Divorce Rates Rising Among Veterans

Kellam T. Parks
Managing Member of Parks Zeigler, PLLC

The recent wars are having a negative impact on military marriages, as the rate of divorce is the highest it has been since 1999.  The dissolution rate across the various branches was 3.7%, which was up from 3.6% in 2010 and holding fast to the steady increase from 3.1% in 2005.* Interestingly enough the rate among female service members is 7.9% while only 3% for service men (see article).

Post-traumatic stress disorder ("PTSD"), high unemployment rates and the transition from military to civilian life all contribute to the added issues someone faces when married with and without children. And while some couples divorce due to infidelity, it's not the only reason and may not be as common as people assume. The initial reuniting after a long deployment is very emotional, but that re-connecting after months apart can bring out anxiety. It can take 60 to 90 days sometimes to find the rhythm of having that other person back in the family’s everyday life. Routines of one parent taking on all duties now being divided among two can be unsettling to children and adults alike. 

A failing marriage affects not just the service member’s job performance, it can affects unit morale.  The military has taken heed over the years and there are various support groups and counseling services for both the enlisted spouse and the non-military spouse now being offered and sponsored through the service corps. The military wants to address the psychology health of service members and the quality of their relationships. A stable home life allows a person to focus on their duties.

The United States Department of Veteran Affairs offers the Veterans Crisis Line and Vet Centers as sources of support. Notably the Soldiers Project and Real Warriors also offer free confidential counseling for service members and their families.

Marriage takes work and for those who are physically absent from the home for long periods of time, it takes more and often harder work. I encourage any service member struggling in their relationships to seek out assistance from any one of the numerous services available to them.

*Statistics taken from April, 2012 article in the Journal of Family Issues by Benjamin R. Karney, David S. Loughran, and Michael S. Pollard

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