Military families are often left to pay the price for their loved ones who have been deployed multiple times. Severe physical injuries, emotional and mental disorders can impact soldiers and their families long after they return home. For New Jersey families who have had to cope with the absence of a loved one doing dangerous work in Afghanistan and Iraq, the long-term consequences can be damaging.
Divorce and custody disputes often arise while a military member is on deployment. In addition to family legal issues, for those families that stay intact, it means caring for a wounded or disabled loved one or dealing with the emotional struggles of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
About 10 percent of the 2.4 million service members who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan were deployed three or more times. Soldiers on multiple-deployments are more exposed to injuries including combat-related head injury or PTSD. Another sign of trauma and mental stress, is the recent report showing that more seasoned veterans are committing suicide after multiple deployments.
In addition to the mental disorders suffered by military members, their wives were 20 percent more likely to have mental health problems than the wives of soldiers who stayed home. Also, the longer the soldiers were the greater the odds a spouse would be diagnosed with depression.
The number of military divorces is climbing and surpassing a “normal” civilian rate (around 50%). The Pentagon’s latest reports show that the annual military divorce rate is 3.7, the highest it has been since 1999 and greater than the civilian rate. For some, it is simply being apart so long that affects the relationship. Too many things can change and couples can simply grow apart. Many military family couples felt like they didn’t even know each other after multiple deployments.
Military divorce can be complicated, particularly when dealing with pensions, division of property and custody. It is important to work with an experienced, trusted advocate who can protect your rights.
Source: The Sacramento Bee, “Military families also pay price for repeated tours of duty,” Adam Ashton, May 14, 2012.