The Impact of Family on Military Success

By | March 31, 2022

[March 31, 2022]  The idea that our family can positively impact the military is a long-held view by senior military leaders.  Why that is so is something I will explore.  I’m often asked about my own views on the family and how family life affects the quality and success of military service members.

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” – GK Chesterton

No formal studies specifically address how our families influence military success.  Most scientific research into the topic of families is almost exclusively about how the military lifestyle affects the family, mostly negatively.

I have two messages for the public; those especially that have no or little experience with the military and our service to the military.  I write about Soldiers, but the comments apply to all military services.

First, those raised in stable, two-parent families make the hardest working, most dedicated, and resilient military members.  If you want something done, give it to the best Soldier in your unit.  Looking at that Soldier, you will find supportive parents who encouraged that Soldier to join and succeed in the military, regardless of rank or time in the service.

Second, those service members who are married with kids consistently make the best Soldiers.  They are reliable, mentally centered, motivated, and happy.  These Soldiers are those who will come to your aid if you are in trouble.  They don’t hesitate to protect the weak from bullies who may need help.  You want these Soldiers in your foxhole.

The impact of family on military success is evident to those who spent any length of time in our military services.  Overall, there is a positive benefit to those service members, whether giving them support early in their life or for current military members.

When it comes to making a great Soldier, the family is the best predictor.  Oh, I almost forgot the most prominent trait, COURAGE!  Yes, moral and physical courage is found in those who are from and have the most stable families.

If I had to predict the success of any Soldier, the first thing I would ask about is their family life.  A bit of this information goes a long way to predicting their long-term success.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “The Impact of Family on Military Success

  1. Dog Man

    Basic developmental psychology tells us that boys and girls growing up without fathers and stable homes are overwhelmingly more likely to lack self-discipline and personal responsibility than children growing up with married parents. The economic, emotional, and spiritual guidance that two parent families provide are the cornerstones of effective family institutions. Without that stability, institutional collapse is eminent.

  2. Pooch T.

    Karl Marx hated the family unit because it was what opposed his communist utopia. Only the “state” (the communist state) mattered. And he was to be at the top, like Stalin, pulling the strings and living in luxury while everyone else lived equally ….. equally impoverished.

    1. Boy Sue

      The family is the solution, government is the problem. Message to government, stay out of the family’s business and stop trying to indoctrinate our children with your marxist ideology.

      1. Anya B.

        Great comment. Gen. Satterfield has laid out some basic understanding of how we can do better. We must stop ignoring bad behavior and choices in our community. Discriminating between proper and bad behavior as a legitimate judgment, it is not discrimination or bigotry. Basic psychology tells us when you are allowed to get away with and are rewarded for bad behavior; you reinforce and get more progressively worse behavior that harms children.

      2. Eddie Ray Anderson, Jr.

        Spot on comment Boy Sue. We need more people to understand this sentiment and not favor government as the solution.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      ,,,, and why we are big fans about learning how to be leaders and better men and women.

      1. Armywife

        All the more reason to get his book Our Longest Year in Iraq. You can purchase it from Amazon. It’s a great read.

  3. Army Captain

    Gen. Satterfield, your second reason, “Second, those service members who are married with kids consistently make the best Soldiers'” I think is the most important. If you have a strong family with kids, you make the best leader. Period. Seen this happen too often for it to be a fluke.

  4. Newbie in Seattle

    Gen. Satterfield nailed it.
    “When it comes to making a great Soldier, the family is the best predictor. Oh, I almost forgot the most prominent trait, COURAGE! “

    1. Winston

      Newbie, got that right. Courage …. and Gen. S. also nailed it. Without our family backing us up, we cannot be brave. That is why the team matters so much. We are social beings that love our families and no amount of propaganda from Marxists will change that fact.

  5. Jonnie the Bart

    Another excellent article from the great Gen. Satterfield, leader supreme. Ha Ha, just had to start off with a little humor. I for one am a big fan of this website and supporter of anyone like Gen. Satterfield who puts out a great effort to show us what works for leaders and what doesn’t work. Thanks!!!!!

  6. Willie Strumburger

    “In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.” –Friedrich Nietzsche

      1. JT Patterson

        “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” –Michael J. Fox…. another good one!

  7. E.T.

    Another excellent article and in this case telling us the importance of family life on Soldiers (or military personnel). I will add that this is true REGARDLESS of occupation or life’s position. The family is a team that supports you. Work for the team and you will succeed beyond your wildest imagination.

    1. Emily Basket II

      Got that right ET. Too many folks think that the basic support of a person is their racial, ethnic, or gender group. Wrong! It’s the family. ✔ You cannot change thousands of years of success with the family. Gen. Satterfield nailed this one.

      1. Ernest

        This is what radicals are pushing today and we see too many corporate CEOs like in Facebook and YouTube supporting this effort. And, it is doomed to fail. In the meantime, people will be destroyed as they buy into this pernicious ideology.

  8. Jerome

    african american families are being destroyed. i cannot say it enough and often enough.

  9. Tom Bushmaster

    Racism is the normal explanation for the decline of the black family, but that analysis does not hold up.

    1. Doug Smith

      Yeah, and that is the point that Max (see below comment) is making. Others like Thomas Sowell say the same. Families are important. There is no other judgement to be made. Else you are dumb as a rock not to see what is in your face. US political party Democrats do their best to destroy the black family. They succeeded.

  10. Shawn C. Stolarz

    I find this as no surprise. Humans are bred to be raised in families. Any structure that eliminates or downplays families is a non-starter. That is why Marxism continues to fail repeatedly thru-out history.

    1. Max Foster

      That is also why the BLM movement, an admitted Marxist org. has failed blacks in America. Also I must add why politicains have also failed blacks because politicians continue to downplay the importance of family and discourage family formation in black families. Abortion is just one. Money for you if the father is not around is another.

      1. McStompie

        BLM is a communist organization funded by China and Russia. What else can i say to support this thinking that BLM is against the family.

    2. old warrior

      That is Gen. Satterfield’s point and well taken. Let’s continue to hammer home this point with the college snowflakes who see reality as anything their puny mind conjures up.


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