Veterans and their Spouses Research

Part
01
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Part
01

Veteran Digital and Media Consumption Habits

Veterans consume more traditional media than other US adults. Similar to other US adults, one in five (18.8%) veterans spends one to two hours a day on social media activities. California, Texas, and Florida have the most number of veterans in the United States.

Television Consumption

  • According to Nielsen, veterans in the United States are 38% more likely to watch television and 23% more likely to be heavy television viewers than other US adults.
  • Television programs veterans typically watch include movies (57.8%), local evening news (54.2%), and documentaries (42.3%).
  • Eighty-one percent of military recruitment advertising is done on television and 10% on digital.

Newspaper Consumption

  • According to Nielsen, veterans in the United States are 25% more likely to read the newspaper and 12% more likely to be heavy newspaper readers than other US adults.
  • Over half (50.3%) of veterans say that they read the front page section of the newspaper.

Radio Consumption

  • Veterans are keen radio listeners. A quarter (25%) listen to the news/talk format, and roughly one in five listen to country (20.2%) and adult contemporary (19%).

Digital Consumption

  • Veterans visit social networking sites and use the internet and mobile apps just as much as other US adults.
  • Around one in five (18.8%) veterans spend an average of one to two hours on social networking sites (similar to other US adults).
  • Other than social media, veterans use the internet and apps for "search engines, career/job seeker sites, video content, sports, banking, and national news".
  • Only 10% of military recruitment advertising is done on digital media, compared to 15% for both university and employment recruitment.
  • Facebook and YouTube are the most popular social media platforms among veterans.
  • Some popular websites veterans visit (by category):
    • Personal finance and promotions: The Military Wallet, Coupon Follow, and Promo Codes for You
    • Travel: United, Greyhound, Budget, and Avis
    • News: NY Magazine, and News Max
  • The top five veterans blogs and online forums based on the number of Facebook fans:
    • Veterans United Network — Real Estate: 1,647,955 fans
    • Veterans news and information (Reddit): 1,298,329 fans
    • The Veterans Site Blog: 802,737 fans
    • Task & Purpose: 600,552 fans
    • Veterans of Foreign Wars Magazine: 598,723 fans
  • Veterans United Network — Real Estate: 1,647,955 fans
  • Veterans news and information (Reddit): 1,298,329 fans

Where do Veterans Live?

  • According to the US Census Bureau, there were 18.2 million veterans in the United States in 2017. Veterans made up 7.3% of the national population.
  • States with the highest number of veterans:
  • States where the veteran concentration is highest:
    • Alaska: 11.9% (64,057 veterans)
    • Montana: 10.6% (86,787 veterans)
    • Virginia: 10.6% (687,271 veterans)
    • Wyoming: 10.2% (44,499 veterans)
    • Hawaii: 9.8% (106,123 veterans)
    • Maine: 9.7% (104,728 veterans)
    • Washington: 9.4% (535,293 veterans)
    • New Mexico: 9.3% (148,310 veterans)
    • South Carolina: 9.3% (362,121 veterans)
    • Oklahoma: 9.1% (269,154 veterans)

Research Strategy

In order to find the popular apps and websites, and email usage, we searched for media-focused research reports published by agencies such as Nielsen and Kantar. While we found a Nielsen report that provided statistics and insights relevant to our research, it did not contain any data pertaining to email and online forum usage. Our next strategy was to search in veteran-related portals like Veterans Advantage, US Veteran Magazine, the US Department of Veteran Affairs and media sources like USA Today and Forbes as industry and media domains often make references to research data. However, this strategy did not result in any success either. Given the unavailability of information, we triangulated the popular or valued websites and gathered insights on digital media consumption using SimilarWeb data. We performed a domain traffic analysis of three veteran-oriented domains: va.gov (the US Department of Veteran Affairs website), usveteransmagazine.com, and veteransadvantage.com.

The US Department of Veteran Affairs website (va.gov) is a website for veterans in the United States. The traffic channels to this website provide insights on digital media consumption. The channels through which traffic gets directed to va.gov are as follows:

- Direct: 43.64%
- Organic search: 34.55%
- Email: 12.03%
- Referrals: 5.93%
- Social: 3.54%
- Paid search: 0.2%
- Display ads: 0.11%

Social media via which visitors reach va.gov:
- Facebook: 52.88%
- YouTube: 34.11%
- Twitter: 4.78%
- Reddit: 3.53%
- Linkedin: 1.14%
- Others: 3.55%

Advertisements that direct users to va.gov are likely to be placed on websites frequented by veterans. Therefore, the top publishers of veteran ads are likely to be the ones with high veteran traffic.

Display advertisement through which users get directed to va.gov:

Similarly, we did an analysis of the veteransadvantage.com domain traffic:
Channel traffic:
- Direct: 34.15%
- Organic search: 38.08%
- Referrals: 19.63%
- Display ads: 3.56%
- Email: 2.73%
- Social: 1.85%

Referral traffic:

Social traffic:
- YouTube: 48.24%
- Facebook: 46.63%
- Linkedin: 5.13%

Display advertisement traffic:

Analysis of usveteranmagazine.com domain.
Referrals:

Social Traffic:
- Facebook: 81.09%
- Reddit: 18.91%

From the above data, we observe that Facebook and YouTube are popular social media platforms among veterans. While there are no commonalities in referral websites or display advertisement websites across the domains we analyzed, we identified possible popular websites across categories like travel, news, and personal finance and promotions. United, Greyhound, Budget, and Avis are travel brands via which the veteransadvantage.com domain was accessed. The Military Wallet, Coupon Follow, Promo Codes for You are some promotional and personal finance domains on which Veterans Advantage advertises. NY Magazine and News Max are news portals that veterans visit. From the above data, we also gather that email usage is prevalent, but could not gather whether veterans are less or more engaged on email. Neither do we gather any similar insights pertaining to online forums.







Part
02
of six
Part
02

Veteran's Spouse Digital and Media Consumption Habits

Information on digital and media consumption habits of the spouses of military veterans, is not available. Likely, the spouses of military veterans are not much studied on this subject. However, we were able to find interesting data related to the topic.

Insights

  • Military spouses appreciated the ability to communicate and connect with others via social media.
  • They also described distressing aspects of social media use (e.g., stalking, derogatory postings, and discovering upsetting information during deployment before the news is public).
  • Military spouses also use social media to stay connected with family and friends.
  • Social media can be especially useful for maintaining contact with deployed spouses and other military spouses.
  • Military spouses use social networking sites to connect with others who understand what they are experiencing and who can provide support when needed.
  • Furthermore, military spouses use social networking sites to seek informational support (e.g., the status of their deployed spouse), formal resources in their areas, including local points of contact and resources (e.g., family readiness groups, military and family life consultants, chaplains), and emotional support.

Other Helpful Findings

  • A study on the role of online communication in the lives of military spouses cited that the use of online communication and social media platforms assisted and impacted the military spouses in communicating with their deployed service members.
  • 478,963 individuals are married to active-duty enlisted military personnel.
  • Over half of all these military spouses are 30 years of age or younger.
  • Overall, 66% of military spouses are in the labor force, including 41% in the civilian labor force, 13% in the armed forces, and 12% currently unemployed and seeking work.

Your Research Team Applied The Following Strategy

To find out the digital and media consumption habits, their engagement on social media, email, online forums, or certain websites, mediums that they engage with most, the apps and websites they value and where they live regionally in the US, we started working on this request by first checking the surveys, case studies and researches, conducted on this subject as they would the ideal sources which includes credible data based on real-life studies. Their results could have helped us determine the information which in turn could have been used to answer the required criteria. Checking for surveys, case studies, researches, through databases like research gate, academia, sheerid, ivmf, refuelagency, among others, we were unable to cite any surveys, case studies, researches that covered military veterans spouse data. These, however, had some data on non-veteran military spouses and their connection with digital media. The same was included as relevant findings. Hence, this strategy did not yield any relevant results.

Next, we moved on to check for military veteran industry reports on work-life balance. The logic here was to check if they use digital media as a tool to maintain their work and life balance. Within this scope, we were also hoping to find data on their spouses. Checking through reports from reach families, "Institute of Veterans and Military Families", US Chamber Foundation, NCSL, among others we could best cite data on the non-veteran military spouse. NCSL included data on veterans (men and women) separately but it was not for a spouse rather was individual and did not have any relevant data on digital and media consumption habits, their engagement on social media, email, online forums, or certain websites, mediums that they engage with most, the apps and websites they value and where they live regionally in the US. During this strategy, we came across an online journal of military spouses which specifically cited that there is a dearth of research on the lives of the spouses of military veterans. Hence, this strategy had a dead end and could not be taken further.
We then moved on to check data on the military veterans' spouse communities that are formed on social media platforms. The idea here was to find out at least 8-10 such communities or groups with the maximum number of followers and then present that platform as potentially the website or app they value. The same strategy could also have led us to check the locations of these military veteran spouses, however, it would have required a manual checking of every profile but it could have still been accomplished basis the commonality regions found in most of the groups. While this would a very wide way to go, it would have still helped us answer some part of this request. During this strategy, we also looked for information on how military veteran spouse consumes news, stay in touch with their families in general, their usage of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to answer the digital and media consumption habits and the engagement on social media, email, online forums, or certain websites. We looked for this information in direct publications from well know social media platforms like those mentioned above and then tried to filter out to usages by the military veteran spouses. The result of this strategy was data on some of the best apps for military families, and similar other data instead of any direct social media publications, that could be potentially used to answer the request.
Part
03
of six
Part
03

Veteran Demographics

In 2018, 26.5% of the total military veteran population in the United States were aged 65 to 74 years old. In 2018, 90.8% of the veteran population were males. In 2017, 64.7% of the male veteran population were married.

Age - Total (2018)

Gender - Total, 18 Years and Over (2018)

Income Level - Total, 18 Years and Over with Income (2018)

Educational Level - Total, 25 Years Old and Over (2018)

Marital Status - Male, 17 Years and Over (2017, latest available)

Marital Status - Female, 17 Years and Over (2017, latest available)

Part
04
of six
Part
04

Veteran Spouse Demographics

Due to a lack of more recent demographic data on the United States military veteran spouses, the research team has provided data from the last-published survey of veterans by the Department of Veteran Affairs. From the report, only 13.6% of veteran spouses are younger than 45 years. Also, 20.9% of veteran spouses have a bachelor's degree.

Demographic Data Based on the 2010 National Survey of Veterans

Gender

  • Five percent of all veteran spouses are male, while only 0.8% of surviving spouses are male.
  • Therefore, 95% of all veteran spouses are female, while 99.2% of surviving spouses are female.

Age

  • Only 13.6% of veteran spouses are younger than 45 years. On the other hand, 1.5% of surviving spouses are under the age of 45.
  • Veteran spouses aged between 45 and 54 years account for 22.6% of all veteran spouses. Only 5% of surviving spouses fall under this age group.
  • 29.1% of veteran spouses are aged between 54 and 64 years, while 11.7% of surviving spouses fall in this category.
  • 20.4% of veteran spouses are aged between 65 and 74 years, while 23.6% of surviving spouses fall within this age group.
  • Veteran spouses aged 75 and above account for 14.4% of all veteran spouses, while 58.2% of surviving spouses fall under this category.

Education Level

  • Only 3% of veteran spouses achieved less than high school qualification; for surviving spouses, this figure was 14%.
  • 32% of veteran spouses have a high school diploma or GED. For surviving spouses, this figure was 42.4%.
  • 33.7% of veteran spouses achieve some form of college credit or AA, while only 26.9% of surviving spouses fall under this category.
  • 20.9% of veteran spouses have a bachelor's degree, while 10.6% of surviving spouses had the same education level.
  • 9.6% of veteran spouses have a master's degree or higher, while only 6.1% of surviving spouses have a similar education level.

Income

  • 7.9% of veteran spouses earn less than $20,000. On the other hand, 44% of surviving spouses reported a similar income.
  • 21.4% of veteran spouses earn between $20,000 and less than $40,000, while 38.1% of surviving spouses fall within this income bracket.
  • 21.3% of veteran spouses earn between $40,000 and less than $60,0000, while 10.2% of surviving spouses fall within this income bracket.
  • 29.2% of veteran spouses earn between $60,000 and less than $100,000, while 5.2% of surviving spouses fall within this income bracket.
  • 20.2% of veteran spouses earn over $100,000, while only 2.5% of surviving spouses fall within this income bracket.

