Life after combat duty for a service member can be traumatic. Not surprisingly, the divorce rate among military personnel is much higher than the rate in the civilian population. Those statistics were spotlighted recently after the General Petraeus scandal involving an alleged extra marital affair with his biographer, came out in the open.
Military divorce rates in the US have climbed steadily over the past few years, and last year, those rates reached their highest level since 1999. In the fiscal year 2011, the military estimates that more than 30,000 marriages ended in divorce. In 2011, the overall military divorce rate was 3.7%, higher than the civilian divorce rate of 3.5%. Female service members are much more likely to feel the effects of a combat tour, with one in 10 marriages involving female service members ending in 2011.
The fears that those divorce rates will spike further are higher now that many troops are returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those troops are returning home to families that are not used to having them around. Further, these troops are coming home with unimaginable trauma and anxiety as a result of the stresses of war. Families in many cases are simply not equipped emotionally or psychologically to deal with these wounded veterans. The result is marital issues that include extra marital relationships, adultery and other destructive behaviors that could drag the couple to divorce court.
As the General Petraeus affair shows, even the highest-ranking personnel in the military are not immune from such indiscretions that have the potential to destroy a marriage. However, there is no indication yet that the Petraeus’ are headed to divorce court.