STUDY OF DUAL-SERVICE OFFICER RETENTION IN THE U.S. NAVY AND U.S. MARINE CORPS
Kocis, Nathalie C.
Sonntag, Kimberly J.
Eitelberg, Mark J.
Tick, Simona L.
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Since the all-volunteer force began, the number of dual-service marriages has risen. Retention of diverse, skilled personnel is critical to national security. This study examines retention rates of Navy and Marine Corps officers by focusing on marital status and identifies themes in dual-service experiences to explain retention behavior. Quantitative multivariate data analysis of 27,126 officers commissioned from 1998 to 2003 is used to identify factors such as marital status, gender, race, and commissioning source to explain retention outcomes. Regression analyses indicate that dual-service officers have higher retention rates than their single counterparts across time. However, compared with officers married to civilians, dual-service officers tend to retain at similar rates early in their careers but at lower rates after 10 years of service. Focus group discussions reveal that navigating a rigid career path while maintaining a family in a system with varying support and flexibility can strongly influence a dual-service officer’s decision to remain in military service. Policy changes addressing concerns regarding colocation and more flexible career paths are an ongoing approach to retaining dual-service officers. Future research should be expanded to include a larger population representing all occupational fields, ranks, education, and parental status.
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