Military Divorce Rate Highest Since 1999


Over the last decade, we've seen an increase of servicemen and women seeking divorce advice in Pasadena. The stresses of long periods away from their spouses coupled with the horrors of war are too much for many military marriages to handle. Sadly, the collapse of the military marriage is a nationwide issue. According to a new report from the Pentagon, the military divorce rate recently reached its highest level since 1999.

New numbers from the Pentagon show that nearly 30,000 military marriages ended in divorce in 2011 - and, as more troops are expected to return home before the end of the year, that number is predicted to get even higher. The 3.7 percent overall military divorce rate of 2011 topped the most recent U.S. civilian rate recorded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 3.5 percent.

"As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan draw down, we're going to put more families together who haven't been used to being together," says Chaplain Carleton Birch, a spokesman for the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains, in an interview with USA Today.

Both the Army, with its 3.7 percent divorce rate, and the Navy, with its 3.6 percent divorce rate, recorded the highest percentages for either service since 2004 - while at 3.9 percent, the Air Force is recording the highest divorce rate in more than 20 years. The Pentagon found that nearly 5 percent of all Air Force marriages ended in divorce this year. Women enlisted in the military accounted for a large chunk of recorded divorces. One in ten servicewomen in the armed forces was divorced in 2011.

Experts say the increase, while high, isn't surprising.

"What we would expect, what we predicted a while ago, is that there would be gradual ripple effects," said Benjamin Karney, an expert on military divorce and researcher with the RAND Corp."When we first started analyzing this in 2007, we were not seeing too much of an increase in military divorce. But we suggested that over time the effects on families would expand. And it seems like we're gradually seeing that sort of thing happen."