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Divorce rates down among service members; study raises question

The Defense Department recently released statistics on the divorce rate among military service members. The trend is generally a positive one, although it's important for Dallas servicemen and servicewomen -- as well as their spouses -- to nevertheless be aware of the challenges military service can present to a family.

The highlight of the recent news is that the divorce rate hasn't been this low since 2005. Back in 2001, before Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, the rate was just over 2.5 percent. It reached a high of 3.7 percent in 2011. However, the 2014 rate was just over 3 percent, continuing a decline from the 2011 rate.

Certainly, efforts put forth by the U.S. military to support families during and after active deployment can be credited with some of the decline. But there's something else at play in the recent statistics, something thus far lacking for a good explanation.

That is the fact that the divorce rate among servicewomen has seen a much greater decline than that of servicemen. While the rate has held relatively steady among men since 2011, only declining by half a percent, the rate among women dropped by 1.5 percent (from 8 to 6.5 percent). A military divorce researcher indicated that there was no obvious way to account for this discrepancy.

We won't attempt to offer an explanation either, but we would note that the 6.5 percent divorce rate among servicewomen is still almost double the 2011 civilian rate of 3.6 percent. There are more programs available today to support military families, as well as an increased openness to discussing the hardships of military service. But for many in the military whose marriages are coming to an end, it is important to have an awareness of what a military divorce will entail. Our next post will review some of these issues in more detail.

Source: Military.com, "Military Divorce Rate Hits Lowest Level in 10 Years," Amy Bushatz, Feb. 25, 2015

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