Last year, more than 30,000 military couples ended their marriages, marking the highest military divorce rate since 1999. The reasons for this increase are not difficult to discern: The United States' involvement in multiple overseas conflicts means that more service members are being deployed more often for longer lengths of time.
Not only does being apart for that much time put stress on a marriage, but military officials have found that returning home can also cause marital problems. When deployments end, military men and women come home to a family that has adjusted to life without them. They are unable to reestablish their place in the family, and struggle to reconnect with their spouse and children - while also dealing with the stresses of war.
It is exactly that struggle that is being targeted by the U.S. Navy in its new family-focused programming. According to Mary Kirby of the Navy's Fleet and Family Services, one of the biggest lessons service members must learn is that reintegration into their family does not happen overnight. "Homecoming is not a day or that first hour, or the first kiss or first hug," she says. "It's a process that can take 60, 90 days sometimes to find your rhythm and that's normal."
Marriage workshops and counseling focusing on communication and other common marital issues are just one facet of the Navy's larger effort to address the psychological health of service members. Officials say that the largest challenge thus far is getting service members to attend workshops and counseling sessions, but hope that others' positive results will motivate greater attendance in the coming weeks and months.
Source: NBC-7, "Navy pushes resources amid rising military divorce rate," Mark Mullen, Sept. 11, 2012
At our Georgia law firm, we help military couples who have decided to end their marriages. To learn more, please see our divorce page.