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War Brings Divorce Risk for Special Forces Soldiers

Anyone with connections to the military knows that deployments can be hard on families. This stress can be even more acute for the families of the more than 66,000 members of the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Unfortunately, the added stress of having a spouse in the Special Forces can put strain on a marriage that, in far too many cases, leads to divorce. Members of the Special Forces face a number of unique challenges that are not present in civilian marriages, or even in marriages where a spouse is a member of a non-special forces unit.

For example, Special Forces training emphasizes a "numbing down" technique where troops in combat learn to shut down human emotions. While this technique is essential for success and survival in a hot combat zone, it can be hard to transition back to the emotional intimacy required in a successful marriage.

This emotional distance is not aided by the long deployments that are a regular part of life in the Special Forces. Special Operations troops play a crucial role in dealing with complex and high-risk military situations. As a result, Special Forces deployments aren't expected to end any time soon, even as other troops get sent home in the draw-down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Special Forces soldiers excel at responding to high-stress situations. Ironically though, the thing that makes them so good at their jobs is also the thing that can threaten their marriages. Many spouses of Special Forces troops report that their partners want to "manage" things when they return home, instead of being a partner in a relationship.

Since 2001, the overall military divorce rate has risen by 25 percent. Military leaders are hoping to reverse this trend as more service members return home. To that end, they are sponsoring a number of programs designed to help soldiers readjust to life off the battlefield.

Hopefully, these programs will work. However, because of the unique issues involved with military pay and benefits, soldiers who do decide to end their marriages would be wise to seek an attorney who is well-versed in handling military divorces.

Source: USA Today, "Married Special-Operations Troops Feel Strains of War," Gregg Zoroya, April 24, 2012.

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