Employment

  • 46% of veteran spouses report working, while only 14.1% of surviving spouses reported the same.
  • On the other hand, 4.9% of veteran spouses and 1.9% of surviving spouses report "not working, but looking for work."
  • 49% of veteran spouses are not working and are not looking for work; 84.1% of surviving spouses fall into this category.

More Recent Employment Insights

  • According to a survey by the United States Chamber of Commerce, 16% of military spouses and spouses of recent veterans were unemployed in 2017.
  • In Monster's 'Military Spouse Employment Survey 2019' with a sample size of 305 spouses of active duty military and veterans who have been out of active duty for fewer than 10 years (25 are spouses of active duty military members; 170 are spouses of veterans who have been out of active duty for fewer than five years; and 110 are spouses of veterans who have been out of active duty for between five and 10 years), the following employment insights were found:
    • Seventy percent of respondents said they had trouble finding jobs that are of interest to them while 67% find it difficult getting jobs that match their expertise and experience.
    • 71% of respondents found it difficult to establish a career path.
    • Only 47% of respondents disclose their status on their application, while 53% do not. Spouses whose partners have been out of active duty for five years or fewer are more likely to not disclose their status when compared with spouses whose partners have been out of active duty for 10 years or fewer (61% vs. 53%).

Research Strategy

To build the demographic profile of veteran spouses, we began our research by looking through military and veteran-related government organizations such as the United States Department of Veteran Affairs and Military One Source of the military for reports that provided demographic data on veteran spouses. While these sources provided reports with demographic data, the reports were focused on either active duty members only or military veterans only. The only survey that provided demographic data on veteran sources was last published in 2010. As this report was beyond Wonder's two-years source policy, we continued our research.

Our next strategy was to check other government databases such as the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In particular, we use the FactFinder tool provided by the Census Bureau to see if demographic data of veteran spouses have been recently published. While we found many veteran-related data via the FactFinder advanced search tool, most were focused on veteran status, the period of military service, and median income amongst others. Similarly, the BLS website only provides insights and data on the employment status of veterans, with nothing on their spouses.

We then shifted our attention to third-party organizations working with or reporting on veterans and military spouses such as the National Conference of State Legislatures and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Although the NCSL has published many articles on veterans and military spouses (here and here), the demographic data provided in these sources were on veterans only and spouses of active military personnel. On the other hand, the reports such as IMLS's 'Supporting Veterans and Military Families: Understanding The Community' only provided insights on some of the challenges faced by veteran and military families.

We also explored surveys such as Monster's 'Military Spouse Employment Survey 2019' and reports from the White House to see if we could pool together more recent demographic data on veteran spouses. The Monster survey only provided insights into the general employment reality of veteran spouses, while the White House report also focused on the experience of military spouses in the labor market. Due to the lack of more recent demographic data on veteran spouses, we have provided the data provided by the 2010 National Survey of Veterans as it is the only comprehensive source on the subject matter.

According to IMLS, " no single entity tracks veterans after service. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) only records veterans who voluntarily and pro-actively connect with them. And that is a fairly limited number, as only 27.5 percent of veterans nationwide use the healthcare benefits they may be eligible to receive by the VA." This provides the most plausible reason why there is no recent demographic data of military veteran spouses in the United States.


Part
05
of six
Part
05

Veteran Psychographics

Military veterans are natural leaders, respectful and knowledgeable on trends in technology. They vote more than the general population and prefer traditional media and entertainment. They generally do not complain and they view military promotions with suspicion. Below, we have provided a psychographic profile of military veterans in the United States.

Values

  • Veterans are natural leaders, having been trained to be responsible for tasks, resources and their behavior. They know how and when to give and take orders. They also have a strong work ethic and understand the value of teamwork due to military camaraderie.
  • They live by "a strong code of ethics and core values", and are good at handling stressful situations. They also believe in diversity and inclusion, having traveled extensively and worked with all types of people.

