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Divorce rate among active-duty Army officers, enlisted has risen dramatically

By LISA BURGESS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 9, 2005

ARLINGTON, Va. — The divorce rate among active-duty soldiers rose dramatically last year, especially among Army officers.

In 2004, a total of 3,325 Army officers saw their marriages end in divorce, 6 percent of all marriages among officers, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center, the Pentagon’s statistics-gathering arm. That’s up 78 percent from 2003 statistics at 1,866 and nearly triple the rate in 2001, which saw 1,145 divorces.

Among enlisted soldiers, 7,152 filed for divorce in 2004 (3.5 percent of total marriages), according to the Manpower Center. Those figures are up 28 percent from 2003 (with 5,587) and up 52 percent from 2001 (with 4,513).

Divorce rates among the other services have increased only modestly or not at all in the same time period.

Marine officers’ divorce rate has hovered around 1.8 percent from 2001 to 2004, while enlisted Marines’ divorces held steady at 3.5 percent.

In the Air Force, officer divorce rates were 1.2 percent in 2001, and 1.5 percent in 2004, while enlisted airmen divorce rates went from 3 percent to 3.8 percent in the same time period.

In the Navy, the divorce rate for officers in 2001 was 1.5 percent, and 3.2 percent for enlisted sailors. In 2004, the divorce rate for officers was 2.5 percent for officers, and 3.9 percent for enlisted sailors.

The Army’s divorce increase “is not surprising,” said Kathleen Moakler, deputy director of government relations for the National Military Family Association, an Alexandria, Va., military family advocacy group.

Although the family association does not collect its own divorce statistics, “we’ve been hearing a lot of anecdotal [confirmation] for a long time,” Moakler told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.

Repeated deployments to places such as Iraq and Afghanistan “take a toll on family life,” Moakler said. “Military families are being asked to make enormous sacrifices, and unfortunately, not every family structure is up to the challenges.”

Asked whether the increases in divorce can be directly traced to the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Maj. Elizabeth Robbins, an Army spokeswoman, said, “that would require a study, and to ask us to speculate would not be appropriate.”

However, Robbins told Stripes, “other organizations that require high levels of responsibility coupled with possible traumatic events and danger also have high levels of divorce.”

Robbins cited civilian police officers as an example.

Robbins also said that the Army has “a broad range of services available” to help families cope with the stress of deployments, including a new marriage counseling program that is run by the Army Chaplain Corps.


The statistics ...

Percentage of active U.S. Army marriages ending in divorce

Total marriages Total divorces Percentage

2001

Enlisted 199,703 4,513 2.3
Officers 55,650 1,145 2.1

2002

Enlisted 193,638 5,989 3.1
Officers 54,542 1,060 1.9

2003

Enlisted 198,230 5,587 2.8
Officers 56,078 1,866 3.3

2004

Enlisted 202,134 7,152 3.5
Officers 55,550 3,325 6.0

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