Women bear more than their share of military sacrifice

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The women's movement has struggled for equality for years, but when it comes to one aspect of serving in the military, women have, unfortunately, achieved more than their share.

A RAND Corp. study found predictable results when it tracked the marital status of more than 460,000 U.S. service members between 1999 and 2008. With each passing month that a spouse was away at war, the chance of divorce increased.

Especially vulnerable were couples who married before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, who didn't expect long deployments to be part of the equation.

We don't know if RAND studied National Guard and Reservists in particular, but the change probably had especially strong impact on those couples.

The overall divorce rate in the military increased gradually from 2.6 percent of marriages in 2001 to 3.7 percent in 2011, according to Pentagon data. The longer the deployment, 12 months vs. 18 months, for example, the greater the risk of divorce.

Are husbands more likely to stray when wives are away at war?

The data seems to indicate that, if one assumes it's a major factor in divorce. Women in the service have a higher rate of divorce then men under normal circumstances, but when a combat deployment is involved, things get worse.

According to the RAND study, a woman in the service faces a 50 percent chance of seeing her marriage fail during the first five years.

What's the answer? For one friends and family of military families should do everything they can to support couples facing deployment.

For another, we should do everything we can to make sure those deployments are kept to the bare minimum.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: