Combat operations overseas since 2001 have asked everything of Texas servicemen and servicewomen. Many have given their lives. Still more have given physically, psychologically and even financially. Yet more and more, we are learning about another type of sacrifice that has become increasingly common among military families: the end of their marriages.
Studies have confirmed this reality from many angles. The total amount of time a service member spends on deployment, according to a study from last year, is directly linked to the odds of his or her marriage ending in divorce. 2011 was a record year for divorce rates in the Air Force, when they reached an overall peak of almost 4 percent.
Air Force personnel interviewed in a recent report acknowledged that many of them felt isolated and alone in their marital struggles; as though, as long as they could work their jobs and were not suicidal, everything was just fine. Now, however, more are trying to reach out to each other for support and information in unique ways.
One Air Force husband has established a website featuring stories from divorced military peers as well as expert counselors, financial advisors and other professionals. The Air Force itself is testing out a “marriage checkup” program designed to bring doctors into the loop regarding their patients’ marital health. Chaplains, the military’s traditional counselors, also have increased resources at their disposal to help service members with marital challenges or in the aftermath of a divorce.
Military personnel should, of course, avail themselves of any and all support they feel they need, but there is one particular aspect of a military divorce that may be worth some dedicated professional guidance: the legal aspect. There are specific laws, for example, governing the division of military benefits in a divorce. And the laws right here in Texas have recently changed to allow a service member’s family to have visitation his or her child during periods of active deployment. In order to ensure their rights and interests are being protected, military personnel may wish to consult with a legal professional in addition to the other support options available.