Habits

  • Although veterans prefer traditional media and entertainment such as newspapers and television, a fifth of them spend one to two hours a day on social networking sites.
  • Veterans love to spend time outside. They are 19% more likely than the average adult to maintain their lawns, 14% more likely to spend their free time fishing, 35% more likely to participate in hunting activities and 20% more likely to golf. The percentage of veterans who have participated in different kinds of outdoor activities in the past year is as follows:
      • Lawn care: 70%
      • Grilling/outdoor cooking: 63%
      • Gardening: 49%
      • Fishing: 28%
      • Volunteer work: 26%
      • Golf: 15%
      • Hunting: 12%
      • Continuing education classes: 10%
    • Veterans also like to give back to the community. They are 15% more likely than the average adult to donate to religious organizations, 166% more likely than average Americans to donate to veteran or military causes, and 60% more likely than the average adult to donate to political organizations. The percentage of veterans who have donated to different kinds of organizations in the past year is as follows:
      • Religious: 39%
      • Military/veterans: 37%
      • Other organizations: 22%
      • Health Care/medical: 14%
      • Social care/welfare: 14%
      • Political: 11%
      • Arts/cultural: 7%
    • Veterans are heavy media users; 25% more likely to read newspapers and 38% more likely to watch TV than the average U.S. adult. They are 28% more likely to watch sports programs than the general U.S. population, 28% more likely to watch local evening news, 18% more likely to watch the local morning news, more likely to watch documentaries and less likely to watch movies. The percentage of veterans who have watched different kinds of genres in the past year is as follows:
      • Movies: 64%
      • Sports: 57%
      • Local News/Evening: 57%
      • Comedies: 50%
      • Local News/Morning: 46%
      • Documentaries: 44%
      • Mystery/Suspense/Crime: 40%
      • National/Network news: 36%
      • Dramas: 32%
      • Science Fiction: 28%
      • Local News/Late: 26%
      • Reality/Adventure: 17%
      • Court Shows: 14%
      • Religious: 12%
      • Late night talk: 11%
      • Reality/talent: 10%
    • In addition, veterans are active shoppers, with their households spending 16% more and taking 14% more shopping trips than the average U.S. household. However, veterans are less likely to shop at grocery stores than the average American. Their money is distributed among different types of stores as follows:
        • Grocery: 36%
        • Super centers: 23%
        • Club: 13%
        • Military: 8%
        • Others: 20%
      • Veteran households spend more than the average U.S. household on pet food, vitamins, drinks, and tobacco and related accessories; and they spend less on baby food, shaving supplies, canning and freezing supplies, vegetables and grains. After retiring their uniform, veterans spend over $700 million annually on apparel.
      • Older veteran households and veteran households with no children are 74% more likely to buy vitamins than the general population. In addition, veterans’ households are 57% more likely to buy school and office supplies, driven by married families with no children as well as those with children under the age of six.
      • Veterans have pride for the country they served; 83% always vote in presidential elections (18% more than the average American) and 63% always vote in statewide elections (35% more than the average American).
      • Veterans' use of social and mobile apps is the same as that of non-veteran consumers. They respond to military-targeted content marketing because they relate to each other through shared hardship. The types of content that resonate with them the most include video, images and stories.
      • Veterans use digital platforms for national news, career searches, search engines, banking, video content and sports.
      • About 50% of millennial veterans frequently visit military-specific websites, which is three times as much as veterans aged 35 and above. In addition, 50% of younger veterans heavily read military-related magazines, and are much more likely than older veterans to read these publications.

Attitudes

  • Due to their military training, veterans believe that "there is a right and wrong way" to do things, and anyone trying to reach them should take the time to get it right.
  • They also tend to view military promotions with suspicion because many scammers pursue them with opportunities and deals.
  • Moreover, veterans generally do not complain because they are used to hardship. They however, fear failure because they are used to making decisions that have life or death consequences.
Part
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of six
Part
06

Veteran Spouse Psychographics

After an exhaustive search through industry-related reports, consumer reports, government websites and other resources, there is no publicly available data on the psychographics of the spouses of military veterans in the United States. Below, we have provided an outline of our research methodology for a better understanding of why the information is publicly unavailable, as well as some helpful insights on the psychographics of military spouses in the United States.

