More than half of military families have been apart for once-in-a-lifetime moments like the birth of a child

2 October 2018


The latest survey from SSAFA has revealed that more than half of military personnel have missed once-in-a-lifetime family moments like the birth of a child. The results show there is another - more hidden and more personal - aspect to the sacrifices that the Armed Forces community makes for our nation. 

The Censuswide survey, which interviewed 1,348 members of the British public and 658 people in the Armed Forces community, found that more than a third of military families surveyed (34%) said that they have been separated for ten months or longer as a result of having to travel to remote areas of the UK for training, deployment abroad or being on a tour of duty within conflict zones.

The findings of the survey also show that as much as 81% of the civilian population is unaware that military deployment can last for such a long time, highlighting that these additional personal sacrifices made by our Armed Forces are not always understood by the wider public.

Of the military families surveyed, respondents revealed:

  • Nearly three quarters (72%) have not been able to be together for significant family events like birthdays, weddings, funerals and anniversaries
  • More than half (56%) have missed major moments in their children's lives, such as first words, first steps, first day at school, or even the birth of a child
  • Nearly half (48%) said they feel pressure for their limited time together to be perfect, putting extra strain on what should be enjoyable family time
  • More than a third (37%) have been forced to delay important personal events such as getting married, buying a house, and starting a family, due to a long deployment.

Justine Baynes, Director at SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, says:

It’s easy to forget that serving in our Armed Forces means more than defending the nation; there is also a human price that every member of the military pays. Being away from home and your loved ones for any period can be difficult - imagine doing it for months at a time, and with limited communication.

"While it is accepted that this is a part of the job, it’s important that we remember that missing birthdays, school plays and other special moments can take a toll.

"SSAFA understands the many challenges faced by military families. That’s why we have been supporting the Armed Forces family for over 130 years."

SSAFA provides lifelong support and offers practical, emotional or financial assistance to the whole Armed Forces community, understanding the complex nature of military service and the effect it can have on the wider family. From help with school runs and hospital appointments to an understanding shoulder to lean on, SSAFA is there for military families.

To help SSAFA to support our military personnel, veterans and their families, please visit

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