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First Command Reports: Sequestration worries impacting health of career military families

First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals connection between financial worries and physical and mental health issues in middle-class military families

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Concerns over defense cuts are negatively impacting the mental and physical health of America’s career military.

The First Command Financial Behaviors Index® reveals that health issues commonly associated with financial worries are widespread among military families who report high levels of concern over sequestration and the financial impact of anticipated cuts to defense spending. Eighty-four percent of middle-class military families (commissioned officers and NCOs in pay grades E-5 and above with household incomes of at least $50,000) who feel extremely or very anxious about sequestration also report that someone in their family has experienced one or more money-related health challenges during the past year. That compares to 69 percent of people who say they are either not anxious or only somewhat anxious about sequestration.

Significant differences between the anxious and not-so-anxious groups were identified for a wide range of health-related concerns, including:

  • Difficulty falling asleep (39 percent versus 28 percent)
  • Changes in appetite (28 percent versus 11 percent)
  • General increase in stress (28 percent versus 18 percent)
  • Increased feeling of anxiety (23 percent versus 13 percent)
  • Unhealthy diet (20 percent versus 10 percent)
  • Increased headaches and migraines (19 percent versus 7 percent)
  • Digestive tract problems (17 percent versus 7 percent)
  • Nausea or upset stomach (16 percent versus 5 percent)

The Index reveals that 74 percent of survey respondents say that during the past year someone in their household has experienced one or more mental or physical health-related issues commonly associated with financial worries. That’s statistically similar to the past two years, maintaining an increase from 65 percent in 2013 and 62 percent in 2012.

“Again this year, we see that ongoing concerns over sequestration and defense downsizing appear to be affecting the health of career service members and their families,” said Scott Spiker, CEO of First Command Financial Services, Inc. “Seven out of ten career military families say they are feeling anxious about sequestration. Less than half believe Congress will void sequestration before the full return to these automatic budget cuts in 2018. We remain committed to helping service members through this uncertain time by coaching them in healthy financial behaviors so they can get all aspects of their lives squared away.”

About First Command Financial Behaviors Index®

Compiled by Sentient Decision Science, Inc., the First Command Financial Behaviors Index® assesses trends among the American public’s financial behaviors, attitudes and intentions through a monthly survey of approximately 530 U.S. consumers aged 25 to 70 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000. Results are reported quarterly. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent with a 95 percent level of confidence. Financial Behaviors Index

About Sentient Decision Science, Inc.

Sentient Decision Science was commissioned by First Command to compile the Financial Behaviors Index®. SDS is a behavioral science and consumer psychology consulting firm with special vertical expertise within the financial services industry. SDS specializes in advanced research methods and statistical analysis of behavioral and attitudinal data.

About First Command

First Command Financial Services and its subsidiaries, including First Command Bank and First Command Financial Planning, assist American families in their efforts to build wealth, reduce debt and pursue their lifetime financial goals and dreams—focusing on consumer behavior as the first and most powerful determinant of results. Through knowledgeable advice and coaching of the financial behaviors conducive to success, First Command Financial Advisors have built trustworthy, lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families since 1958.


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