According to a new Defense Department report, the Air Force has the highest divorce rate in the U.S. military, at a rate of about 3.9 per 100 marriages. The branch’s divorce rate has experienced a relatively steady rise since 2001, when it sat at 2.5 per 100 marriages. In that time, the rate has grown by about 64 percent. Today, overall military divorce is at its highest rate since 1999.
The report also breaks down divorce information by career field, finding that women experienced more divorces than their male counterparts. Of the 20 highest divorce rates by sex and career field in 2010, women occupied 18 spots. The two male entries, enlisted men in the medical field and male aides-de-camp, ranked at 18th and 19th, respectively.
The director of the Center for Research on Military Organization at the University of Maryland suggested that the tendency for divorce to affect enlisted women more often than men was due to increased societal pressures for active duty women. He explained that while the military assigns military roles to men and women equally and expects them to accomplish the same tasks, enlisted women still feel social pressure to serve as traditional wives and mothers.
An Air Force chaplain explained that divorce is an especially prominent problem for dual-military couples, in which both spouses are actively serving in the Air Force or in separate branches. Despite the best efforts of such couples to keep their marriage intact, they are forced to schedule around differing timetables and locations, making it difficult for them to see each other.
But it’s important to remember that no one knows everything that happens in a marriage except the spouses. Couples have their own reasons for divorcing, and they should not feel bad for making that decision.
Source: Air Force Times, “Air Force divorce rate highest in military,” David Larter and Michelle Tan, Dec. 31, 2011