War In Iraq Takes A Toll On Marriages

Night StalkerNight Stalker Member Posts: 11,967
edited June 2005 in General Discussion
Houston Chronicle
June 30, 2005

War In Iraq Takes A Toll On Marriages

The Army is using counseling to combat a surge in divorce rates

By David Crary, Associated Press

NEW YORK - While U.S. casualties steadily mount in Iraq, another toll is rising rapidly on the home front: The Army's divorce rate has soared in the past three years, most notably for officers, as longer and more frequent war zone deployments place extra strain on couples.

"We've seen nothing like this before," said Col. Glen Bloomstrom, a chaplain who oversees family-support programs. "It indicates the amount of stress on couples, on families, as the Army conducts the global war on terrorism."

Between 2001 and 2004, divorces among active-duty Army officers and enlisted personnel nearly doubled, from 5,658 to 10,477, even though total troop strength remained stable. In 2002, the divorce rate among married officers was 1.9 percent - 1,060 divorces out of 54,542 marriages; by 2004, the rate had tripled to 6 percent.

There's no comparable system for tracking the national divorce rate, though according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 percent of all first marriages end in divorce within 10 years.

With divorce rates that have risen more sharply than other service branches, the Army has broadened its efforts to help - offering confidential counseling hot lines, support groups for spouses, couples' retreats, even advice to single soldiers on how to pick partners.

Bloomstrom says he wants all 2,400 of the Army's chaplains to be available for marriage-support work.

Staff Sgt. Allen Owens, a 15-year Army veteran, and his wife, Linda, praised a recent marriage retreat that they and 20 other couples from Fort Campbell, Ky., attended.

Owens was part of a 101st Airborne Division unit that advanced into Baghdad in the early phases of the Iraq war, and he expects at least one more stint in Iraq. That would again leave his wife alone with their four children. The weekend retreat, he said, offered a chance to "decompress and do an in-depth study of your relationship and your personalities."

"Even if there's nothing going wrong," Linda Owens said, "it's a great way to learn about your spouse."

While some of the Army's programs aim to prepare couples for their first deployment-related separation, others try to help couples with the often-difficult adjustments when a spouse returns from combat-zone duty.

"Our hope is to change the culture," Bloomstrom said. "Initially there's a stigma about any program to do with relationships. We need to teach that there's nothing wrong with preventive maintenance for marriage."



"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." -- John Stewart Mill


  • emeraldsgunsemeraldsguns Member Posts: 56 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    funny thing is that i was recalled from Innactive reserves (Navy) in Nov 04 (after being out for a year and a half)and there wasnt a single thing done for my wife and I to prevent such thing from happening. But I have two months to go here on the border of Iraq and Kuwait and we are doing just fine. CANT WAIT!!!!

  • n/an/a Member Posts: 168,427
    edited November -1
    If we go back and check statistics, Im sure we would find it isnt any more than during any of the other wars. just get more publicity now a days..Gotta blame everything on the IRAQ war....When the cats away the mouse will play..[;)] In fact I think Divorce is up all over the spectrum, not just with the army.. In fact people arent getting married just to avoid the divorce,, best to shack up...[}:)]

  • ElMuertoMonkeyElMuertoMonkey Member Posts: 12,898
    edited November -1
    "We've seen nothing like this before," said Col. Glen Bloomstrom.

    Wouldn't be because he has the memory of a catfish, would it?

    Long periods of time apart typically do not strengthen a marriage.
  • Queen of SwordsQueen of Swords Member Posts: 14,355
    edited November -1
    Wow. To think it took me ten years to do this, and all I really needed was for him to get sent to the Sandbox back in '91.
    I feel so cheated...fifteen years and thousands of casualties later....

    Everyone is somebody's "weirdo".
  • John N.John N. Member Posts: 421 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I think one of the toughest jobs in the world is that of military spouse.My hat is off to those who make it work.And I also think that it is no different now than it was in the past,with the possible exception of those who live beyond their means.When a two income household becomes a one income household,priorities must be concidered.

    "Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today." -- James Dean
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