Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
It was unclear what the actual role of the Family Readiness Group (FRG) was in helping the spouses of U.S. Navy submariners (SMSs) in learning to live the submariner-family lifestyle. Submarines deploy in regular cycles regardless of world conflict. Submariners and their spouses are isolated from each other during deployments, communities of submariner spouses are smaller than other Navy communities, and spouses must acquire unique social capital to manage unique challenges. The purpose of this study was to explore how SMSs experience or perceive the FRG role in their social construction and adaptation to the SMS lifestyle. The examination was guided by Ingram, Schneider, and DeLeon's social construction and policy design theory. Data were collected using an open-ended survey distributed to 83 SMSs through an online survey platform. Data were coded for themes and subthemes using an iterative process including values and process coding. Key results were that SMSs construct themselves differently than how they are constructed by policy principals. Among SMSs, benefits and burdens perceived to be distributed by the FRG program are different than the distribution of actual benefits and burdens. These differences influenced participants' engagement with the FRG program. More research is needed to define this influence and to explore the origins of relationships that increase lifestyle capital. The implication for social change is that a better understanding of the nature of SMS lifestyles can contribute to better policy decisions and improved program design, leading to better outcomes for military spouses.