FOCAL POINT: Divided We Fall
Troop deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq led to a dramatic increase in divorce among Army couples between 2001 and 2004, including many stationed at Ft. Bragg. WRAL’s new Focal Point documentary “Divided We Fall” examines the causes of divorce in the military and looks at how the high divorce rate has changed the way the Army deals with issues of marriage and family life. “Divided We Fall” is hosted by WRAL news anchor Gerald Owens and airs Wednesday, December 13 at 7pm.
The divorce rate for Army officers more than tripled from 2001 through 2004. From 2003 to 2004 it jumped 78%, while the rate for enlisted personnel jumped 28%. Military analysts blame the long and repeated deployments caused by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Spouses deployed overseas worry about the fate of their families and their marriages back home. Spouses left behind have to learn to live alone and take care of the household, which can often mean caring for children, handling finances and other responsibilities. The stress and the loneliness can often cause conflict in a relationship. Infidelity can become a temptation. When military men and women return home from war the readjustment to life at home with their spouse can also be difficult.
In recent years, the Army has started to recognize the stress repeated deployments puts on its married soldiers and how that can affect their ability to carry out their mission. The Army has developed a variety of programs to help keep married couples together and keep their relationships strong, even through the stress of long and repeated deployments to war. But some fear that as the war drags on and taxes the military’s resources, funding for those programs will dry up. Others say the programs are not enough and the answer is shorter deployments and more return trips for soldiers to see their loved ones at home.
About Focal Point
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Clay Johnson for this capcom story.