Military Personnel ::

Limited Data Available on Personal Bankruptcies among Active Duty Military Personnel

DOD had limited data on the rate of personal bankruptcies among active duty military personnel. DOD officials indicated that their most recent data on bankruptcies among active duty military personnel (which included reservists on active duty assignments for at least 6 months) were gathered from September through December 1999 as part of a DOD- wide survey.[Footnote 5] For the survey population, 1.2 percent of the active duty military members said that they (and spouse, if applicable) "went bankrupt (declared personal bankruptcy)" in the 12 months prior to completing the survey. The 1.2 percent rate of personal bankruptcy projected to the 1.3 million military personnel included in the survey population translates into approximately 16,000 personnel on active duty declaring personal bankruptcy during the 12 months preceding the survey. The survey included neither follow-up items to determine the events that precipitated the bankruptcy nor did it include a breakout of the percentage of reservists serving on active duty assignments for at least 6 months compared with full-time active duty personnel declaring bankruptcy.

In 1999, the total number of personal bankruptcies filed in the United States was 1.3 million.[Footnote 6] We did not calculate a per capita rate because we could not determine the number of individuals versus households filing for personal bankruptcy. Although trend data from 1999 through 2003 are not available for military personnel, the total number of personal bankruptcy filings in the United States increased by 23.6 percent to 1.6 million from 1999 through 2003.

[5] Defense Manpower Data Center, Tabulations of Responses from the 1999 Survey of Active Duty Personnel: Volume 2: Programs and Services, Family, Economic Issues, and Background, DMDC Report No. 2000-006 (Arlington, Va.: September 2000).

[6] Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, Personal Bankruptcy Filings Continue to Rise in Fiscal Year 2003 (Washington, D.C.: Nov. 14, 2003).