Stacy Bannerman, AlterNet
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More than 13,000 military marriages ended last year, and mine came dangerously close to becoming one of them, but it wasn’t because of some gays getting hitched. Military marriages are at increasingly high risk of failure, and combat is the cause.
Most of the boots on the ground in Iraq are worn by Marines, active duty Army, or Army National Guard. They have served the most and longest deployments, seen the most combat, and suffered the most injuries, both physical and psychological. In 2008, the active-duty Army and Marines also had a higher percentage of failed marriages than the Navy or Air Force, whose rates held steady or decreased slightly.
Divorce rates for women in the Army or Marines were nearly three times that of their male counterparts, which speaks volumes about the effect of war on women, as well as the gender roles, societal expectations, and resiliency of their husbands. The fact that the Veterans Administration has just a handful of gender-specific treatment programs for women, and there’s been scant attention, research, and support for women veterans speaks for itself.
A study published in Armed Forces & Society revealed that male combat veterans were 62 percent more likely than civilian males to have at least one failed marriage. In 2006, Kansas State University professor Walter Schumm surveyed 337 soldiers at Fort Riley who had recently returned from Iraq. 6.1 percent said they would probably divorce, and 12.2 percent indicated that they would be divorcing. By comparison, two to four percent of civilian marriages end in divorce each year.
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