seeks to understand the challenges and needs of today's Soldiers and families in a general sense and covers domains ranging from military practices and culture to financial and legal issues," she said. "The focus is also solely on the Army, whereas the Military Workplace Study went to all services and the Coast Guard."

Traditional Department of Defense and Department of the Army evaluations ask Soldiers and family members about their use of existing on-post programs. This unique survey, however, places the experiences of today's Soldiers first, asking what types of problems they recently experienced, how they prioritized problems, if they sought help from Army or non-Army resources, and if they ultimately received the support they needed.

"Unchecked problems among Soldiers and their families can grow into time-consuming distractions for them, for units, and for commanders," said Sims. "Unmet needs can negatively affect Soldier and family well-being as well as unit morale, retention, and readiness."

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