Tomorrow, the military will mail paper surveys to 150,000 spouses of military servicemembers to gauge their reaction to repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. The survey is part of a larger Pentagon effort to study how allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would affect military and family life. It comes on the heels of a controversial and highly criticized survey of 400,000 active military and reserve members.
Pentagon sources tell me that this second questionnaire will be analyzed in a qualitative, rather than a quantitative manner. The military will try to assess if repealing the policy will affect military retention and recruitment, and the importance of the issue in the context of other concerns like educational opportunities and medical benefits. The Pentagon will work with groups like Servicemembers United to reach out to the spouses of gay and lesbian troops.
“We are asking the family members, if we were to change the law, are there any impacts at all that might affect family readiness and military community life,” DoD spokesperson Cynthia Smith told me. “We understand that military spouses play an important role in a servicemembers’ decision about whether or not they’re going to stay in the military. It’s a retention issue. It’s aslo a recruiting issue becaue we know that spouses are influencers in local communities.”
Interestingly, one source told me that the Pentagon expects DADT to rank low on the list of priorities and said that past focus groups have shown that family members have other, more pressing concerns.
Military spouses will have until September 27th to complete and mail in the survey.