02 December 2008

Record number of Divorces and Suicides in the Army and Marines

From USAToday.com

Enlisted soldiers and Marines divorced their spouses at a higher rate in fiscal 2008 than at any other time in at least 16 years, according to Pentagon data released Tuesday.

About 4% of married enlisted troops in the Army and Marines, or 8,842 GIs and 2,842 Marines, obtained divorces during fiscal 2008, the numbers show. The data reflect a steady upward trend in divorce among the Army enlisted since 2003 and enlisted Marines since 2005.

From 2007 to 2008, there was a 5.4% increase in divorces for soldiers, and an 11% increase for Marines, records show.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has warned that stress among military families remains intense after years of multiple combat deployments and lengthy separations.

"I can't say I'm surprised. I can say I'm concerned," says Joyce Raezer, executive director of the National Family Military Association. Raezer says she worries the rise is a result of many young marriages in the Army that are hurt by long deployments.

Many soldiers saw their combat tours extended to 15 months in 2008, and many returned for only about a year at home before facing another deployment.

The strain has also been reflected in the record number of suicides in the Army, which military doctors blame largely on relationships damaged by lengthy deployments.

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