Helpful Insights: Values and attitudes of military spouses

Habits

  • Over 90% of military spouses focus on shopping from businesses that offer military discounts, and 70% would be willing to travel about 15 miles to shop from stores or businesses with strong military discounts. They also love sharing the discounts they find if the experience was good. In addition, they mostly spend their money online due to their high levels of mobility and relocation.
  • Military spouses and families prefer buying items rather than renting or leasing, especially when it comes to big-ticket items like homes and cars. 95% of them prefer buying cars instead of taking out a lease. However, they still look for discounts as 81% prefer to buy cars from manufacturers offering military discounts.
  • Military spouses and families spend about three times more than the general population on vacations and related expenses due to the separation of their families. They also travel five times as much as the general population. Over 50% of them use the availability of discounts for service members to plan their travels.
  • Military spouses and families change their addresses twice as much as the average family. On average, military spouses move every 2.9 years. 67% of military spouses who are forced to relocate also have to quit their jobs.
  • At least a third of military spouses have attempted to start or considered starting their own businesses. According to the Blue Star Families Military Families Lifestyle Survey, they are three times more likely to volunteer than the general population, usually taking leadership roles in military and community institutions.

Values

  • Trust is important to veteran spouses; they have to know which businesses they can trust due to the fact that scammers prey on them a lot.
  • Military spouses demonstrate commitment to the country and service members by enduring the various challenges and stress that they face. They also demonstrate strength and resiliency.
  • Military spouses demonstrate a genuine concern for others due to the military culture of "service before self."
  • Due to the fact that they have to move around a lot, military spouses are highly flexible and adaptable to new cultures, employment options and environments. They have diverse skills and talents because they constantly get new jobs.
  • Military spouses place a high importance on money due to the financial hardship that they face. They also desire some kind of recognition.
  • Moreover, military spouses value their independence. They also value knowledge, and find fulfillment in learning new skills.
  • Military spouses love to feel like they are part of a family. They constantly look for other military spouses for friendship and networking and use social media at a higher rate than the general population. They also understand how to align with a vision due to the fact that they constantly have to make sacrifices to align with their partners' commitment to the nation. 

Attitudes

  • Military spouses are budget conscious because it is hard for them to maintain jobs due to constant relocation. They would also prefer full time or permanent work as opposed to the part-time or seasonal employment that they find themselves in. 77% of employed military spouses believe that it is important for them to have two incomes.
  • According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, military spouses' perception of their financial well-being is as follows:
    • Well-off: 5%
    • Comfortable: 50%
    • Living paycheck to paycheck: 38%
    • Struggling: 6%
  • The challenges that military spouses face cause a lot of stress to them. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation the perceived sources of stress in their lives are as follows:
    • Deployment: 61%
    • Leaving behind friends and family when moving: 52%
    • Finding work or managing their careers: 47%
    • Moving from one duty station to another: 44%
    • Making new friends: 42%
    • Military paperwork and bureaucracy: 34%
    • Enrolling children in a new school: 29%
  • Military spouses also feel a loss of self-identity because the society focuses more on their spouses' careers.

Research Strategy

In order to provide the psychographics of the spouses of military veterans in the United States, we started our research by looking through consumer research websites such as Nielsen, Influence Central and BBB. We were hoping that these sources would provide us with helpful insights on veteran spouse psychographics because they usually provide in-depth information on the habits, values and attitudes of different kinds of consumers. However, this strategy proved futile as we were only able to find the psychographics of veterans and military spouses.
Next, we checked industry-related sites such as Sheer ID, Viqtory, Military.com, among others. These sources provide information on marketing and creating jobs for veterans and their families in particular, and usually contain information on their habits and values. We were hoping to find some helpful insights on the values, habits and attitudes of veteran spouses. However, once again, we were not able to find any relevant information from these sources, as the only available information was that regarding veterans, members of the military and military spouses.

Lastly, we looked through government websites such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and White House, among others, which contain research done on members of the military community including demographics, values and habits, and what is being done to help them. However, we were only able to find information on veterans, members of the military and military spouses. We also could not assume that the psychographics of military spouses are similar to those of veteran spouses because there are post military differences, therefore their pain points are not exactly the same. We have, however, included the insights we found on military spouses as helpful findings above.




Sources
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