A Soldier’s Life: Maintaining a High Quality of Living

By Mavia Hanson, Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and ReadinessOctober 23, 2023

A Soldier’s Life: Maintaining a High Quality of Living
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“We believe that Soldiers and their Families are entitled to the same quality of life as is afforded the Americans they are pledged to defend, and that’s why we’re working every day as their advocate to make that a reality,” says Dee Geise, the Director of the Army’s G-9 Directorate of Prevention, Resilience and Readiness.

The Army’s number one priority is Soldiers and their well-being. That’s why four years ago the secretary and chief of staff of the Army directed the creation of the Quality-of-Life Task Force. The task force’s charter was just renewed for another three years this past March.

The task force’s mission is to holistically review the full range of Army care, support and enrichment programs, with an initial emphasis on housing, health care, childcare, spouse employment, PCS moves, and support and resilience. The Army is taking care of military Families so Soldiers can take care of the mission.

Geise shared that the core pillars making up a high-quality life for Soldiers are a multidimensional, multi-domain concept that looks at the standard of health, comfort and happiness by an individual group or individuals.

“Broadly speaking, the domains such as health, housing, employment, schools and neighborhoods are important to quality of life, but so are the aspects of spirituality, relationships and one’s personal values and beliefs–so it is a complex subject,” says Geise.

“I think we are absolutely focusing on the right pillars of housing, healthcare, childcare, spouse employment and PCS moves. As we move into the next three years, we will incorporate those other aspects, including social services, financial readiness, support for Families with special needs, finances, etc.,” says Geise.

So, what are some of the correlates to achieving optimal quality of life in the Army?

“Quality and affordable childcare is necessary to allow Soldiers to focus on their mission without worrying about the safety and security of their children,” says Geise. “Childcare also plays an important role in spouse employment and that leads to financial security. So that one program is such an important puzzle piece to quality of life and overall readiness.”

Geise says the Army is trying to recruit and retain more child and youth care professionals by enhancing pay and staffing childcare providers.

“We’ve increased entry-level, direct childcare staff compensation from $16.70 to $17.39,” Geise says, “and our staffing for direct care is currently at 76 percent across the force. As we continue to build more CDCs, they will fill a critical need for parents and provide more job opportunities for providers, especially military spouses.”

Another important correlate to quality of life happens during a PCS move. “We know this is typically a very stressful time for Soldiers and Families, so investing and improving the move process is paramount,” says Geise.

But there is also a link to spouse employment, because as a Soldier and Family move, the spouse often must stop working and find new employment.

“It is important we have resources on both sides of the move to help make this transition as easy as possible,” she adds. “The goal is to ensure Soldiers are aware and have access to all resources at their disposal so they and their Families can thrive.”

One of the initiatives the Army introduced to assist military spouses is the Civilian Employment Assignment Tool, or CEAT.

“CEAT enables current non-appropriated fund employees to voluntarily request a noncompetitive transfer from one Army installation to another where the same position is available," says Geise. “This is very important for our child and youth program professionals.”

According to Geise, the Army is also increasing readiness by implementing innovative initiatives to increase spouse employment opportunities throughout their Soldier’s military career. The Army is working through the DOD’s Military Spouse Employment Partnership to connect military spouses to over 610 U.S. employers committed to recruiting, hiring, promoting and retaining military spouses.

Armed with the knowledge of what makes for a high-quality life and the obstacles that prevent Soldiers from achieving it, many Army members may wonder where that leaves them for next steps.

“Everyone has a standard of quality of life, but it is different for everyone, and it changes over time,” she says. “I think people would agree that a person’s measure of the quality of their life at 20 is much different than it is at 40 or 50. It’s not necessarily better or worse, but it is different.

"Understanding that quality-of-life aspects may change over time is the first step in addressing obstacles that may get in your way."

Geise says, “One of the common obstacles that I hear all the time is awareness and knowledge of available programs and services. The Army provides a lot of great resources for our Soldiers and Families, but I so often hear, ‘I wish I would have known about that when I was a private’ or, ‘I wish I would have taken advantage of that earlier.’”

That is why the Quality-of-Life Task Force takes advantage of technology with the following resources:

·      The Digital Garrison app:

o  Provides facility and quality-of-life services specific to each garrison. It puts real-time installation information in everyone’s pocket.

o  Is customizable to meet individual needs and includes an installation directory, gate locations/hours, fitness and recreation options, shopping, weather, event information and more.

o  Features push notifications for emergencies where installation officials can send notifications.

·      My Army PCS app:

o  Is a knowledge-based app designed to enhance the relocation experience.

o  Is an organized hub of information on entitlements, types of moves, how to plan/ schedule a move, claims, etc.

o  Helps educate users regarding allowances and responsibilities in the event a claim for loss and/or damage needs to be filed.

·      Advancements in virtual health

o  Virtual health allows patients to connect to a medical provider no matter where they are.

These are just a few of the ways the Quality-of-Life Task Force brings together different efforts to improve personal readiness and quality of life.

To learn more about quality-of-life resources and programs, visit QOL Task Force here.