Stresses of deployment, injuries drive military divorce rate up
The stress on military families from overseas deployments is immense. When a service member is deployed, the separation can be lonely and difficult for both the service member and his or her spouse. Sometimes both spouses are in the military, but that does not necessarily make it any easier to be apart for extended periods of time.
As challenging as being apart can be, however, coming home often involves hard realities as well. This is especially the case when a spouse is severely injured. The pressure of coping with wartime injuries is often a cause of military divorce in Virginia and other states, which brings up other issues as the divorce progresses (like splitting military retirement).
The sheer number of soldiers who have returned from Iraq or Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other related problems is undeniable. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says there are at least 1 million soldiers who are already dealing with or at risk for PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), depression, and anxiety attacks.
Obviously, it can be very challenging to be married to someone who is facing such problems. It isn't only spouses who are affected, either. Among active-duty military personnel, about 43 percent have children.
It isn't that spouses don't want to help. But problems like PTSD are so big that, even with the best of intentions, it takes a toll on a couple's relationship. The marriage may already have been stained during the long separation of deployment. But when a spouse returns home injured, the scope of the challenges lead many couples to divorce.
Statistics from the Department of Defense reflect this reality. The military divorce rate is at its highest since 1999. It is now higher than the civilian rate, which has been declining.
Source: "The toll on the home front," The News Star, 1-26-13
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