WASHINGTON — The long-running wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have had an impact not only on American life and the country’s international credibility, but also on marriages. Recent Pentagon statistics reveal that the divorce rates among U.S. Army and Marine Corps members rose during the last fiscal year, which ended on September 30.
According to the Defense Department, 3.7% of married Marines got divorces this year, an increase from 3.3% the previous fiscal year. The same rate rose from 3.3% to 3.5% for married Army troops.
“Few people were surprised by this news,” Kelly Hruska, deputy director of government relations for the National Military Family Association, told the Beaufort Gazette. “The operational tempo is extremely high,” she added, referring to the long and repeated troop deployments to the Middle East that may have affected soldiers’ marriages.
The NMFA is a non-profit organization that operates out of Fairfax, Virginia.
The paper also quoted Hruska regarding the Army’s and Marines’ efforts to assist married servicemen in readjusting to family life after combat: “The services are trying to respond and trying to be proactive, but they’ve got to overcome that mindset and that stereotype that sees going to counseling and asking for help as a weakness.”
She pointed out that none of the military’s relationship-skills programs and workshops — which educate Marines and soldiers on conflict management and communication skills — are compulsory, so it’s up to returning servicemen to seek help themselves. “The military facilitates all of these programs,” Hruska told the Gazette. “There’s no shortage of opportunities here, but this isn’t a lawful order. You can’t force anyone to participate in these programs.”
The United States has more than 84,000 married people in the Marine Corps and about 287,000 married Army troops.
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