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Casualties of war: risk of divorce tied to length of deployment

Many of us in Maumelle know people who have served their country in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we are grateful for their service. While we may think that after they return home that their lives pick up right where they left off, there are increasing reports that serving in the military, even in noncombat roles, vastly changes a person's life. From post-traumatic stress disorder to time away from careers to changes in home life, being deployed can seriously disrupt a person's life. So, news about a recent study by the RAND corporation that longer deployments have increased the likelihood of divorce should come as no surprise to veterans and their families.

For families in Arkansas going through military divorce, it is important to remember that there are aspects to divorce that are different for military personnel than for civilians. Just one example is that military retirement benefits cannot be divided until the service member has reached retirment age, making property division much more complex.

In this study, researchers looked at a group of nearly 500,000 service members serving in the military between March 1999 and June 2008. All of these service members reported getting married while actively involved in service, and researchers tracked how many people divorced, separating them into people who married prior to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and those who married after the attacks.

Those who married after were much less likely to divorce following a deployment, which may be because spouses were aware they couuld be sent to a war zone. Those that married before 9/11, however, faced a 28 percent higher chance of divorce within three years if at least one spouse was deployed.

Ultimately, however, the study found that the longer the deployment was, the more likely the couple was to divorce.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Military Divorce Risk Increases With Lengthy Deployments," Sept. 3, 2013

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